Fatai Rolling Dollar: The Essence of a Legend, By Jahman Anikulapo

The iREP Documentary Film Forum, iREP, the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA and the Freedom Park collective regret the passing of the octogenarian Kokoma Highlife musician, Fatai Olagunju aka Rolling Dollar.

Fatai was one of the last mainstream practitioners of the music still very active, well to his death; giving the impression of immortality.

Highlife music is a unifying genre, a result of the introduction of the guitar and other wind instruments into traditional Nigerian music. It grew rapidly along the coastal towns of West Africa at the height of the demand for independence across the continent, benefiting from the mood and aspiration for liberty.

Fatai was one of the few Kokoma musicians, whose main instrument was the agidigbo (the thumb piano) coupled with the palmwine-type guitar  playing style, that embraced the new fusion of traditional beat and western form; and thus influenced and shaped the direction of Highlife music as it is known today.

Rolling Dollar’s symbolic death, on the 20th anniversary of June 12, 1993, is instructive of the unique contribution that the artist brings to the discourse on National well being.

A  tragic loss to the Nigerian world of music and the collective of the Creative Industry of the continent, Fatai’s passing is a forceful reminder of the need for our countries to re-evaluate the essence of the Culture Producer and give the species its proper due.

FRD’s legendary artistic life affects not only individuals but also institutions to which he lent his services as a performing musician and as well his humane, generous spirit.

Fatai Rolling Dollar should be mourned as an expression of our humanity — for his life and career affected our individual beings in divergent ways. But FRD deserves more to be CELEBRATED by the collective of the Creative Industry for the effect of his Artistry on our collective essence as Artistes and Creatives.

The iREP Documentary Film Forum, iREP, the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA and the Freedom Park — three institutions to which Fatai was affliated in the last years of his life — have resolved to celebrate the essence of the legendary FRD  through a night of reflection on his life and career.

This would involve reflections on his life; reviews of his career; screening of perhaps the only documentary film on his life titled ROLLING DOLLAR: A LEGEND UNPLUGGED, produced and directed by Femi Odugbemi and released in March; and a session of musical tributes by his fellow veteran highlife musicians, and many young ones whose careers he affected, and to some extent helped to shape by his own exemplary service to the music industry.

We ask therefore that  all join us on Wednesday June 19; at 5pm at the Freedom Park, 1 Hospital Road by Broad Street. Lagos for the event: ‘FATAI ROLLING DOLLAR: Celebrating the Essence of the Legend’

All comes should also come with your One-Minute tribute —  in Poem, Song; Chant; Reflection or other forms of tribute.

Jahman Anikulapo, culture activist and former editor at The Guardian speaks here for The iREP Documentary Film Forum, iREP, the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA and the Freedom Park collective


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