Meet Josiah Jesse Ransome Kuti, Grandfather of Legendary Fela Kuti and Nigeria’s 1st Recorded Artiste

Meet Josiah Jesse Ransome Kuti, Grandfather of Legendary Fela Kuti and Nigeria’s 1st Recorded Artiste

  • Late Fela Kuti holds his place as one of the legends who defined the music scene in Nigeria, but as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree
  • Fela’s grandfather, Josiah Jesse Ransome Kuti, was a popular clergyman and music composer who made his own mark before departing the world
  • This great man's time on earth inspired generations after him to appreciate African music

The Kuti family holds their place in Nigeria’s history and the reasons are not farfetched. Members of the older and younger generation of this family have played important roles in shaping different cultures.

Talk about music, activism, medicine…there’s always one Kuti with a significant portion of history dedicated to them.

Josiah Ransome-Kuti
Meet Fela Kuti's grandfather. Photo: historyintwits
Source: UGC

The legendary Fela Kuti—whose name constantly rings a bell for the present generation—played an important role in pioneering the widely celebrated Afrobeats genre.

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However, many people may not know is that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Fela’s grandfather, Josiah Jesse Ransome Kuti, was also a music head.

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Early life of Josiah Jesse Ransome-Kuti

According to the early life history of this great man reported by Guardian Life, he was born to Egba parents on June 1, 1855.

At 4 years old, Josiah would later be baptized as a Christian—a decision taken by his mother to the disapproval of her husband, a staunch traditionalist.

When his father died in 1863, Josiah was able to fully embrace the Christian religion, and he would later head to Church Missionary Society (CMS) Training Institution, Abeokuta before transferring to CMS Training Institute in 1871.

How Josiah started music

Josiah Ransome-Kuti started off as a teacher in Abeokuta but this was a job he would eventually abandon after eight years, to teach music.

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He became a music teacher at the CMS Girls school in Lagos, and would eventually start offering hymns in the Yoruba language at the self-founded Gbagura Church in Abeokuta.

With a successful career as a music teacher, Josiah Ransome-Kuti felt it was time to actually release a project. This was what birthed an album in 1925 containing Yoruba hymns under Zonophone Records (now known as Warner Music Group) with the aid of a gramophone.

Before the album, Josiah had travelled to England in 1922, where he recorded a total of 43 songs.

Josiah Ransome-Kuti bagged the name “The singe minister” from the colonial masters. He was Nigeria’s first recorded artiste and an early pioneer of gospel music.

Some of his known songs include the popular Egba Anthem, Ise Agbe, and Eje Ko Omode Wa

Josiah Ransome Kuti's death

According to History Ville, Josiah Ransome-Kuti passed away at the age of 75 in September 1930.

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His descendants include Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Olikoye Ransome Kuti, Professor Wole Soyinka, Femi Ransome Kuti and Segun Kuti.

Femi Kuti shares funny story about late dad Fela Kuti

Meanwhile, reported that Nigerian musician Femi Kuti got his guests laughing at a father and son concert he hosted.

The award-winning singer shared a funny story from his childhood about his legendary father Fela Kuti.

The story revolved around how his father tried his African time mentality with Italian Airways many years ago but he regretted it.


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