AFROBEAT king, Femi Anikulapo Kuti will be busy all through the better part of October 2013. The three time Grammy Award nominee will shuttle between The Muson at 30 concerts scheduled for Saturday, October 19 to October 27, 2013 and Felabration, the annual festival to celebrate the life and times of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
The saxophonist spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly about his plans for these two events and more…
Will you be around for this year’s Felabration?
I have vowed never to miss it again. Last year, I was on tour. This time around, I will be on ground. It was so painful to have missed the event last year, just to feel the love of the people alone is a great thing.
You seem to exert lesser energy on stage now, are you taking it lightly because of age?
Yes, I am getting older. My knees are aching now. After every performance, I feel it. People don’t normally see it while I am on stage but internally, I am feeling the pain. I am not like I was four or five years ago. I don’t know how long this energy would take me. But I would love to sing till my dying days.
So, what do you do to refresh yourself?
Practice, I think if I stop practicing I would kill myself. I still do every day six hours. I don’t leave my house until I practice. I feel disappointed if I don’t practice and to go back if I don’t do it early in the morning will be very difficult. I wake up early in the morning and practice six hours.
How do you plan for shows and concerts?
Every show and concert is different. I never plan ahead. I was in Ghana recently. I have to psyche the audience. I consider the type of audience I am playing for, young or old. So, I walk around the beat and decide on the one to use. I have enough songs in my collections for every age group.
You will be involved in two events very soon, the Felabration and The Muson Festival. How prepared are you for these two events?
I am always prepared. I told you I practice six hours every day. When you get to this stage in life, you have to always be prepared, you have no excuse to give your fans. The two events come at a time when I will be very tired. Already, I am thinking of how to juggle the two. I will be having sleepless nights. I have to preserve my voice. Some of the artistes want me to perform with them for Felabration and then play at another show. I will be completely exhausted. My mind is already prepared for this. The worst thing that can happen to an artiste at a show is to lose his or her voice.
What is your message as Nigeria celebrates 53?
Our leaders have shown us that you cannot be successful if you are not corrupt. We tolerate corruption, that is why the government can pardon one of the most corrupt persons in the world, Alamieyesigha (former Governor of Bayelsa State). What message is that sending out? There is corruption everywhere that the government do not have the means to address the needs of the people. No electricity, universities have been on strike for more than three months now, nobody is addressing that. The private schools are expensive and how much is the salary of an average Nigerian that they will be able to afford their fees? That means about 90 per cent of the population will not be able to give their children good and quality education. So the future is terrible. I am optimistic that things will be better. I am not a supporter of violent revolution. It may not be in my lifetime, things will be better. Nigerians voted for these our leaders and now they are complaining.
THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15 2013