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Yeni Kuti @ 55 : 4 milestones in the life of Fela’s first child


Omoyeni Anikulapo Kuti, turned 55 yesterday ( Tuesday, May 24) to the delight of family, friends and fans. The beautiful daughter of legendary King of classical African music (Olufela Anikulapo Kuti), she has had a wonderful life, growing up in the home of a super star father who combined music with activism and fearlessness.

Popularly addressed as YK Power, Yeni cannot forget  these  4 milestones in her life…

1. Coming into the world in 1961 in England, she has mixed blood. Her full blooded Nigerian father married the ‘half caste ‘ Remi Taylor. The richness of that mixture gave her a beautiful skin and lush, full and curly hair which she still keeps in its natural state, not contaminated by chemicals.

Her enviable pedigree dating back to her paternal great grandfather, grandfather and grandmother are the stuff of fairytale. Educationists, musicologists, clergy are mixed with fearless activism.

Yeni’s siblings were born in quick succession. FEMI in 1962 and late Sola in 1963.

2. Many passages have touched Yeni closely. The death of her father in 1997, her sister, her mum and maternal and paternal grandmothers all left indelible impressions on her.

Her sister (who was cremated in the outskirts of Lagos) died from cancer. So did her mum.

Both Yeni and Sola were so close, living in the same house with their brother, mum and grandma.  Dancing and singing in FEMI’ s Positive Band, and traveling the world. As her sickness raged, she bore it and danced until she had to be admitted in hospital. It was too late when her ailment was discovered. The chemotherapy was painful and left Yeni distraught as her sister cried in pain.

Her mother also died of cancer, leaving her devastated. And the death of her grandmothers left pains in her bosom.

And when she lost FEMI SEGUN, her former husband and father of her only child (Rolari), she was inconsolable. The polyglot and  debonair gentleman died in March 2014 in a motorcycle accident in Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1. He suffered a broken spinal cord and broken bones, living for one week in excruciating  pains before he passed on.

3. Colourful  moments, happy times have also dominated her world. Yeni got married in Ikeja , Lagos, at a beautiful ceremony when her husband still worked as a diplomat. She had Rolari, and Made (Femi’s son by Funke) came after. Both children practically grew up as siblings, in a loving shelter .

Many years after, Rolari graduated from a university in Leeds, adding a masters degree to her kitty. Now the young woman is married to Benedict Jacka (in 2015). The traditional engagement at the African Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos, was as wondrous as it was joyous. A white wedding in the United Kingdom later in August 2015 brought the Kutis, Seguns and extended  families together in a happy and joyful ceremony.

His brother has reigned unchallenged as the king of Afrobeat, garnering four Grammy nominations and winning awards across the world.

Their father’s fame and fortunes multiplied in death. With a museum sponsored by Lagos State government in his honour, at his Gbemisola Street, Ikeja , Lagos property, his memory is kept alive.

The Broadway musical, Fela has fast forwarded Fela’s reputation as one of the greatest composers, arrangers and producers ever to tread the earth.

They also have the New Afrikan Shrine, in Agindigbi, doing well and promoting the genre and family name. And with Felabration, a yearly festival celebrating the iconoclast, they have  a good brand on their hands.

Now a presenter on TVC’s Your View, along side Morayo Afolabi Brown and Jumoke Alawode James, Osayuwamen Saleh, Tope Mark Odigie,Nyma  Akashat Zibiri, among others, she has a platform to air her views.

4. In a loving relationship with Theo Lawson, she is enjoying herself but not ready to give marriage another shot. After she and her husband, FEMI Segun decided to part ways, she has remained very single.

But when she found Theo Lawson who runs Total Consult and Freedom Park , among other businesses, she appears to have found joy and contentment in the dalliance. Theo himself used to be married.

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