Screening at the Arcola Theatre: Suffering and Smiling

Talk Sunday 30th September, 2007

Focusing on the legendary African singer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti and his son Femi, Suffering and Smiling depicts the father-and-son struggle to raise awareness about Nigeria.
In it they ask poignantly why the world’s most resource-rich continent has the poorest people.

Only two months ago, conflict flared in the Niger Delta with militant groups declaring total war on foreign oil companies.

Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil exporter and the fifth-largest source of US oil imports, but despite its mineral wealth, most Nigerians live in abject poverty. Following Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Fela began to use his songs to speak out against the country’s corrupt leaders.

He bemoaned the fact that the military and political elite enriched themselves by allowing Nigeria’s oil and natural resources to be stripped by multinational corporations with little benefit to ordinary Nigerians.

Fela gave voice to Nigeria’s disenfranchised underclass and sang of a free and united Africa. Since his death in 1997, Femi has continued in his father’s footsteps.

Directed by Dan Ollman
Length: 65 mins