Growing up as the first of the seven children of Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Yeni Kuti has said having twenty-seven step-mothers, at the time, was quite interesting for her as a child.
The Felabration pioneer, in a chat on Jimi Disu’s ‘The Discourse‘, recounted her childhood memories saying, “I was excited really but I’m sure my mother wasn’t. Now that I’m grown up, I can imagine how my mother felt. But at that age, for me, it was exciting to have new brothers and sisters.”
The 56-year-old revealed the struggles her mother went through as one of Fela’s concubines.
She said: “For a long time, Fela wasn’t paying our rent and so my mother took us all to go stay with Fela. My mother had her own place at Kalakuta and she was there for a couple of years.”
Through it all, her mother who was very much in love with her Fela, stayed. When asked how she felt watching the unconventional musician be himself, Yeni said, “She had no choice. What would she do? She loved him to a fault.”
Though she admires the determination, Yeni bears no such passion. When asked if she would do same, she abruptly said, “At all. Ask Mr. Lawson he knows.”
With the country in a serious political shake following the absence of the president for over three months, Yeni wouldn’t exactly be rooting for anyone because “I have no friend in politics ”
However, one striking political name, Bukola Saraki, senate president, who has been making the news of recent, reminds the former dancer of one of Fela’s songs.
She said: “When I saw the news, one of Fela’s songs came to my mind and it is the one he sings about government magic.”
Yeni doesnt remember being close to her dad but she is certain she inherited some qualities from him. One of which is his giving nature, “Fela loved to share. I think I take a bit of that from him.”
The current manager of the shrine, however, said unlike her, her brother, Femi Kuti, is quite the opposite. Yeni said that Femi is “frugal” when it comes to giving and this may be as a result of his somewhat hard childhood.
“Femi is not a spend thrift. He is reserved, but because of experiences. He has had some hard knocks and so he is withdrawn. [Although] he would still help people who come to live at the shrine.”