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Meeting Fela As A Youth Brought Me Fame- Lemi Ghariokwu

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When a man discovers his purpose in life, fulfilment and peace is the fruit of the bearer.

This sums up the testimony of ace graphic and visual artiste, Lemi Ghariokwu, the pioneer of creative album jacket and sleeve designer who became famous as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s album designer.

Ghariokwu who was born as Emmanuel Sunday hails from Delta State. In an interview with e-Rendezvous, he said it was his destiny to meet Fela as a juvenile.

The father of four whose album design of Fela’s ‘Alagbon Close’ got rave reviews stated that he met Fela at age 19 through the reporter of the then SUNDAY PUNCH who saw his portrait design and was thrilled by it asking if he could draw Fela’s portrait too.

“It was the portrait design of Fela I did within hours that made me to meet him and Fela remarked ‘Gademmit!’ enthralled by it. He gave me some money but I turned it down because my spirit didn’t allow me to take it. Instead I earned a free entry to all his shows at Kalakuta and that was more than the money for a young lad.

“It was the album design of Alagbon Close that made Fela to really respect my talent in the arts as it further passed his message in the songs composed after he was arrested and maltreated by the police. Fela had multiple stitches on his head as the police broke his head. Initially I was to study Fine Arts at Yaba College of Technology but having become self-conscious and read books from Fela’s library and got impacted by his ideology of Pan Africanism, I became a self-taught illustrator and graphics artist. Fela told me, ‘this album design na your work na. You have a job already’ and I designed 26 of his album jackets. This is no mean feat as it opened a door of self-consciousness to me,” Lemi said.

The celebrity who is in his mid-60s and still practising as a visual and graphics artist noted that being real to oneself and allowing one’s inner mind to direct is important in becoming great in life.



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