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 can't die.

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.