The Birth of AfroBeat

Filmmaker Opiyo Okeyo's hybrid live-action/animated short, The Birth of AfroBeat, about legendary Nigerian percussionist Tony Oladipo Allen, combines the best of documentary storytelling with the enchantment of animation. The film is animated by Mel Roach.

Allen, who died in May 2020, was a longtime collaborator and friend of renowned musician and social justice advocate Fela Kuti. In 2017, he was invited to the United States to executive produce the band Chicago Afrobeat Project. During his visit, he recounted how he and Kuti laid the groundwork for what would become the Afrobeat sound. The film illustrates his story.

The Birth of AfroBeat was featured in BPM's Season 12 of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Experience. For that series, the short was paired with feature-length documentary, My Friend Fela,  by Joel Zito Araújo. To watch both films, scroll through the list of AfroPoP Season 12 offerings below and select the My Friend Fela  program. The AfroBeat short follows the feature-length film.


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Opiyo Okeyo and Mel Roach

Opiyo Okeyo is an writer, filmmaker, and founder of Rest In Beats, a production house creating projects that emphasize legacy and intergenerational dialogue in music. Opiyo began his career with Discovery Channel and has worked with MTV, The Players' Tribune, Condé Nast Entertainment, among others. Birth of Afrobeat is his directorial debut.

Mel Roach is an Australian animator and writer. Her cartoon short Rocket Dog (2013) has attracted nearly 2 million views on You Tube and is in development as television series.

Opiyo Okeyo, Producer, Director, Editor and Cinematographer

David Glines, Producer

Eric Trosset, Producer

Mel Roach, Animation

Michael Gabriel, Cinematographer

Matt Giordano, Re-recording Mixer

Tony Allen, Music

Lee Rosevere, Music

Kasiemba, Music

Chicago Afrobeat Project, Music






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