“How I Missed Being A Ballet Dancer” …Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti





Yeni Kuti


Oluwayeni Anikulapo-Kuti is a famous singer and ‘abami eda’, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s eldest child. Born to a British mother, Yeni, who graduated from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, joined her brother, Femi’s band as a singer and dancer after dropping her job as a fashion designer. In this chanced interview, beautiful Yeni, who currently serves as co-manager at the New Afrika Shrine, speaks to the Editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT, on family life, Felabration, childhood dream and more. Read on…

Being Fela’s daughter, which doors have opened on your personal relations with people?.  

It opens some doors but not every door.  For example, getting sponsorship for Felabration is not as easy as one would think. When we were younger, a lot of people did not want to associate with us because of whom they thought we were.  The truth is that I have a very strong heritage of which I am extremely proud of.


What are the vivid memories of you and your dad that you can share with us?  

Too many memories; just too many, that I can’t start talking about now. You would have to create a special section that would read, ‘going down memory lane’ for me to talk about them (laughter).


You had a dream from childhood, what was that dream and what was the parents’ support for you then?  

My childhood dream was to be a ballet dancer.  My parents supported me but couldn’t afford to send me to ballet school.


What makes you smile and how do you make your loved ones smile?

My grandson makes me smile.  Anytime my daughter sends me a picture or video of him, I find myself smiling stupidly.  My loved ones know I am there for them 100%.


How would you advise parents who wouldn’t allow their daughters dance for a living?  

They should let their children live their dream. The parents have lived theirs. Kids have got their own lives to live.


Have you had the opportunity to dance at non-Afro Beats concerts for artistes from other genres; if yes, what was the experience like?  

Honestly, I haven’t had such an opportunity.


How long does it take you to prepare your costume for stage performance and do you have costumier who does that or you do it yourself?

I do it myself when on stage. For all of us, it takes us about two hours to get ready.


Tell us about the exciting relationship with your siblings.

We are one and united family. We are close and very friendly.


How do you love to plan your birthday every year?  

I have to be honest; I don’t plan for birthdays (laughter). So, I try to run away from town on my birthday.


What lessons has life taught you?  

Life has taught me to be sincere and honest to myself.  Don’t live your life for anybody.  Every disappointment is an experience, I don’t have time for regret. Dust yourself up and move on.  Regretting your action doesn’t change anything.


Tell us about your beauty routine.  

There is nothing too special about it. I just apply creams on my face to trick old age.  I sleep well and I laugh a lot.


Apart from your father, who and what else motivate your lifestyle?

My mother.


What is that funny experience you had as a growing lady that you haven’t shared yet?  

(Laughs) Haaa! I can’t tell everything. Some other time, I will open up on some of them.


Fans speak about your stage presence, the captivating dance steps, even at 56; what’s the magic and any plan to stop dancing soon?  

When my body can’t move anymore, I won’t dance on stage anymore. But I would still be holding workshops. I was in Australia recently for a series of workshops and I still choreograph the positive force dancers.


Share your candid opinion on the entertainment industry in Nigeria.  

My worry is that, many young people think the industry is a way to get rich quick.  They see the rich ones and they all want to ‘blow’, forgetting that the rich and successful ones have worked hard to get to where they are.  They also are not ready to learn how to play instruments.  Having said that, I love the fact that some of these young artistes have taken Nigerian music to the global level.