Anthony Joshua, the two-time unified world boxing heavyweight champion, visited the New Afrika Shrine in Lagos to pay homage, presenting his belts to the king of afrobeat, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti on 20 February.
In a charged atmosphere, during the Thursday rehearsal session (which in itself is a show), the champion entered the Afrika Shrine and the frenzy doubled. He went straight to the stage, prostrated in the Yoruba way to greet the singer whom he said: “inspired me to win my last fight against Andy Ruiz” tagged ‘Battle on the Dunes’ outside Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
The British/Nigerian pugilist is known for consistently connecting with his Nigerian roots. He spent parts of his childhood in Nigeria. AJ has been in the country in the last few days, applying for his National Identity card, visiting the Akarigbo of Remo in Ijebu where his family is from as well as visiting Makoko in Lagos.
Femi Kuti, who reciprocated by pouring encomiums and well wishes on Anthony Joshua, he said: “I feel honoured and vindicated that my words and music spurred the champion to win his big fight’ adding further “I could not sleep on the night of the fight and we are grateful, AJ showed the world the stuff we are made of; resilience.”
The champion rose to dance as his special requests ‘Fight to Win’ and ‘Water no Get Enemy’ were played by Femi Kuti and the Positive Force. It will be recalled that those were his entry songs to the last fight.
AJ has become a cultural ambassador for the youths of Nigeria, his humility and outreach to his country gives Nigerians the hope that greatness can be achieved, no matter what. This was a home-coming to remember and a sincere show of support for a new Nigeria, conjured by Fela and his flock.
Bolaji Alonge is an artist, photographer and actor from Lagos, Nigeria with more than a decade of experience in documenting history, looking for beauty where it is least expected. In May 2017, Bolaji organized his “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” photo exhibition at Freedom Park in Lagos.
His second solo exhibition “Urban Culture – Historical Continuity” was held at One Draw Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos in November 2018. In February 2019, Bolaji showcased his work at Baza Studio in New York. A third solo exhibition, “Black & White” was hosted at Quintessence, Lagos in July 2019.
In October 2019, he held the Afrobeat – The Legacy photo exhibition on Femi Kuti during Felabration.
Alonge is a regular at the Shrine, a grove of deep rhythms for those addicted to freedom. He has been documenting Femi for years and is a dedicated “shrine rat” himself. He is currently editor, West Africa, for Musicinafrica.net, Africa’s largest digital music platform.