Author: Chris Omozokpia
THE family of Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Thursday, stoutly denied
media reports that the great musician was dead. The media was awash, Thursday,
with reports of the possibility that the 59-year old Afrobeat proponent
may have died after a protracted illness.
But addressing a throng of anxious reporters, who besieged Fela's Gbemisola
Street, Ikeja residence in Lagos, the musician's elder brother and former
Health Minister, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, said that Fela was alive
and recovering in an undisclosed clinic in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he
was carried to at the early hours of Tuesday.
Ransome-Kuti, who flew in from his United States base to supervise the treatment
of his brother, said: "Fela is well and alive. He is responding to
treatment." Although he would not disclose the location of the hospital
and the precise cause of the illness and present state of health of the
music legend, he explained that the action was deliberate to prevent the
surging newsmen from choking the Afro beat King to death.
Speaking to newsmen beside his navy blue Volkswagen Golf car, Prof. Ransome-Kuti
said jokingly: "I'm not Fela and you are rushing me like this. You
won't even allow me to enter my car. What if it was Fela, what will happen?
Fela is recovering in a clinic. We can't tell you where he is so you won't
disturb him. Let him recover in peace."
The professor had just come down from a three-hour family meeting which
began at about 10.30 a.m. It was held in the musician's inner room in which
the re-organisation of the Kalakuta Republic, Fela's house, was the top
item on the agenda.
Present at the meeting, besides Prof. Ransome-Kuti, were Dolu, Fela's elder
sister, Femi (who had earlier packed his musical instruments to the shrine
in preparation for an evening rehearsal for the coming Unity Concert to
be held on Friday) and Yeni, his children, among others. According to reliable
sources at the meeting, the issue of disbanding the "republic"
and sending the many wives, miscreants and sundry dependents, packing from
Kalakuta was paramount on the list.
It was hotly debated with Femi, Yeni and Dolu standing their ground on sending
the occupants out of the house. "Femi, Aunty Dolu and Yeni insisted
on sending the women out of the house, but the Prof. was very soft on the
issue, while the issue of who will be running Kalakuta caused a major crisis
as Femi insisted that he will run the place because he said he knows the
place well. He told Prof. that he (Femi) is the one on the ground, the thing
nearly cause problem."
"Then Prof. called Femi to a corner and whispered something in his
ear. Femi laughed and they returned to the meeting. That was when they drove
us out of the place to come down," revealed our source.
After the meeting, Femi accompanied Prof. Ransome-Kuti to his car and they
exchanged pleasantries. On his way back to the house, he was nearly mobbed
by pressmen scrambling to hear from him what was happening to Fela, to which
he screamed "Fela no die O, Fela is well and alive... we can't tell
you where he is, so that you will not go and rush him the way you are rushing
us like this." Wives of the legend and his many dependants are dismayed
by the attitude of Nigerians towards the state of health of their leader
whom they all adore and worship almost as a god.
"Queen" Adejuwon, Fela's wife of 24 years, who is easily the most
trusted of the king's 27 wives, said: "Look at me, I cannot marry anyone
else again. Fela is my only man. The only one I ever loved. He is the nicest
man to ever live. And they say he is dead when he is actually alive. Fela
Adejuwon joined Fela in 1974 at the age of 16. And ever since, she has been
one of his very few loyal wives and devotees. According to our source, "she
is the only one who Fela allows to cook his food and take care of him."
Even while the family meeting was on, the family members were looking for
her to contribute to the proceedings of the meeting.
However, our reliable source said it is safer to conclude that the legend
is, technically, dead. This leads one to come up with certain deductions
on this matter.
That the family of Fela may be concealing or delaying as it were, the news
of this "technical death to give the family enough time to clean up
Fela's republic" and tidy up the residence for Femi, the heir apparent,
to take over and give a fresh break of life.
That the family is moving the property of the Afrobeat king out of Kalatuta
Republic and contemplating sending his wives and dependants out of the house
lends to a large extent, some air of truism to this rumour. The delay or
denial of the rumour, according to our source, is designed to calm things
down "so that some people with bad minds will not come in the night
to clear Fela's house" and furthermore, give Fela's family time to
plan for the future of the musician's family and children.