Funke Kuti, the estranged wife of Afrobeat king, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti gas finally opens up on why she left her former place of employment, National Sport Lottery, maintaining she now has time to concentrate on her dream which is event and artiste management under her company, FK Management. The mother of one child also commented on Femi Kuti and the only child between them, Made, insisting that the divorce papers served her didn’t come as a surprise and that she has agreed to allow the case to go on without nursing any ill feelings towards anybody. On how she has been coping without a husband or eight years, Funke revealed her work and other engagements take most of her time.
You worked at NSL for years and then suddenly you left the place. What happened?
I didn’t leave suddenly, it was something I had planned and I discussed with my MD and the management team. When I was ready, they gave me their blessing. It wasn’t abrupt decision on my part.
For how long did you talk things over before you left?
It took a while, but the final discussion took about two to three months. But I wasn’t really serious about it because I felt the timing wasn’t right. And two, my MD used to say, “Don’t ever resign at a place when you are not ready to leave because if you do and they persuade you to stay, you will never enjoy trust and respect like before.” So, that also made me take my time before leaving.
But there were talks that you actually left because the company was down and laying off staffers and owing salaries?
The company was not down. As at the time I left, the company was running smoothly. It was sustaining its operations, so all those issues you mentioned didn’t come up at all. I left because I felt the time was right for me to leave, it was a decision based on personal projections.
What were your plans when you left?
To fully concentrate on running my company, FK Management. It’s an event, public relations and artiste management firm. I left NSL to be fully involved in running the company, to take it to the next level. Before I left NSL, I was running it by the side and when I felt the time was ripe for me to be fully involved, I left to take full charge of the operations – and here I Am.
So, how has it been since you started running your company full time?
It’s been competitive with other established brands. But we are getting there. We are still green horns in the industry but we have started making headway, working on some projects right now. Our effort will soon start manifesting.
What are the challenges in running your type of company?
The industry is filled with many other brands and competition requires a certain level of ingenuity, having to prove a major point as a new company. There is the economic challenge as well and other related issues.
What d you think will give FK Management that edge above others?
The innovation we are bringing into play. We are fresh, we are new and we have a burning desire to succeed and do something extraordinary. The zeal, passion and commitment with which we have to execute our task is inestimable. And there is depth of experience I have garnered over the years working before and at NSL. Being a part of Femi Kuti’s Positive Force has helped prepare me for the challenges of the artiste management beat. Then w went on tours all over the world, his whole international management team (manager, publicist, tour manager, etc) travelled with us, I saw them work and my love for the entertainment industry made me want to learn more. So, I started reading extensively on artiste management and doing researches on my own. For running the business, the public relations and event management aspect of the company, I gained an overwhelming wealth of experience from NSL as the bedrock of my preparation for the task ahead. Before I resigned, I handled concurrently in some cases such departments as public relations, events, sponsorship, marketing, foundations, administration and sales. I believe with these experiences at at my fingertips, my determination and drive, there is absolutely no reason for me not to succeed at FK Management. We have more than it takes to deliver and succeed.
There is nothing to it other than the case is in court.
Did ti come to you as a surprise?
I wouldn’t say I came as a surprise because we have lived apart for so long. And ordinarily, I think it takes only three years to live apart for any of the parties involved in such a case to sue for divorce. So, based on that, it didn’t come as a surprise.
What kind of relationship exists between the two of you now?
We are very good friends, we still talk on phone. I mean, he is the father of my son, we all talk. There is no bitterness, no rancor, the divorce is by mutual consent.
What is the relationship with other family members?
We all have a cordial relationship. That there is a divorce or something does not make us enemies. Don’t forget that it’s a decision between two matured people. Just like Femi, I have a good relationship with all the other Kutis.
What do you miss about Femi Kuti?
The issue of missing anything does not arise, he is still very much alive. We are still friends, we are not quarrelling. The only thing is we don’t stay together. We talk, we communicate, the rapport is there and we have a son. I don’t think the issue of missing anything should arise.
How have you coped without a husband for eight years?
I have my job to keep me company. The challenges and the gains and the pains of overcoming those challenges and of course the joy of triumph, and there is the task of jointly raising my son too. So, all these things have kept me going.
I am not thinking of marriage, I am totally focused on taking my business to the next level. So thinking about remarrying at this stage is nothing but a distraction and I think that’s enough.
What do you miss about being employed?
Maybe the security of the monthly salary. But I don’t think that makes up for the joy and freedom of living your dreams and breaking new grounds.
What target do you set for yourself?
To successfully execute our mapped out plans at FK Management. Presently, we are working on a celebrity football tournament for four charity homes tagged Big Heart Celebrity Soccer. The response from the celebrities has been amazing, it’s really nice to know that they are charity conscious.
When will this take place?
October 2011. We are working on the sponsorship presently. It’s an interesting concept, we are looking at making it an annual event. Then in December, we are working on a major event.
No, I don’t have. Maybe I would have loved to change one or two things but no regret.
If you get the change to live your life again, will you live it same way again?
Yes, why not? With minimal change, because nobody is perfect.
*This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, July 26, 2011