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Read this INTERESTING interview Joan Omionawele had with Femi Kuti

interview Femi Kuti

Joan Omionaweleis a reporter with TRIBUNE and she had this very beautiful interview with Peter Edochie a while back.

 Her interviewee for the week is Nigerian musician, Femi Kuti and he said quite a lot of interesting things about Nigeria, his dad (Fela Kuti) and so much more. See excerpts below:

How
are you doing?

I don’t know. I’m tired, angry and
frustrated.
Why
is this so?

It’s either you don’t live in this
country or you are being a journalist. Is it the electricity or the traffic?
The traffic is just unbearable. Lagosians wake up at 4:00 a.m. and don’t get
home sometimes till 11:00 p.m. And how much does an average person earn? In
fact, I don’t want to talk again. I’m just tired.
What
do you think is the way forward?

Unfortunately, it seems it’s going to
have to be a revolution. There are too many people without jobs. The crime rate
has increased. Kidnapping has increased. Ritualists are on the rampage. When
you read the papers everyday, you must be totally unhappy. But when they talk
about revolution on social media, I know I am totally against it, because we
would be worse off than Syria, Egypt and Libya. When you look at great men like
Ghandi and Martin Luther King, you will understand that violence is not the
answer. The country is just horrible. There is no security. If you have
N100,000, it’s like nothing to you. Actually it would be like N1000 because
there are so many things you have to do, that you will not even know how you
have spent it! People will do anything to survive. I am bored of hearing myself
complain. I prefer to just shut up. As I am even complaining to you, I am
frustrating myself the more.
If
Fela were alive, what do you think would be going on in his mind right now?

He can’t be alive; he would still be
dead by now. He would have died of high blood pressure. He couldn’t be alive
when Obasanjo came back to rule. Don’t even go there. People voted Obasanjo
back into power! That would have just killed him.
You
still seem very angry about your grandma’s and Fela’s death. Talking about the
Centenary award which you rejected…

I don’t believe in that Centenary award.
Nigeria is a colonial structure where we still look at the Queen of England as
our boss. Is that award the problem of Nigeria? We are talking about Boko
Haram. We have never seen poverty at this magnitude before. Health care
services are failing. Education sector is also failing; so, what is there to
celebrate? Poverty? Ethnic violence? Religious differences? What exactly? Tell
me.
What
do you think about the political situation in the country?

As I said earlier, a revolution may
happen; but if the political situation was anything to write home about, we
would not be talking about revolution. But it seems people are not disgruntled;
they are happy with the political parties. People are happy with the way things
are going. They are happy that they can at least put three square meals on the
table for their families. Everyone is a hustler. Back then, corruption was in
just a sector – which was the government. Now there is corruption in every
sector. Even those who help with manual labour are also corrupt. For instance,
give your driver N5000 to buy fuel, he will buy only N2000 worth of fuel, give
the attendant N1000 and take the rest home. They believe that as the oga, you
are just plucking money from somewhere. They don’t know what it is to remain on
top and pay their salaries.
The leaders
are supposed to show us how to live with integrity, but we can’t even pick one
leader who is totally honest with the citizens. We are not a country that lacks
intelligence and resources; we are a blessed nation. But when you see places
like Murtala Mohammed Airport and you have never been in an airport, you will
wonder what I am complaining about. There is no amount they acquire in this
country that is enough for them; they just want more. They just want to steal,
steal and steal. They don’t take care of teachers, doctors; they don’t take
care of anybody but themselves. When a nation is ruled with integrity, we will
have good roads, quality education, free health care, state-of-the-art
airports.
But the
government has shown the youth that the only way to excel is through
corruption. The youth don’t want an ideal way to the top; they want jeeps,
private jets, mansions. They believe that when they take the genitals of
children and pregnant women, they will become billionaires. In the 60s, we
could buy Fanta for 10 kobo. Things were not this bad. We could even sleep with
our doors open. NEPA (National Electric Power Authority) would apologise to us
if they took our light; yet Fela was still complaining – not to talk of now.
Our situation is very scary. There is no day I don’t wake up scared.
You
regret being a Nigerian?

I don’t see myself as a Nigerian.
What’s
your educational background?

I didn’t study; I was self-thought
totally. But I was a lucky street kid whom God just gave a talent. I used to
tell Fela then that his parents gave him the best education and asked why he
refused to educate me.
So
when Fela was alive, you did not even go to secondary school?

I did, but I dropped out. He wanted me
to drop out to study music. I learnt how to play musical instruments on my own.
He got one man to train me, but my mother was very angry. He wanted to send me
to Ghana, but some things happened and I couldn’t go anymore. If I talk much
about myself, I kill the fighter in Fela – which I want people to see. Fela
would give everything before giving his family. In fact, we always had the
crumbs of whatever he was giving. I think he wanted us to see his life as an
activist and a crusader. There were many times he refused to pay our school
fees – which was N10, because he did not like the way the education sector had
turned out; which I understood. I am grateful because living the street life
has taught me how to mould my children to become the best in life.
How
many children do you have?

I have six (by myself) and adopted four.
And my youngest child is two years old.

Why did you choose to adopt?

I did because I only had one child then;
and when we moved to the Shrine, all the kids on the streets were Made’s
friends. But his life was moving very fast and I noticed that there would be
envy among them; so, I told him to choose four of his friends. He did, and I
took them up. They are in the universities now. They are even doing better than
Made in school. One is in Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University), while the other is
at UNILAG (University of Lagos). Then one wants to be a lawyer, while one wants
to go into cinema and arts. Then my own kids – I have two boys and two girls in
the primary school. I hope you get to meet Made someday. He has grown into a
cool-headed guy. He is into film production. When he comes, I will not let the
system here suppress him. I will not let my children go through what I have
been through.

What’s your relationship with your siblings?

It’s very nice; we greet. Apart from my
sister, Yeni, whom I am very close to, the next person to me is 10 years
younger than I am. I am over 20 years older than Seun. Thus I am old enough to
be his father. We all have mutual respect for each other. But I would not deny
that the closeness between my sister and I is more than the rest because two of
us grew up together and suffered the hard times together.

Any
regrets?

(There are) many; but of course, I won’t
let that overwhelm or make me lose focus. Regrets should make us
stronger. 

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