Cover Stories, Interviews

Yeni Kuti on Felabration – ‘We’re waiting for sponsors’

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THIS year’s Felabration promises to be the most talked about as the organizers are already crossing their ‘t’s and dotting their ‘i’s.

ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with Yeni Kuti, first daughter of late Afrobeat creator, Fela, about preparations and expectations of 2015 edition of Felabration tagged, Just Like That…

How are preparations for this year’s Felabration?

It has not been easy.  As we are talking now, only one sponsor has dropped money.  And we have to pay for air fare for people coming from abroad.  Some people are coming from Chile.  We have to do their visas, tickets.  Some are coming from America, we have to follow the same process.

A couple of sponsors backed out like NBL.  They promised and now, they are saying there is no money.  You can see that it is not easy.

Can you tell us about this year’s theme?

The theme is Just like that.  It is the title of one of Fela’s records.  Let me read what Fela said in Just like that: “We in Africa must start to think our own tradition where human beings and nature grow, where creativity and understanding must be.  Right now, think now, fight now, suffer must stop, just like that…

The creation of a beginning, the transformation of our people for a glorious future, from the old to the new, Just like that.  It is about transformation, from the old to the new.

So far, will you say you are fulfilled organizing Felabration?

Where is the fulfillment?  We don’t have sponsors yet for this year’s edition.  All the same, I must say I am happy about Felabration.  It has become a worldwide name.  They celebrate Felabration all over the world now.  They will have Felabration in London, New York, Belgium.  I am happy that a lot of people look forward to Felabration.  A lot of people talk about it.  I am happy that we have made it a household name.  If it is from the perspective of people, I am happy.  If it is from the point of view of sponsors, I am not happy at all.  But generally, I cannot complain.  If we had money, Felabration would be bigger and better.

Apart from remembering your dad, what else is the motive behind Felabration?

That is the motive, remembering my father.  Celebrating his life and times.  Celebrating music in Africa.  Celebrating music all over the world.  Using music to bring black and white together, from the East, West, North, South of the world.  It is only when we work as one, that is when the world will move forward.  We should stop thinking of war.  Look at the migration crisis, I can’t imagine such happening to me.  It must be a terrible experience.  Leaving your home and everything you have because of war, it is terrible.  I cannot imagine what those people are going through.  Felabration is just to forget our worries, have fun, music and be united.

How prepared are you security wise?

We are always prepared.  Felabration is one of the safest festivals.  We have over 250 security operatives, the police, civil defence inclusive.

Can you tell us the number of guests you are expecting?

I don’t know, thousands of people will be present.

Can you tell us the unique feature of this year’s edition?

We are inviting an Afrobeat band from Chile.  They are happy about coming to Africa and Nigeria.  They play Fela’s music and their own brand of Afrobeat.  We have another Afrobeat band coming from London as well.  They are sponsored by Zmirage. I am sure Nigerian artistes will also support us, I pray that this year’s will not be different.  Sandra Isadore is coming as well, she sang Upside down in one of Fela’s album.

What lapses did you notice in previous editions that you will like to work on?

I cannot think of any right now.  Over the years, we have tried our best.  It is only money that can resolve any lapse, but to the best of our ability, we have tried.

Which was your favourite edition and why?

Every year was wonderful.  I have enjoyed every edition.  Though I must say, last year, I had an accountant who was paying.  I didn’t have to over stretch myself. Two years ago, I got sick, after the event.  I couldn’t get off the bed.  After last year’s Felabration, I was back to my exercise the following day.  I felt very good with myself.

Can you share some of the challenges of having to put Felabration together every year?

The major challenge is sponsorship.  Once that is out, we can resolve others.  With money, you will be able to do a whole lot of things.

How much does it cost to put the show together?

I cannot say.  It costs a whole lot.  That is why I am emphasizing on sponsorship.

Aside the cost, what does it take to put Felabration together?

It takes energy, time, prayer, dedication.  It takes a lot of things.  I will say the committee has been dedicated, we are about 15 working to make it happen.  There are a lot of activities.  I pray for a normal, peaceful, successful and enjoyable Felabration as usual.

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