Femi Kuti Speaks Fondly Of His Ex-Wife In A New Interview

Afrobeat singer,Femi Kuti, in a rare interview with Sunday Sun, has opened up about his crashed marriage to his ex-wife, Funke. Femi went down memory lane recounting his experiences before, during and after his marriage to Funke. I enjoyed reading this interview, Femi seems very mature. Read excerpts below:

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Because of Made, maybe you and Funke see to talk about common  things but we are shocked to see her sitting next to you at ‘Femi  Segun’s burial?

She is the mother of my child and we are very friendly, we even call  each other. At least, what I manage to do is not to let the breakup  affect Made first of all, and our relationship. Human beings must fight. There must be misunderstanding sometimes. It is now left to us if we  are matured enough to overcome these problems. To some people, breakup  is so bitter that they end up hating each other. I manage to take my  hatred and throw it away, and still respect her as a human being and the mother of my son, and most importantly for the love of my son who needs his mother.If she too understands that he needs his father then we  must get rid of our misunderstanding. He was the one at the church who  said ‘please sit beside my mother’; I had to oblige him. I could have  refused because I went with my girlfriend, so I told my girlfriend not  to be annoyed and she understood.
Does it mean you and Funke may come back as husband and wife?

I doubt it. But you never know. You never know what God has in plan  for you. What if you say never and something just happens? If they told  me she would leave my house one day, I would have said it is impossible. So, if she comes back one day, you never know what can happen. One  sickness can hook you down and she might be the person by your bedside,  what would happen? I don’t pray for it but you never know what God has  in plan for you. So, I am not the one that tempts fate. Right now, I am  content, I am happy, we are friendly and my children are also happy.
Tell me your greatest memory of Funke?

Are you trying to bring us back because this question is mischievous  (laughs). There are many great memories of her. I can’t say one or two  because it is not possible to throw 10 years away. There are great, good and bad memories. All are memories.
How did you meet Funke?

I met her at a restaurant where I was playing jazz, at a place called  ‘44’ in Ikoyi. She came with my cousin, Funmi Ransome-Kuti, they were  in UNILAG together. She was so beautiful and she was looking at me, so I knew she likes me. So, I told my cousin to introduce me to her. That’s  how we met.
How did you eventually propose to her?

I didn’t propose; one day, I just told her that ‘from today, we are  boyfriend and girlfriend’. She said, ‘ha ha, what kind of love is this?’  I said, ‘when we have been calling ourselves everyday, are we  misleading ourselves? And it was on a Christmas Eve. I said to her ‘from today you are my girlfriend, if you have a boyfriend, get rid of him  now because I must not see him when I get to your house’ and she  laughed. That was how we started.
I am sure you don’t want to pull that off your mind so soon?

It is off. Like I said, I have a new life. I am staying with two of  the mothers of my children; we all stay in the same house. I have a very good family. They are content, but they respect Funke. If Funke comes,  they will excuse us. They are very respectful of her. Don’t forget we  are in Africa; this is the way we grew up, so if she comes around they  give her the respect. If I go to the church and she is there, if I say  ‘please I have to sit with her’, they will accord her the respect. And I am sure she has her life. Can we ever get together? I can never say no, because something can happen that may be for good or bad and we’ll be  together again.
Never say never! If you ask if I am happy right now, I am very happy  not just with my relationship, I am also very happy with my children who are progressing, which is really my priority. At 52, I have experienced a lot. If I die today, I cannot complain in heaven that I did not enjoy my life. My biggest challenge is to ensure my children have a good  life. I want the children to grow up very stable and that requires a lot of sacrifice on my part. I cannot use my selfish, jealous or whatever  interest to disrupt their future, which is the same attitude I have with Made. He is doing very well. He is playing piano well. And probably if I use his mother’s problem as an obstacle in his life, it might just be  worrying him. And you never know why children have psychological  problems, but it is the parents’ duty to always protect their children. ‘Nobody send us message; we slept with each other, we born pikin, you now want to give the pikin problem.’  I don’t indulge in that. Since there is a child involved, I try my best to keep my reservations to myself by just facing the truth.

You don’t believe in monogamy?

Yes. I grew up in a polygamous home. I grew up wanting to be like my  father. I grew up wanting to have many women; that was my training. I  will not tell you it is right or wrong. You see my son, he believes in  monogamy. He has one girlfriend that he has been following for many  years, and they want to get married. I don’t pray for them to breakup.  If they want to even get married in the church, I will not stop him.  Whatever he wants to do I will not use my own life to rule, direct or  control my children. They must have the liberty to choose because if  they fail or succeed, they have to understand it is their life. I can  always be a good father. I will have to teach them how to take good  decisions because I love them.
I am not going to discourage my son by saying ‘what if she breaks  your heart, so get ready for heartbreak’, because I don’t pray for it. I can only support him. If he is successful and even if he breaks up with this girl, he might still go for another person. But for whatever  reason, this is the life he has chosen for himself and I love it that he is happy. Because of the way I was brought up, there is no way I can be faithful to a woman. I will not even try it. I wasn’t trained to do so. I didn’t grow up with that attitude. I grew up in the real house of  Kalakuta where there were women and I loved it. So, I wanted the same  thing for myself. Now, I don’t have the life of Kalakuta but I know that I can’t leave that dream and say I want to be faithful to one woman. I  will rather be by myself; truth, I love my freedom. I don’t love the  part that I owe anybody anything. Even the people with me know that I  love my freedom. I like to sleep when I want to sleep, if I want to go  out I love to enter my car and go on my own; I love my independence. I  was brought up with total independence.
Did you give Funke a ring, that ‘with this I thee wed’? 

No, she bought the ring.

And you put it in her finger?

Yes, in the registry.

That makes you a monogamist so you cannot marry another wife under the Nigerian law?

I am not a monogamist because we are divorced.
It looks like you sacrificed all when Funke was with you?

No, I didn’t. When we got married she was pregnant and I knew it was a boy. I didn’t know how I knew but I just knew. I told her ‘we will get  married, but I will never be faithful to you’. She knew one of my  dancers then was my girlfriend. I have been dating her long before I met Funke.. Funke’s mother and I are not good friends. When she (Funke’s  mother) came back into her life, we started having problems. I don’t  know if that is part of the problem or if it is Funke who is bored with  the marriage or her friends were talking to her, whatever the reason, I  tried my best to bring her back. I tried to even change my ways. Many  things went on, those that are close to me know that I went out of my  way, when I saw that I was wasting too much energy, I had to relax.  Funke and I didn’t talk for a long time. It took us years to understand  that there is a son in our midst. I didn’t want to open the can of worms because we have settled all these. It is something that we have left  behind. I have forgiven her and I will not tell you that I was totally  right, but was I sincere in my marriage? Yes be rest assured that I was. I wasn’t doing anything that she wasn’t warned of before. That I won’t  have girlfriends? She knew that I was a very humble polygamist. I tried  to be as discreet as possible but you know the more you are getting  popular, the more people are taking your tales to your wife. She might  find condoms in my car that I forgot to hide very well, who knows?
Why then did people blame your sister, Yeni, all this while…?

I will never reveal to you why our marriage broke up, but YK (Yeni)  definitely was never part of it. YK and I even fought because she  advised Funke to take Made along with her, and I said if she takes Made I am in trouble, because I love made and I want him to be with me. All my life was circled around Made, so if Funke had gone with Made maybe I  would have committed suicide, because everything in my life in that  marriage was based on Made. I saw Made as my inheritor; I saw him as the next Anikulapo to take the music to another level. So, my investment  emotionally, financially, everything was stationed on Made. If Funke had left with Made, I didn’t have another child, and a politician had  already threatened me that what if Made dies? So, I thought that was a  threat from the government saying they will kill Made. I was very  protective of Made, which was another reason I decided to have other  children. What if I lose Made? What will I do? If you check the  Anikulapo and Ransome-Kuti families, there are not many boys; everybody  is just having girls. So, the only inheritor of the Kuti dynasty was  Made. My cousin in America had a girl, Yeni had a girl, others also had  girls, and Made was the only boy. I thought of protecting him or else  the Anikulapo-Kuti clan will die. Seun also had a girl; the only person  that recently had two boys was Kunle. He just had his own boys when Made was already a teenager.
He also opened up about his half brother in Australia…

We heard your father had a son in the US? 

He didn’t have a son in the US; it is in Australia.
Have you met him?

Yes.
What is his name?

Couney.
How did he meet you?

I went to play in Sydney and he came to meet me there. That was about four or five years ago.
Did Fela ever tell you about him or how did you know?

Fela told us about one woman that probably got pregnant for him. She  told Fela she was pregnant but she disappeared with the pregnancy. Fela  now came and told us the story. He (Couney) met my sister on Facebook  and told her the same story. And he traced his mother because his mother put him up for adoption, so when he met his mother, she then told him  that his father was Fela.
How old is he?

I am a year older than him.

So, he is part of the inheritors of Fela?

Yes, but he doesn’t want to be known. He doesn’t want anything, he just wants to meet us, and case closed.
He answers Kuti too?

Yes.
Are you not inviting him to Nigeria for a visit?

He will make his decision. He doesn’t want much publicity. It was his son who wants to know the family. He has met us, if he wants to go the  extra mile that is his business.
What does he do, is he into music?

He is into drawing. I don’t know much about him. We talk once in a  year. I went to Australia early this month and my sister told him I was  there, but he didn’t come to meet me because he was busy. Don’t forget  that 50 years of our lives have passed, where do we want to start the  friendship. He is a very nice person. He is probably a Fela’s son, we  cannot say for sure except there is a DNA to prove it. And to do that,  would you have to bring Fela from the grave? But from my perception he  looks like Fela.

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Nchee is an author on Gist Us.
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