“But before that happened while I’d been in Nigeria, Acheampong had gotten in touch with the Nigerian government. So when I came back to Ghana I was deported shortly after. Anyway, end January, I was with my group travelling by road back to Nigeria. I’d be looking at the beautiful country and thinking how beautiful Africa is. My girls were tired. Most of them slept through that trip. Now and then I’d look at them sleeping. And I’d think: “These girls have suffered plenty-plenty for me-o! For years. Some for eight years! Fearless women, these my girls. Good women, man!” And I said to myself: “Fela, these na good women-o! Shiiiiit!” On 20 February ‘78 I married all twenty-seven in a traditional ceremony.”

Fela Kuti 27 wives

Afro Beat band leader Fela Kuti with his wives, backstage, Forest National Theatre, Brussels, Belgium, 1981. (Photo by Rico D’Rozario/Redferns)

The marriage had been originally planned for the 18th of February, the anniversary of the sacking of Kalakuta Republic. Fela recalls that while he was in Ghana he had reached a point where he was just sleeping with his dancers before he decided to marry them.

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Fela Kuti’s Lawyer Tunji Braithwaite at one point decided to stop the musician from getting married to 27 women. “This marriage cannot take place. It is against public morals. And me, as Fela’s lawyer, I am going to advise him that it’s against the law of this country and that he may be prosecuted for bigamy,” Braithwaite  is quoted in “Fela : This Bitch Of A Life” by Carlos Moore.

The names of the 27 wives were Fehintola Kayode (Seun’s mother), Damiregba (Naijite, Motun’s Mum), Keuwe Oghomienor (Kewe), Folake Oladeinde (Alake), Folake Oladejo, Ronke Edason, Laide, Emaruagheru Osawe, Ihase, ShadeShodeinde, Suru Eriomola, Tejumade Adebiyi,  Omolola Osaeti, Tokunbo Akran, Ronke, Adejonwo, Lamiley, Funmilayo, Adunni, Remilekun, Kikelomo, Lara and Bose.

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After the marriage, Fela Kuti was engaged in a rotation system where he had 12 of them with him at a particular time before he took all 27 of them to Ghana for the honeymoon.

By 1986, after his release from two years in prison, he divorced these women. None were forced to leave their home, though some had already moved on during his time in prison.