Award winning Femi Kuti, first son of legendary Afro beat pioneer Fela Kuti, who has no doubt carved a niche for himself in the entertainment industry, has said that he is not a Nigerian but an African because the music he plays is more welcomed and accepted in other black nations and nations where Afrobeat is played and enjoyed than Nigeria.
In this encounter with Esther Onyegbula, he talks about the lack of structures in the Nigeria entertainment industry, and shares his opinion on the Centenary celebration of the Nigerian nation.
In Nigeria, afrobeat music is gradually dying as young Nigerian artistes are not inclined to singing afro beat, what are you doing to address this situation?
Afro beat can never die, maybe in Nigeria, but in America, there are over forty to fifty bands; in New York alone there are over 20 bands; it exists in Japan, Australia, San Francisco and other parts of the world. So when you think that afro beat is dying in Nigeria, in other parts of the world, it is becoming bigger and more popular.
But it did not originate from those parts of the world?
It does not matter where it originated from, we are all from the same planet, and I am not going to get caught in the foolishness of being a Nigerian. I am not a Nigerian, I am an African. When you understand the history of Nigeria, Nigeria is a colonial structure set in motion by Lady Lugard. So Nigeria is not our name. When you understand the history of Africa, then you will not be foolish to fall into the category of calling yourself a Nigerian. I am an African, because you understand that Africa was divided 1885. When you look at it from that perspective, you will understand that people appreciate the talents that come out from this part of the world. If young Nigerian artistes are not playing afro beat and Americans are playing afro beat, then we need to ask ourselves the question why? Do you know what it takes to compose an afro beat number? Nigerian artiste won’t play afro beat because it is too difficult to play. The foundation of afro beat is based on emancipation of Africa, fighting against corruption and injustice; this is the uniqueness of afro beat, the truthfulness in the music, like what Bob Marley did with reggae. The difference is that Afro beat is deeper than reggae. So the die hard Fela fan want to see a replica of that. So for you to come out of that stereotype criticism, you will go through hell. I went through hell. Breaking out of my father nest was not easy. So I don’t expect, even for my son to break out of his grand father or my nest, he is going to do something extra ordinary. But then you will look at it from the critical point that shows the uniqueness of the music and you have to be so talented and gifted.