The Helwani and Kuti family are currently in talks to release a movie that was shot in Ghana by legendary music producer Faisal Helwani about Nigeria’s musical icon, Fela Kuti, some 37 years ago.
The movie, titled ‘The Black President’, is based on Fela as a person, his life, the movement he started and his ideals.
Singer and daughter of Faisal Helwani, Yasmeen Helwani, told NEWS-ONE that the movie’s production was put on hold after the soundtracks and some other audio tapes for the movie got burnt at Fela’s Shrine in 1977.
“My father brought Fela to Ghana to do a few shows back then. They did shoot the movie called ‘The Black President’ and my father produced the entire soundtrack. There was a time frame where Fela was facing political heat that resulted in an incident when the shrine got burnt. The soundtrack, along with several tapes, got burnt in the fire and that put a halt on the release of the movie because they had produced the whole soundtrack of the movie, the voices and everything was gone and basically we were left with only the video,” she stated.
After the burning down of the shrine, the rest of the movie was properly stored in the UK as Fela and Faisal Helwani kept deliberating on the production till the ‘Zombie’ hit-maker died in 1997.
“The video was with one of the Italian colleagues who worked with them on the project. He had it properly stored in the UK until they could revisit it. But of course Fela passed. Then this Italian gentleman also passed and the video landed in the hands of a production house,” she said.
But according to the ‘Paddy’ singer, both families were working tirelessly to put together and release—if not immediately—the complete movie.
Yasmeen disclosed that during the Felabration music and arts festival in Nigeria, she met with Yeni Kuti—daughter of Fela Kuti—about the movie and she expressed interest in revisiting it.
“It will be very difficult for it to come out as the originally intended movie. But when it is done, it will look more like a documentary and not necessarily the movie that they intended at first. Currently we have some of the rights and the Fela family also has some of the rights; so during the Felabration, I had a meeting with Yeni to discuss the way forward because it is a very valuable footage that we want to put out there,” she said.