Youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and leader of the Egypt 80 musical band, Seun Kuti sits with Chude Jideonwo, host of #WithChude to discuss turning 40, going to prison for the first time, his thought about Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Sunday Igboho, the altercation with P square, mob justice action for Mohbad, the allegation of abuse and grieving his mum’s passing in stages.
“I think it’s deliberate on the part of the media to project me out. It’s the same way they projected my dad, and people thought he wore pants all the time to perform. They kept showing him at one rehearsal at home, where he wore pants. But that was part of a documentary. People thought that was the truth, and they felt Fela was crazy”
“For example, I didn’t start smoking until I was 21 years old. I was in Liverpool, and that was when I knew that peer pressure is the biggest influence in the life of a growing human being. Watch your child’s friends, that’s the best gift you can give them. For the 20 years that I lived in Kalakuta Republic, everyone was smoking around me, and I never smoked. After just one year of living with my flat mate Alex, who was smoking all the time and was my agemate, he initiated me. At that time, they had started writing articles about how I was taking all kinds of drugs. I think it’s a way they project people in certain ways that society disregards. It’s a kind of alienation tactic,” Seun shared early into the conversation.
When asked why he didn’t support Peter Obi, who was said to give Nigerians change, Seun Kuti said, “It’s like when people tell me, why didn’t I align with Sunday Igboho when he was calling for Yoruba Nation? I said I’d seen this before, and I recognized that it was a lie. To say you want to be something, there are certain sacrifices and prices that must be paid for that thing to happen. You cannot skip that process and now tell someone like me to line up behind you. To whom much is given, much is expected. 60% of the people that were supporting Peter Obi in 2023 were insulting him while he was the governor of Anambra State. I was the one that went to drag out their old tweet because the internet never forgets. One of his biggest businesses is like a big supermarket where he sells imported stuff. He said he wanted to turn the country into an industrialized nation, but you’ve not even started manufacturing the goods you are selling in your store, and you are a billionaire. I believe you have the resources to make that happen. So, if you are not doing that in your own little way and you have that kind of resource, that’s the problem.”
On the online altercation between him and Peter Okoye, he said, “First of all, I grew up in the Kalakuta Republic, where there’s freedom of speech. When we begin to attack ourselves because somebody has expressed themselves and shared their opinion, just as they say, insult is the refuge of the ignorant. I gave my opinion fair and square about a political candidate vying for my vote. Meaning that by opening that door, he has opened himself to all of us for scrutiny. I said he was an opportunist. I like to see the work and give my honest opinion about the guy. He insulted my father and my mother, and I just got ready for him. He must have thought I was Ayo Makun, where they just shouted two times, and he left APC to LP straight. I said they are occupying the space, and that’s why we are becoming them. He is an ambassador for Hero beer. The attack job is part of the job description in our industry. I don’t regret responding to that, I’m built for that all day. I can be petty.”
Seun Kuti also addressed the pending case in court for slapping a police man. “Well, my case is in court, so I will not really delve deep into that issue, but I will say this, I don’t believe that protecting my family is a crime. An 8-second video doesn’t explain an incident that happened for about 15 minutes. What I learned is that anybody could be in that cell. From what I saw in that place, I knew anybody could be in that cell.” Responding to the story peddled that he prayed in the cell, he said, “I didn’t become a GO in the cell. I don’t pray. I meditate a lot with my ancestors and share my plans and ambitions. It’s just the continual onslaught of the Nigerian media against me that painted it as though I was praying.”
On the thoughts about the cyber mob attack against Naira Marley after Mohbad’s passing, and his silence, he said, “We must not seek injustice in the name of justice. A lot of people are saying Mohbad and I played in a show in Ikorodu, and they are saying, ‘Seun Kuti, why are you not speaking up?’ I didn’t see a need to speak up about something I didn’t know anything about. Do you mean just to speak up for the fun of it? I don’t do that. I don’t know what happened, and it’s a matter of life and death. But knowing what I know today and being who I am, I will not want to join the cybermob action in pointing an accusatory finger at somebody like that without evidence. Naira Marley always has case in court. Please leave the Marlians; let the Marlians breathe. It’s true he always has a case in court; he went do Soapy that time. I really hope that justice is served.”
Seun Kuti also shared about his great relationship with his dad and how he grieved his passing. “I grieved for my dad because he was the closest person to me, and he was the first person I know that died, so for me, it was a really impactful experience losing my dad; it was like losing my best friend, my dad, and a family member, all in one. I really grieved for a long time. I grieved my dad. The one I didn’t grieve for was my mom. I couldn’t. I had a tour. There was no time to breakdown. If I’m going to share some of my mental issues on this show, it’s like I think I’m grieving my mom in stages; kind of, I’ve not really had time to really delve into that, but the bad part is past, and I still grieve her from time to time. I don’t have complete closure for my mom like I do for my dad.”
Watch the excerpt here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cym_3vVN0RK/
#WithChude is a network of media products across TV, Film and podcasts telling stories that enable and strengthen the mind, the heart, and the spirit. The weekly interviews are widely syndicated across terrestrial television and social media platforms reaching an average of 8 million people weekly – positioning it as the most watched and most syndicated weekly talk show (digital + traditional) in the region. It has become a safe space for guests to talk about things publicly for the first time. Actor Joke Silva revealed that her husband Olu Jacobs was dealing with dementia with Lewy body for the first time on the show, and producer Kemi Afolabi opened up about her experience dealing with Lupus on #WithChude. That month, Lupus and Kemi Afolabi were among the top Google Nigeria searches. The interviews have been featured everywhere, from the BBC to the New York Times. The documentary and travelogue series #ChudeExplains has tackled issues from criminal justice reform to Gen Z coming of age.
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