I’M NOW MATURE —YENI KUTI
Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Fela's eldest daughter, spoke with Entertainment Cafe on the forthcoming Felabration, changes in the family ten years after Fela's death and other issues
Q: It's 10 years since your father, the great Abami Eda, died. How do you feel?
A: I still miss him. I still think and dream about him.
Q: What has his death done to you? I mean, do you now feel more mature now?
A: Of course, yes. When you lose your parents, there is certainty a feeling, more mature, because you are now the parent and not the child. I believe I am no more a child but the parent, since I no longer have neither my father nor my mother alive. So, apparently, I am now a parent.
Q: It is often perceived that orphans are wicked after losing their parents, can we say you are also now wicked?
A: No. It's not as if I did not have parents. I had parents but they have passed on. They had already trained me before they died and if they say that orphans are wicked, it is a wrong impression, they are only strict. So, I can say that I am a strict person now.
Q: What have you learnt since your father died?
A: I have learnt a lot.
Q: Like what?
A: My ideology has changed. I have learnt to be honest and some other things. I have also learnt to be a proud African.
Q: When Fela died, there were controversies within the family, what is the situation now?
A: We are one.
Q: Can we then say that the crisis was caused by some of your family members?
A: Not really, but the outsiders. No family member caused it.
Q: How were you able to manage the crisis then?
A: It ran its course but after some time, we became friends again.
Q: We learnt that when Fela died, he left properties including his past records, for the family. Apart from the house on Gbemisola Street, what is the state of Fela's estate now?
A: We are all right. Actually, we are not rich, but we are not suffering. We had to divide the properties among his seven children.
Q: What are your expectations on the forthcoming Felabration?
A: I look forward to a fantastic festival.
Q: What do you intend to put in place for the festival?
A: Storm Entertainment is on board now. They are producing it and we are going to showcase both Nigerian and foreign artistes.
Q: Why did you change from La face Entertainment to Storm Entertainment as host of Felabration?
A: I had some differences with Laface.
Q: What really went wrong?
A: It's a long story and people have told me to keep quiet about it. But I can tell you authoritatively that I invited him to be part of Felabration and not him inviting me. More so, he did not invite himself and that is because I did not have enough time to source for sponsors. Now, he is saying that I am owing him. Who am I owing? Did he give me anything from the money he collected on the show? No. So, how can I be owing. I don't appreciate the fact that he is giving a wrong impression about me. The worst of it all is that before I asked Storm Entertainment to come on board, I got a consultant who kept inviting him to meetings, but he would not just turn up because he had been informed that this time around, there would be transparency.
Q: What was the involvement of Guinness and others in the last edition, did the company bring cash or what?
A: I don't know what happened. Laface dealt with them and I never had anything with them. I never saw the contract or anything.
Q: Now, what is the state of the New Afrika Shrine and how do you intend to operate the Felabration account?
A: Storm Entertainment is the promoter and we have agreed that everything will be done with transparency. We have an account and there will be no need for disagreement. About Afrika Shrine, we are trying. Although it is not easy to manage such an edifice, we are up to the task.
Q: What have been your challenges in managing the place?
A: We have different challenges. The electrician, carpenters and many other people are always cheating on us, but there's nothing we can do about that. However, I don't want to call all that challenges, but normal experience.
Q: You are looking big, healthy and young, what's the secret?
Q: What bad and good habits have you dropped and relatively imbibed since Fela died?
A: I have stopped smoking since Fela died and that has added to my weight.
Q: Do you have a daily beauty routine?
A: No, I only sleep and wake up. I also apply lotions on my body and hair, but I sleep a lot.
Q: Your daughter now studies abroad and you are at the Shrine, don't you think of getting married some day?
A: No, I am not getting married.
Q: Is it that suitors don't come around or you just ignore them?
A: I have a boyfriend.
Q: Is that why you have a ring on your finger?
A: No, this is just a ring, it's not an engagement ring.
Q: Apart from your boyfriend, how do you cope with suitors?
A: I don't know, but I say 'hi' to them.
Q: How do you control the pressure?
A: Actually, I don't have suitors.
Q: We have been seeing some of Fela's works in the market, who is in charge of the marketing and distribution?
A: Evergreen Records.
Q: Apart from the ones Evergreen produced, we have been seeing others, are they original?
A: No, those are pirated ones, but we shall put a stop to it.
Q: How soon do you intend to do that?
A: We are working towards it.
Q: People have been complaining about Fela's oldies produced by Evergreen, some are saying they are too expensive. How do you intend to make them available to the common man?
A: We are discussing with Evergreen right now, to make them cheap to purchase.
Q: How many years' contract have you with Evergreen?
A: Just few months.
Q: When will it expire?
A: Very soon.
Q: Do you wish to renew the contract?
A: He has been working on it.
Q: You have not told us if foreign artistes are expected at Felabration?
A: Yes, you should expect them.
Q: Who are they?
A: Storm is in-charge.
Q: Apart from being one of the organisers, what other things should be expected from you?
A: If I lose weight before then, I will dance during the festival.