British filmmaker Steve McQueen has signed on to direct Fela, the Focus Features film based on the life of African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

According to Variety, McQueen will write the script with Biyi Bandele, based on the Michael Veal book "Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon." Fela, who died in 1997, was known for his Afrobeat musical style, which is a fusion of American jazz, funk and West African drums.

Fela lived large -- with some 27 wives -- and paid a high price for speaking out against oppression in Nigeria. In one attack on his home, Fela's 78-year-old mother was killed after being thrown from a second-story window. Fela responded by placing her coffin on the steps of the Nigerian leader's residence.

No production date has been set.