Today, Yeni Anikulapo Kuti, a remarkable dancer, businesswoman, media personality, and the first child of Afrobeat Legend Fela Kuti, celebrates her 62nd birthday. Yeni has made a significant impact in coordinating her blended family, preserving her father’s musical legacy, and advocating for the recognition of dance as a profession in Nigeria.
Yeni Anikulapo Kuti’s journey as a dancer began at a time when the profession faced significant societal stigma. Despite this, she fearlessly pursued her passion for dance, performing alongside her family members in her father’s band and later joining her brother’s band, Positive Force. Yeni’s dedication and perseverance helped pave the way for dance to be recognized as a legitimate profession in Nigeria. Although she no longer performs professionally, her impact as a forerunner and flagbearer of dance in Nigeria remains undeniable.
As the eldest child of Fela Kuti, Yeni carries the weight of her family’s generational legacy. Her family members are renowned not only for their contributions to music but also for their activism. Yeni’s grandmother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a pioneering women’s suffrage activist in Nigeria. Yeni’s upbringing and exposure to her father’s leadership within his commune and band instilled in her a sense of responsibility and leadership.
Yeni Anikulapo Kuti has been instrumental in uniting her family and preserving her father’s musical legacy. Following Fela’s passing in 1997, she took on the task of organizing the annual week-long music festival, Felabration, to honor her father’s music and influence. Yeni’s efforts have helped keep Fela’s legacy alive, inspiring generations of music lovers and activists worldwide.
Yeni Anikulapo Kuti believes in the power of tolerance and respect for different religious beliefs. As a free thinker and believer in African religion, she encourages open-mindedness and understanding among people of different faiths. Yeni also advocates for improved healthcare delivery in Nigeria, drawing from her personal experiences and emphasizing the need for change in the country’s healthcare system.
Having witnessed Nigeria’s transformation over the years, Yeni expresses concern about the current state of the country. She reflects on the challenges faced by successive governments and urges leaders to take responsibility for their actions. Yeni highlights the need for change and a collective effort to address the issues plaguing Nigeria.
Turning 62 is a significant milestone for Yeni Anikulapo Kuti, and she approaches this new phase of life with excitement. Although she feels the physical effects of aging, Yeni maintains her youthful spirit and continues to celebrate life’s joys. Though it is unclear if she contemplates a ‘high-key’ or a ‘low-key’ celebration for her 62nd birthday, Yeni’s life will continue to be a celebration of beauty, resilence, impact, family, and a legacy kept together with compassionate love and sheer determination.