August 2 is remembered annually as the day the great Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, died.  His ideological influence in world music and visual art was at the core of a two-hour chat with renowned artist, Lemi Ghariokwu. Yinka Olatunbosun reports

Few people know he was born Emmanuel Sunday. A baptismal name, you could call it. But that was 59 years ago in Lagos. Since then, the name, Lemi Ghariokwu, has become synonymous with the designing of the album covers for the Afro-beat legend, Fela, amongst other achievements. Beyond all that, Lemi Ghariokwu had chosen a clear path for himself in visual art though it was his love for music and social consciousness that drew him to Fela. For Ghariokwu, it was no accident; it was a predestined role.
Between his preparations for an exhibition in South Africa and routine studio work, he relished those cherished moments he had spent in the proximity of the musical icon in his Palmgrove, Lagos studio last Tuesday.
“By the time I met Fela, I was already prepared for that role,” he told his guest. “I had always liked drawing even in school. It used to put me in trouble. When the mathematics teacher was teaching, I would draw her. I changed my name when Fela changed his name to Anikulapo. I went to the high court [to effect] the change of name.’’
His first drawing, he recalled, was perhaps the image of car he drew on the sand.“That day, I think it was either the Sarduana or Tafawa Balewa in a Chevrolet that came to visit Kasua, a high-class woman in my area. The car was very silent. I didn’t even hear the siren. Someone then gave me a knock; asking me to leave the road. That was my first conscious experience of drawing.’’
In 1966, when he turned 11, he began following the travails of the late South African musical legend, Miriam Makeba who was then exiled in the US. Ghariokwu’s passion for music glowed through his reminiscences of the songs that influenced him in his growing years. He sang some of the 60s songs, hoping to establish a common ground in music knowledge with the reporter-guest. He intuitively substituted the songs with further explanation

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