Lemi Ghariokwu was the visionary who translated Fela Kuti’s visions into illustrations. Working closely with Fela for almost 30 years, Lemi created the majority of Fela’s covers we have come to know and love.

“I met him at 18, but I was prepared for the role I eventually played with him because I already had my African consciousness.”

— Lemi Ghariokwu


Fela gave Lemi unparalleled liberty and artistic freedom, launching him into a four decade-long career.  Kuti often approved sleeves with a single trademark phrase: ‘wow, goddamn’.

“I’ve been lucky because the powers that be don’t take visual art too seriously; they don’t know the power that it has, so that’s why I escaped getting arrested”

— Lemi Ghariokwu


This incredible dynamic is exactly what makes Ghariokwu’s work so compelling. The artist’s uncompromising approach is a mouthpiece for Kuti’s own militant message, communicated loud and clear in paint and photography. Even decades later, Lemi’s bright colours and striking subject matter still sears into the brain, with contemporary cover designers offering little in the way of comparison.

“That’s one of many things that I will never forget Fela for. I’ll always be eternally grateful for the opportunities he gave me. I was like a comrade in arms with him because I shared the ideology in totality.”

— Lemi Ghariokwu