FUJI: A OPERA Exhibition Looms in London

Yinka  Olatunbosun

For Fuji music lovers in the UK, a landmark exhibition looms in London. From August 18 to 28, this year, the Africa Centre in London will present FUJI: A Opera, a multi-dimensional exhibition that tells the story of the Fuji music genre, one of the most important in Nigeria’s cultural history.

FUJI: A Opera is a showcase of some exclusive archive footage and artefacts, exploring the belligerent past of Fuji music and its founding footprints while celebrating its rich subculture from the early 1960s to the present day.

The story woven through a visual assemblage of fascinating archival footage of previous performances, audio installations, and incredible memorabilia across the 60-year history of Fuji Music is a must-see. Going headfirst into the history of Fuji, it carefully transports the viewer through the origins in the Yoruba-Muslim communities of Nigeria’s South-West and the vision of pioneer Ayinde Barrister, who dubbed his sound “fuji” after seeing an airport ad for the famous Japanese mountain.

The exhibition begins with a soundscape homage to Ajiwere, folk music for Islamic worshippers during 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 artists, including music pioneers Late Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, otherwise known as Alhaji Agba, and King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall, who is largely credited with taking the genre to its highest heights from the early 1980s to the present day.

The infectious energy of Fuji music will be experienced through 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.

Founder of FUJI: A Opera, Bobo 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 be bringing 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.

The Africa Centre is a UK-registered charity that celebrates the diversity of Africa and its diaspora.

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