A couple of weeks back, Afrobeat originator, Fela’s first child, Yeni Kuti gave out her only daughter in a traditional marriage to Benedict Jacka, a Russian. The family is now getting set for the white wedding taking place in London on August 15.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with Yeni about the success of the wedding, preparations for the forthcoming white wedding and sundry issues.
A couple of weeks back, you staged a superlative wedding for your daughter, Rolari. How do you feel about the event?
I am very happy. I am happy it was a resounding success. I thought it was important to have a traditional engagement before any other thing. I thank all the people who assisted me in making it a reality. I’m exceptionally grateful for all they did for me. I just can’t thank them enough.
How does it feel giving your daughter’s hand in marriage to a foreigner?
I am not a racist. I look at all people as equal. That is who she fell in love with. That is who she loved to marry. Her happiness is paramount to me. I am not after my own happiness, but hers. That is who makes her happy. I don’t see colour.
Yes, they did.
When your daughter brought Benedict home for the first time, what was your reaction?
I met him in England. That was last year. I wanted to get to know him, tell him how I felt about my daughter. I didn’t want anybody who is not serious to be around her. I don’t want anybody to hurt her. By all indications, he’s a nice boy to me. He came in December to ask for her hand in marriage. At that time, I told them it was no problem, but they have to do the traditional marriage. They accepted and came for it.
Not having Rolari’s father on ground with you, how did it feel that day?
It was very sad for me and for her. How I wish he was here. But her two uncles stood by us. My brother , Femi and her father’s brother gave us all the support we needed. They stood as father figure for her. I am happy about that. But I am sad that her father had passed on.
How much did the wedding cost?
It is not possible to tell you that.
The white wedding is in August, what preparations have you put in place in respect of that?
It is the groom’s family that will take over that one. My friends are coming with me. We are getting ready. We are taking London by storm the Naija way.
Who are the people that will be going, are you sponsoring them?
We are not sponsoring anybody. They are all finding their way. We will definitely have our aso ebi. We are portraying our culture. It is important we showcase our culture over there, my friends and as many as are interested to go.
How supportive are the Kutis for the wedding?
All the family members were supportive.
Would you have been happier if Rolari had married a Nigerian?
It will not make a difference. Like I said, her happiness is my happiness. Whatever she wants is what I will accept as long as she brings a human being. I am very okay with her choice.
When did you take the decision for her to school abroad?
As she was growing up, she had always said she wanted to school abroad. When I inherited money from my father’s estate, I didn’t spend it. I just saved it for her education abroad. That was how I was able to afford her education abroad. I started that before she was 13. I kept the money in a fixed deposit until she was ready to travel abroad. Then, universities in Nigeria were on intermittent strike. So, she insisted she wanted to school abroad and we worked towards it.
Now that your daughter is married, what are the things you will tell her from your wealth of experience?
She should not allow any in-law or relative to intrude into their business. They shouldn’t take their problem to any family member even me or her husband’s parents. They should solve their problems internally. Communication is the key to any long lasting relationship. If they can communicate well, it will help their relationship. Once they allow external influence, it will affect their relationship.
How often do you travel to check on her?
How will you describe your daughter?
She is on the quiet side. She is very shy, very reserved but a hard worker. I am very proud of her because she is an independent girl. She never collected money from me for many years. After she graduated a couple of years back, I tried to trick her so that she could stay in Nigeria. I asked her to stay back home but she refused. I told her that if she wants to stay abroad, she would be responsible for her upkeep. Surprisingly, she said she wouldn’t mind. I brought her ticket and she left. She didn’t look back. She had been working for some years now. She had been sending me things. Whenever she is coming home, she buys loads of things for me. She is the one catering for me now. She said I will retire and come and stay with her in England some day.
Are you considering relocating abroad after retirement?
No, I can’t. I love my country. I cannot imagine living anywhere else except here. As much as I love to travel, I just want to travel to see the world. Home is home any time. I am always happy to be home. Even though they frustrate us, I still love Nigeria.
If you retire today, who will take over the helm of affairs at the Afrikan Shrine?
God will provide. I have learnt that our Creator doesn’t create a vacuum, there will always be a replacement.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN