FELA’s Son, SEUN KUTI Gives Shocking Revelations
Talks About His Older Brother, FEMI KUTI
Seun & Femi Kuti
They both play Afrobeat music. And they are both accomplished entertainers, who play with separate bands. Both enjoy a good relationship as Brothers, but the wide age gap between them has not made them
But both relate well. Though they share the same father, they have different mothers. Femi shares the same mum, Remilekun Taylor with Yemi and Sola. Their mum is late. She was Fela’s 1st wife.
Seun also has a different mother who is called Fehintola. She is late also. She was one of Fela’s dancers before she became his wife. A few days back, City People spoke to Seun Kuti about his life. Below are excerpts.
Why do you always talk about only Fela and not your mum also?
That is not true. Oh, I talk about my mom as well but only when I am being asked to. I was quite close to my mum. I have a tattoo of my mum on my body.
My mum’s name is Fehintola Anikulapo-Kuti. Her maiden name is Ogunade. She is from Ipoti-Ekiti. She is late now. She used to sing with my dad. And she also sang with me. My mum is a veteran of many struggles with my dad. She has the scars to show for it.
She sang on a lot of albums with my dad. She is a very strict disciplinarian. She beat the shit out of me when I was young. She beat me for nothing. She just looks at me and says, men come here for beating. You just look too calm and nobody has beaten you for 3 days. Just come let me kick your ass. What else can I say? So basically that’s my mom in a nutshell…
How did you react when you heard the news about your father’s death?
It was kind of weird. It was really sad. What can I say? It has been 21 years now. It will be 22 years this August. It has been a long time. My dad and I were really close. We had a very close relationship. I grew up in Kalakuta with him. I spent every moment with him. And my father didn’t use to go out. If he goes out, I will go with him. He was just a constant.
He was like my Northern star. My father was actually the first person that I knew in my life that died.
And I was the closest person to him. So his death hit me. So, when I heard it on T.V I had to call Uncle Rashidi to confirm, It was Uncle Rashid Gbadamosi: that broke the news to me. I cried
That is weird. That is human grief for you. I felt very bad when my mom died. My mum was young. she was very young about 49 years of age when she died. But well, those are the challenges that come with life because it is only the living that experience death, the dead only experience dying. So we have to live with it.
Seun is also deep like Fela. You are as deep as your dad?
No, I don’t think I am as deep as my dad because my dad was spiritually very deep. Me, I am not spiritually very deep. I am Philosophically read, Politically in tune, Culturally in tune. Historically in tune. Yes. But not spiritually like my dad. My dad was so very much into the mystics and metaphysical things. That kind of intelligence that takes more energy to adapt to.
Lets talk about your lifestyle. Do you go to church?
No. I don’t go to church at all. I don’t do judgment of any kind.
Do you eat 3 times a day?
No. I eat when I am hungry. When I am hungry I send for food from my woman. My woman is a Chef. My partner is a Chef. She runs a Restaurant on the road there. Its nearby. When I am hungry she sends me food.
Why do you call her partner, my woman? Is she not your wife?
I prefer to call her my partner, or my woman. I don’t own her. We are not married. Thats why I don’t want to call her my wife. We are not like married in the institutionalised sense of it. We’ve been together for such a long time. We have a daughter as well.
Don’t you think it will be difficult for any woman to marry Seun Kuti?
Why? What do you mean by that? Somebody married Hitler now. What have I done? I am not that bad.
So why are you not married?
I don’t just believe in the institution of marriage. If I do, I would have married my woman, my partner a long time ago.
What’s your believe? How do you see marriage?
I just believe love is unconditional. So first of all when someone says go and make vows about your love, giving some conditions, its kind of makes it weird, especially not in this our modern day and age. They have made marriage so obsolete that no one really cares.
Nobody even cares any longer. Everybody just does it. And in Nigeria you do it. So that you can get contract. It is easier to get contract if you are married than if you are single. So, I think that is one of the reasons men get married, so that they can get jobs.
And also, I don’t believe in the concept of owning somebody, ownership is a concept that has been outlawed already. Nobody is supposed to own anybody. and then, this concept of my, my, my wife syndrome, I don’t like it.
That is the thing about the capitalist. They want you to believe that the only way something can be valuable is to own it. So this whole marriage thing is a business, in Nigeria, if you don’t own something you cannot value it, no one owns the air we pollute it. Everything is just lip service anyway. Nobody is really married to anybody.
We can see you have a big dog, why?
I have always been a dog person. I have always had big dogs I don’t like small dogs because you can really discipline them. They just go around the house doing nonsense. But big dogs are more intelligent and you can really talk to them. You can train them well. My dog’s name is Che. My former dog died on my birthday last year. It is only 11 months now.
Can you tell us one thing that you miss most about your dad?
Now as an adult I would not say I miss something in particular because I do everything for myself, I just miss his presence because if Fela was around I would go and see my dad and have a conversation about some something. There were a lot of things he said to me as a young man that I didn’t understand then. I miss those kind of things we used to talk about at my age then, I just imagine how we can get to have the kind of conversation we use to have back then.
What is your relationship like with your brother, Femi Kuti?
My brother Femi and I are quite close. He even messaged me a few minutes back wishing me a safe trip because I was supposed to travel this night. We had our troubles at the early stage, in the beginning, but it was not as serious, or crazy as people think or made it seem. Another thing is, people expect to see us walking hand in hand in the street.
Many don’t know that Femi Kuti is 21 years older than me. We are not mates at all. He is old enough to be my dad. So we don’t have much in common. We don’t even have friends in common. We don’t have any thing in common. People don’t understand that we are not friends but we are brothers. People expect us to be friends. They still expect us to do things in common. The age distance is a lot. We are talking of not 2 or 5 years. So people should just take it easy. It is a lot so I cannot go and play with him.
What do you call him?
I call him Brother Femi. He also wants us to call him Femi too but its not working. He doesn’t give us pocket money like Fela so nobody is listening to him (laughs). We all call him braa Femi.
Are you both thinking of working together any time soon?
Yes we are planning some project together. We can sit and write songs together. and we also have songs that my dad did not release. So we can decide to take them and freshen them up. It is going to be a big record, if we decide to do it. We are not rushing it. We both have thriving careers.
It’s not as if we both need it now. When the time comes we would do it. I have told him to be in my next album. We spoke about it when we met last. It is not as if the idea is not there. It is just that the need is not there.
We have noticed that Seun now wears a new look, with your strange hairstyle. Why was there a need for this?
Well, this is not a new look I am bald, so hair does not grow on this side and it does not grow in this front side here. So, I had to share everything. I am trying to grow one lock at the back of my head. And it is taking time to grow. So, I decided to leave some hair behind my head to form a dread. It has been there for long but, with time, I am hoping to achieve what I want with the hair, to have a really nice lock.