Oluseun Anikulapo-Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Anikulapo-Kuit. Seun leads his father’s band, the ‘Egypt 80’ to date. In this interview he speaks on his music and lifestyle, amongst other issues.
You were 14 when Fela died, what do you miss most about him?
Well, Fela was my father. You know, it’s a long time now since he died. The most important thing to me now is his presence. I miss him being around. I think of what would happen if I were able to have a discussion with him today. Knowing everything I know now, those are the kind of things you miss. I just miss him being around.
Can you describe what God means to you?
I do not believe in God. I am not a believer of anything supernatural. I don’t believe in God, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Ifa, Ogun, or whatever anybody uses as a reason to explain simple actions of nature. God, to me, is in existence.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Ha (smiles)! My most embarrassing moment happened when I was nine. And nothing up till now has topped that. You know, I used to open the show for my father and I used to sing before he comes on stage. We were in Cincinnati and Fela was about to come on stage, and I had gone up somewhere because we played in this huge dome where there was an archaic session.
I was playing archaic, and I forgot about the show. I got carried away. And when it was five minutes to go… rushing back to the stage, I dressed up quickly. So, my sister helped me with my pants, I was wearing all this traditional pants that you will have to tie. So, I was like, Mosun, you did not tie it. And as soon as I got on stage, my pants just got down…
What is the amusing fact about your life that people will be surprised to know?
Well, I think I tried to keep everything as open as possible. But maybe, people would not know that if I had the opportunity, if it wasn’t for music, I would have been playing football. Not the American football, I mean real soccer.
What major goal do you hope to achieve in the next 20 years?
I do not plan that long. It is impossible for anybody to have that great plan. Looking at 20 years in a globalised world, anything can happen beyond your control. So, I think the way to deal with globalized world is to have concrete short- term plan.
Which is your favourite Fela’s song and why?
I like two: Look and Laugh and Original Suffer Head. You know, it’s just the dynamics of the music. I think in Look and Laugh, Fela actually put the definition of arrangement and melody together.
What is it like heading Fela’s ‘Egypt 80’ band?
For me, it’s very easy. The band is a very experienced band. It’s not as if they are novice, and they helped me as well. The veterans in the band make it a tradition to train the young ones and let them to be acquainted to the music. We are large in number, which makes it quite expensive to manage. But in terms of organisation and discipline, we are good.
Do you smoke?
Yes, I do. But I don’t smoke cigarette... I don’t believe any human being has the right to tell nature what to do. Nature believes in the usefulness of marijuana. And I think mankind is pompous. You don’t say earthquake or Tsunami is illegal. So, why should marijuana, an equally natural thing, be illegal, even when earthquakes and Tsunami are killing people.
When are you hoping on getting married?
I don’t believe in the title of ‘Mister’. The word itself is ‘Miss Your Star’. It doesn’t relate well with me. People forget to understand that the term ‘mister’ is an English term for an English gentleman, and I do not see myself as an English gentleman. When it happens, it happens.
You spent sometime in the Western world, what do you think about the African culture and tradition?
African culture and tradition are quickly getting extinct. Our society does not encourage us to embrace our culture. All cultures are centered on religion. So, the propaganda that African religion is only used for evil purposes while the Western religion is used for good purposes has totally destroyed our society.