By Nehru Odeh
Two prominent members of Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s family, Yeni and Seun, have responded to Baba Ani’s allegation against Femi Kuti, giving the lie to what they regard as an attempt to divide their family. They stopped short of calling him a bloody liar.
Lekan Animashaun, aka Baba Ani and former Fela’s band manager who recently celebrated his 85th birthday, had alleged in an interview with Arise TV that Femi barred him from entering The New Afrika Shrine because he refused to join his (Femi’s) band. Baba Ani said he preferred to work with Seun since Femi was not someone he would love to work with.
His words: “I was banned from entering the shrine by Femi. When Fela died, and Beko, who was then the manager of the band, was in prison. On two occasions, Femi called me privately, asking me if I was going to join him, or his uncle and Seun. So, I told him that you are the most senior son of Fela, and everything Fela left behind is in your hands. I was not cool with the questions.
“As time went by, he saw that I was more with Seun and the Egypt 80 band… Mind you, this is a young man I know very well. So, I decided to go with Seun. I was mentoring Seun, even before Fela died. So, I think that was my offense.
“The very first day at the Egypt 80 band, because there was a quarrel and they had to go to court, the judge in charge of the case settled the matter in the chambers, and somewhere along the line, Seun was asked to start coming to play at the shrine.
“On the very first day the band was going to play there, I got to Kalakuta, Fela’s house in Ikeja. I went upstairs to meet Seun and he told me he wouldn’t like me to be present at the show. I asked why, he said anytime he was discussing with his egbons (sic), and he mentioned his name, what they used to say was unprintable. So, please don’t go with the band, and he assured me that I would be paid regardless.
“When he got to the shrine that night, they went upstairs in his office to greet him, and he was so annoyed. Looking for his gun. He started to hurl insults at me. Somewhere along with his rant, he told the boys to tell me not to show my face at the shrine anytime. Since that time, I had not gone there as well, I was banned from entering the shrine.”
Baba Ani not only stirred the hornet’s nest with that viral interview, but also elicited responses from Yeni Kuti, the eldest child of the Afrobeat legend and Seun Kuti. Both of them have rallied around Femi and stood with the family.
Yeni, who expressed her displeasure at the allegation, said Baba Ani was one of the divisive forces that tried to tear Fela’s family apart after her father’s demise, adding that all what he said in that interview were outright lies. Yeni made this disclosure in a Facebook post.
“I feel that what has been going on on different platforms on social media deserves a comment from me as the eldest of the Kuti children.
“When Fela died, a lot of people tried to push their own agendas and for a while succeeded in dividing the family. It took a lot of wisdom and patience from Femi and I as the eldest of Fela to bring peace again to the family.
“We faced many challenges, from abuse in the media, face to face and in many other ways. Our Creator surpassed them all and today except for little wrangling in the family, we are at peace and we are one.
“I will not bother to go into some of the challenges we faced but I will say that I am surprised that one of the perpetrators and feeders of the ‘war’ in the family has come up to give a narrative of outright lies instead of being an elder and trying to make things right, is trying to fan once again flames of discord.
“As long as I am alive I will continue to make sure they fail. The Kuti family remain a United family. May Our Creator continue to bless everyone who has stood by us. I rest my case @femiakuti @bigbirdkuti @madekuti @kunle.a.kuti @motunrayoanikulapokuti.”
However, Seun Kuti, Afrobeat musician leader of the Egypt 80 band has also lent his voice to the Kuti’s family response. In a response he posted on Facebook, not only did he debunk Baba Ani’s allegations, he also said he stands with his family and elder brother.
“It has come to my attention that some stories are occupying social media due to what Baba Ani alleged. That is what it is, an allegation not totally factual.
“My family and I decided years ago to let peace reign, I have spoken to Baba Ani several times too. I’m shocked he has decided to open up old wounds and fabricate the truth. And as I have pointed out to him, I stand with my family and brother Femi Anikulapo-Kuti,” he wrote.