SeunKuti, Afrobeat musician and son of the legendary FelaAnikulapoKuti, recently back from a seven-month tour, is a man of many parts. In this interview with JOE AGBRO JR., he speaks about his music, how fatherhood has mellowed him down, Nigerian politics, and why Africans should take another look at marijuana. Excerpts
How was the experience for you? Any milestone?
It was a very musical experience. I think that’s the best way to put it because we were playing three, four nights a week for about seven months. And it was interesting you know, we had a lot of milestones if you put it that way. But I don’t know how to classify that. To me, we did a really good tour. And a hugely successful one at that, being able to play so many shows. There was nowhere I went to that was a first. But they showed us good acceptance and love everywhere we went to.
I think during the tour, another high point for me was when we were chosen in France as one of the 50 acts to change the world at a big event at the French Opera House in Paris. It was a good night.
How has the experience of fatherhood been like?
Well, you know, with children comes real selfless service. Having something that is your responsibility and the unconditional love as well as the bond that is shared between you and your offspring is something that I believe is an experience that elevates someone’s consciousness. So, for me, it’s been a really good adventure so far. She’s becoming a little devil now, but you know…
But has being a father toned you down?
Me, I think I’ve always been toned down. I don’t think there is anything about me that is too loud. Maybe, my daughter has made me more responsible with money sha. Because before I spend my money now, I always think that I have to do something for Adi, leave something for Adi. Other than that, I don’t think there’s anything I had to tone down in my own personal lifestyle because I’ve been quite responsible all along. There’s nothing to really say I want to change.
In some quarters, some people feel that you’re very controversial and you insult national leaders.
I’ve never insulted anybody in my life. If saying the truth about Nigeria is an insult to anybody, then so be it. And it’s only in Nigeria that I know that people that speak the truth are controversial. In America, it is the leader of the Ku Klux Klan that is controversial, the leader of the Tea Party, people that are a bit right-wing or extreme left-wing, people that are part of politics those are the people that are called controversial. The worst anybody can call me is a social critic. And at best, I’m an activist. I don’t see how controversial comes into me, except in Nigeria because Nigeria is very controversial. That’s why the truth has to be controversial.
You recently came out and said you were misrepresented in some quarters of the media concerning the major presidential candidates. What are your views about the coming elections? Are you going to vote? Do you have your PVC?
No, I don’t have my PVC because I decided already long time ago, even before the candidates were chosen, that the election is the politician’s elections still. I’m not going to vote. And I’ve been proven correct. I’m happy that so many people in Nigeria today want to be involved in the democratic process of this country. It is a big development in our democratic development.
And so many people want to also cast protest votes this year protest against how the country has been run by the present administration and I understand. And I support it as well. But the truth about it is that I believe that I am very politically mature. And for me to cast my vote, whoever I vote for has to represent my aspirations. I won’t just cast a protest vote in as much as a protest vote is needed in this forthcoming election. The candidate that is brought forward as well is someone that I believe is not in the good books of the Kuti family. And my family, we’re very united in our views about civic responsibility and human rights.
And retired General Buhari has trampled on the rights of my family when he jailed my father, illegally for that matter. And Fela was innocent. This is why it would be difficult for me to say I want to vote for Buhari. Maybe if Buhari wins and becomes president, then I can forgive him if he begins to do to Nigerians what Fela would have liked for Nigerians because maybe if Buhari becomes president and he suddenly becomes pro-people, developing Nigeria from the ground-up, things that I know would have made my father happy, and he is bring Nigeria up yeah. Definitely, I would understand that even if Fela were alive and Fela sees Nigeria going forward like this, he would speak in favour of the man. But so far, I can’t betray my father based on some promises and some words. So, that is why I’m not voting for him. But at the same time, what I didn’t like about the article was that I also said the reason why people should also not vote for Jonathan. And I also said to them that the fact that Buhari is seen as a messiah today in Nigeria is the biggest indictment of the Jonathan administration. Even Yar’Adua beat him (Buhari) in 2007.