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‘FUJI: A Opera’ multi-dimensional exhibition set for London debut

By Yinka Akanbi 

THE Africa Centre in London will play host to FUJI: A Opera, a multi-dimensional exhibition between August 18 and 28, 2023.

The exhibition tells the story of the fuji music genre – one of the most important in Nigeria’s history and without whom the Afrobeats stars who top the charts today (such as Burna Boy and Wizkid) would not be selling out stadiums worldwide.

In collaboration with FUMAN, FUJI: A Opera will include never seen archive footage and artefacts, explore the belligerent past of Fuji music, highlight its founding footprints, and celebrate its rich subculture from the early 1960s to the present.

Founder of FUJI: A Opera, Bobo Omotayo, said the story will be told through fascinating archival footage of previous performances, audio installations and incredible memorabilia across the 60-year history of fuji music.

He said, “Going headfirst into the history of fuji, it looks at the origins in the Yoruba-Muslim communities of Nigeria’s South-West and the vision of pioneer Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, who dubbed his sound “fuji” after seeing an airport ad for the famous Japanese mountain”.

On the choice of the venue, Omotayo said Africa Centre had been the home of African heritage and culture since it opened its doors in 1964.

The exhibition begins with a soundscape homage to Ajiwere, folk music for Islamic worshippers at Ramadan and the roots of fuji music on Lagos Island.

On show will be rare instruments from Nigeria that have been played since the beginning of fuji music over 50 years ago.

These have been donated by some iconic fuji artistes, including musical pioneer Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, who is largely credited with taking the genre to its highest heights from the mid 1980s to the present day.

The sheer energy of Fuji music will be brought to life with a listening gallery of archive recordings, a photography wall of album covers and live performances, and a collection of fashion pieces worn by fuji artists across its history.

Omotayo said: “Now feels like the perfect time to celebrate the phenomenal influence of fuji music, how it began and its lasting impact. Without fuji, there would be no Afrobeats. Artists such as King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall have given so much to music – it’s time we celebrate their legacy. With London’s huge Nigerian community and close links with Lagos, I’m proud to bring FUJI: A Opera to the Africa Centre this summer.”

The exhibition was first staged in 2020 in Nigeria, marking the longest showcase of the fuji subculture in modern times. FUJI: A Opera will make its international premiere in the UK at the Africa Centre, which has been the home of African heritage and culture since it first opened its doors in 1964.

https://www.theculturenewspaper.com/fuji-a-opera-multi-dimensional-exhibition-set-for-london-debut/

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