•Says By That Time Her Partner Will Be 77
A few days ago, Femi Kuti’s sister, Yeni Kuti was our Guest on City People TV Instagram Live Chat and she told us how she has decided to marry in 2036 by which time she will be 75 and her partner 77.
This came as a shock to many people. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Please share with us what has been happening to you over the last 3 months. How did you spend the lockdown period?
The last 3 months have been really terrible with no work and business. Shrine is closed and we are not even happy at all but guess it’s a sacrifise we have to make.
So you couldn’t come up with any new thing and how did you make of the news when it broke?
You know I was in London when it first broke out and my daughter kept disturbing me that it is very serious but to be very honest I never took it serious, saying it’s Chinese wahala it is not our business. And then one day I entered a trip with someone I am sure had Corona, that day I was so worried that I had to jump down off the trip where the guy was and when I got home I promised myself I will never go out without my mask again. That was the first time I decided to take it serious but at that time when we were yet to have cases in Nigeria. So when I got to Nigeria, March 15th I was still saying it is not a Nigeria thing and all, but then something just told me that this thing we are not taking serious might turn out something big. So I and my brother decided to close down shrine.
And this was even before the government lockdown and that is how it has been since. So I went down from not believing to denial, to this thing is real and right now saying when will this thing end so that we can get back to making a living because right now we are not making a living.
So have you added weight?
Actually no, thank God I have been exercising like mad. In fact, I think that is the only good thing about Corona. It is just that I can’t show you my stomach on Instagram Live video. I would have been very proud to lift up my blouse and ask you to look at my stomach.
Why did you stop dancing, we know you use to dance a few years back?
I never stopped dancing, I only stopped dancing professionally. First of all, I was getting old and the girls were getting younger and I believe the best time to leave is when the ovation was loudest. I still train the girls and a couple of years back I went to Australia to do some dance workshop and I would have gone again this year but you the whole Corona thing.
Did you ever think you would be home for 6 months?
(Laughs) wow. If they had told me that in January I would have used that period to arrange my self. In fact, I saw one joke the other day, that one woman was saying that she is not going to change her date for this year to 2020 because she has not lived this year. I hate it when they say the New Normal because this is really abnormal for me. Human beings are social people, I am really tired of the whole phone call thing. I like to see humans talk to people and do other things. This life can suit Oyinbo but it can’t suit African people.
How is Femi taking it?
Femi is used to staying at home. Since this lockdown started he has not stepped out of the house. So, I was laughing at him that you that is staying at home someone will just go out and come and give you the Coro in the house: I cannot do it and I don’t know how he has been doing it.
This is this story online that says that you are going to be getting married at 75 and I am wondering why you said that?
(Laughs). Let me explain what happened when I was 55 my partner gave me an engagement ring and it was more of a commitment ring. Which means I want you to be my partner for life but after giving me the ring everybody started asking when is the wedding, so we now arranged amongst ourselves that when I am 75 and his 77 that we would do the party when people kept asking. But you see Nigerians they never stopped asking.
So we want to print invitations cards if God gives us long life we would print the invitations cards 24th May 2026 which happens to be my 75th birthday.
So you would print the card now and people will wait until that date?
Yes, and they will stop asking when is our wedding day. We are actually very happy this way so why spoil a good thing.
Well I don’t think it is spoiling anything because you have known for many years and all it changes is your name from Miss to Mrs.?
Ehn no problem in 2026, we will do that and when I have printed the inivations I will get you your own.
Let’s talk about your love for fashion?
You know I just dress the way I feel. I love clothes, it doesn’t have to be designers. I just love clothes. It can be 5,000 it can be 10,000. It’s not the price but how it looks and how I feel in it. I just love to look good and I think I got my style from my father, what I don’t know is it I was born with it or I got attracted by just watching him. I would actually love to start a fashion show just for upcoming designers to show what they have.
Nigerians are very talented. But Coro no go gree because everyone is in their house but trust me I love fashion
How do you explain your dad’s love for fashion because I still find it difficult to believe how fashion sat with him with his kind of person?
Well that is why I must have gotten it from him because I remember when they burnt Fela’s house he had over 500,000 outfit. His room had a cloth outlet, he had clothes and shoes to match. I use to watch him when his dressing up, he ask for your opinion and I notice I do that a lot too. I loved fashion. And a lot of people do not know that Fela loved ice cream and chocolate. In fact when he passed on his fridge has filled with sweet and chocolate.
How do you explain his love for sweet and chocolate?
How can I explain that, it is him that you will ask. When you want to do a story like 10 thing you never knew about Fela. His love for fashion, his love for sweet, ice cream and chocolate that would be the first 3 things that you would say.
I remembered what you said the last time I interviewed you, when I asked you why you call your dad Fela instead of Daddy. You said something about how Fela threatened that any child that calls him Daddy will lose his or her allowance?
Yes ooo. Because all our friends were calling their father daddy and we were calling our own Fela, Fela once said that if you dare call him daddy that we will lose our allowance and our brain set immediately.
How do you spend your days?
I promised myself I will just take the day as it comes I don’t stress myself because no one is going to stop living because you died so why stress yourself. I just take things easy because I want to reach that 75 for my wedding day.
So what are your plans for the remaining 6 months of the year?
Well, my dear, it is prayers oh, because Felaboration is in October and I don’t know what we are going to do.
We are praying for the shrine to open and every other thing, my daughter was meant to come June 11 but the airline cancelled the flight because Nigeria airlines are closed so we do not know when she is going to come. This year is really very abnormal, it is very difficult to plan the next day.
Do you think because it a leap year?
Is it a leap year? Well, I don’t know, I did not even realise. Maybe, but they have been many leap years. I am 59 do you know how many leap year I have passed through but they have never been a strange year like this, I just feel it’s just the world that wants to come to an end because this 2020 is really showing himself in a bad way.
So when do you think the Afrikan Shrine will open?
Ah, it is the government that will tell us when to open, we actually closed before the government asked us to do that but that doesn’t mean we can open before the government ask us to open. I would have loved to go show you how empty the shrine is but I the network will go off if I stand up.
How do you feel anytime you enter the shrine and you see how empty it is?
I feel very bad. You know the thing is whether shrine is open or not the expenses are still going to run, so I just have a headache when I think of all this. You can’t tell your staffs because you are not working you will not be paid, you must give them something to hold body. So this are all the challenges that we are facing.
How profitable is it running an outfit like shrine?
It is not like we are making billions but we get by and we try to make it easy for the people. He charges 500 for a gate fee when someone is performing, Thursdays are free and we sell the cheapest drinks. I am not one of the people that believe in making a big profit and then people are suffering. I think the more people you meet.
What do you have to say to our guest watching you all over the world?
Well, I will just advise that we all stay safe at home and drink a lot of lemon juice so that Coro will be far away from you.