Pan-African Aesthetic

Pan-Africanism in Afro-Beat

Authored by: Shawn O’Neal

Routledge Handbook of Pan-Africanism

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367030667
eBook ISBN: 9780429020193
Adobe ISBN:


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On Monday May 6 of 2013 I stood at the front of the stage at the Larimer Lounge in Denver Colorado to watch R&B duo THEEsatisfaction as well as the subsequent headliner, experimental hip hop duo Shabazz Palaces. Some of the music playing in between performances was none other than Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. I was in the process of completing the first year of my graduate degree in global history, preparing to submit a research paper on Fela Kuti entitled, Colonialism: The Lyrics of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Delineation of Cultural Identity, Modernization, and the Colonial Description. As I was watching THEE Satisfaction who are Africana women, and Shabazz Palaces who are Africana men, and contemplating the research I was about to submit, I realized that there was a glaring void in my analysis. The amalgamation of hearing Fela Kuti’s Afro-Beat, among the music of Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons, with the ensuing sounds of Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire, provided an extensive essence of Pan African aesthetics and Kuti’s Afro-Beat. I realized although Afro-Beat music is the creation of Fela Kuti, hitherto I failed to consider that women as well as men are instrumental to the foundations of Afro-Beat as well as Pan African aesthetics.

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