April 15, 2024
3 Min. Read

"ZANZIBAR IS SO SUBLIME"

The son of Femi Kuti and grandson of Fela Kuti headlined one of the best Busara festivals ever

By Andrea Tapper 

He flew into Zanzibar, capturing the hearts of music fans from all over. Afrobeat musician Mádé Kuti, 28, and his wife Inedoye, 25, made time for an exclusive interview with THE FUMBA TIMES before diving into their honeymoon on the island.

The sound check at the Old Fort was done when we settled into a climatised quiet lounge at the Serena Hotel in Stone Town. The performance at Zanzibar’s Busara Festival was one of the first big international solo shows of Mádé Kuti and his 12-piece band, The Movement. The young heir of the Kuti dynasty plays eight instruments. Both looking splendid, Mádé and his newly-wed wife Inedoye (Nigerian for “my desire”) were ready to discuss “everything”.  At the same time easy-going and reflective, charismatic and humble,  the musician talked frankly for over an hour.

On Zanzibar:

“I was very impressed by the island from the beginning. The airport looks better than some in Nigeria. When we landed, everything  was quiet, peaceful, natural and so sublime. Everything here just screams holiday! 

We came to perform at Sauti za Busara festival and to spend a four-day-honeymoon at Kizikula resort. I promised my wife to leave my hands off my instruments and composing.”

On “Andco”: 

“Wondering what “Andco” is? Just look at our photos. It’s a Nigerian expression for partnerlook, man and woman dressing up in the same prints or at least the same colours. Easy to spot us as a couple then!”

On life in Lagos:

“It has completely changed since the 70s. My grandfather was an outcast, a rebel, always in the headlines and negatively portrayed by the state media. A lot of it was misinterpretation. He was arrested, his first commune “The Shrine” burnt down by the military, in the course of which his mother died. It was a ghastly time; ordinary people feared to come to the Shrine. 2012 it was converted into the “Kalakuta Republic Museum”, named after the free state Fela had founded in protest. My father Femi opened the “New Africa Shrine” in Lagos where we used to live in a penthouse. Some of the family still lives a communal life today. The new shrine has a restaurant, a concert hall, a video space. Lots of tourists visit it. The Kutis have finally become respectable. As much as we are still controversial, the authorities don’t mess with us any more. Our international recognition protects us. We pay our taxes.” 

On politics:

“Of course I am interested in politics. How could it be otherwise coming from the Kuti family! But I am not a political activist in the sense my grandfather was. Even my father Femi, now 61 years old, is a much more quiet and civil person than Fela ever was and not as flamboyant as him. He is Fela Kuti’s oldest son and like my uncle Seun, 41, who is Fela Kuti’s youngest son, a well-known performer. My father taught me to be self-critical, to look within. I am a softer Kuti - but my music is still aggressive!” 

On family: 

“Other than what people think, my grandfather had many wives - not sure if 27 or 28 – but only a few kids, exactly seven. I know the whole extended family, of course. We are 13 grandchildren. I was two years old when my grandfather died. I don’t remember him but I know many stories about him. If you ask me if I’d want several wives like him, I definitely say no. Why? I have witnessed where it leads to - a lot of quarrelling! I want a nuclear family with maximum three children. I’d want to take my family to the movies without having to charter a bus!”

On music: 

“Afrobeat is still my music. It’s wild and loud and beautiful. I would like to establish it even more as a classical genre. I studied from 2011-2018 at the same conservatoire, the Trinity Laban in London, as my grandfather did. When you ask me for my musical idols, spontaneously I’d say Chopin and the Arctic Monkeys, classic and new. I’ve been on stage with my father since I was a kid, playing famous gigs in Europe and the US. My biggest wish is a reunion tour with my father Femi, my uncle Seun and myself.”

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