THE annual festival in celebration of late Fela Anikulapo Kuti Felabration, kicks off on Monday, October 14, 2013. Yeni Kuti, one of the organizers spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly about preparations for the event, artistes that will be on parade and more…
We start with the school debate on Tuesday, the symposium as usual. We were supposed to go to Ogun State but the approval came late. So next year, Felabration will start in Ogun State and in Lagos State. We have people coming from all around the world including Ghana. We have Bob Marley’s son, hopefully if he can get his visa. We are supposed to have Rita Marley but we got an e-mail that she is not feeling alright now. We hope she gets better before the festival. She is to participate in the symposium.
What informed the involvement of the family of late Bob Marley in this year’s Felabration?
The theme for this year is Movement of the People. Fela did a song called Movement of the People and Bob Marley did Exodus, with the chorus Movement of the People. Since both of them had something in common we just felt we should involve them in this year’s symposium. We are going to highlight the similarities between Fela and Bob Marley. I actually travelled a month ago to invite Rita Marley and she gave her word she would come. Hopefully, she will be better before the festival.
Which other international artiste is coming?
We have an Afrobeat band coming from the U.S called Underground System. Somebody is coming from Morocco if he gets his visa. We may have artistes from South Africa but we are constrained by cash. Bringing all these people from other countries costs a lot of money. I spoke to K1 the Ultimate today, he would be playing. We can’t afford his fee.
Do Nigerian artistes play for free at the festival?
Most of them do. If we give them like N100,000, N50,000. It’s not what they command, so it’s free. They get more than that if they play at shows. They know we can’t afford them, so they don’t charge us. I saw Wizkid yesterday, he told me he would come for the show. I want to thank all of them for their support. Without them there will be no Felabration.
You also pay for flight, accommodation, food for international artistes. Doesn’t that cost you a lot of money?
It does but we are trying to minimize cost. They don’t charge us. We just have to bring them in. It takes a lot of money from us. The aim is to make Felabration an international brand. All I am doing is to make the festival an annual event so that when I am tired, the festival will continue without my involvement.
I look forward to the festival, I don’t look forward to the stress.
With all these financial commitment, where does the money come from?
We have the media support as well as other sponsors, Promasidor and Kasapreko. This year, Chelsea dry gin has backed out. They want to push Action Bitter but because of Kasapreko, they couldn’t. This year, we might go with Red Bull. Guinness might come on board too and 7Up. Every year, all these brands make a lot of money here. They make more than they put in because they sell their drinks a lot.
What monetary gains are there for organizing Felabration every year?
We spend more money than we make. I hope one day we will be able to say we made money, but right now we have not. Security alone costs us like N3 million every year because we are having over 250 security guards inside and outside. That is a lot of money.
What is the involvement of Lagos State Government?
Lagos State Government has been a huge and major supporter of Felabration. Recently, they bought a parking space for the Fela Museum, that is a plus.
What is the present situation of Fela Museum since it was opened last year. Is it fully operational now?
No, we are still looking for funds to complete facilities in the hotel. The bar is operating now and we have a car park.
– FOLUSO SAMUEL