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An Interview With Seun Kuti

An Interview With Seun Kuti

There are no human rights in Africa but there are animal rights in Europe and America. Famine, malaria, AIDS, and other diseases are killing Africans daily. You don't hear of anything at all from the developed world. It is like there is no continent called Africa. Yet when you hit a dog with a stone, in defending and protecting yourself from an attack, you will surely be jailed for that in Europe, because the dog has rights.

These are the words of Seun Kuti, who has stepped into his father's shoes to continue his musical message against corruption, injustice and the many problems affecting his country of Nigeria and the continent of Africa. Seun expressed his concerns about the situation in Africa when answering questions during a press conference in Boechout-Antwerpen before he went on stage.

"Our colonial masters were in Africa to do what ever they wanted to do. They taught the Africans many things but when they left they didn't teach Africans how to be governed by what my father called 'Democrazy'. Miltary governments have destroyed Africa to the extent that no remedy can be applied to save the continent", said Seun. He condemned the use of firearms and other weapons in solving political crises in Africa or any other part of the world.

Asked if there is any positive change in Nigeria and Africa generally today, despite the suffering, jailing and beating endured by his late father, musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Seun declared that "there hasn't been any positive change in Africa. It may be incompetency or corruption. For example, a police official in Nigeria is now in jail for corruption. This man has houses in almost every state in Nigeria and has amassed himself a fortune. If this had happened in Europe, an investigation would have taken place immediately. In Africa, it went undiscovered until he had a problem with the president. That is Africa."

Asked if he was easily accepted by the members of his father's band as a leader, Seun said most of the members of the band knew his father when he [Seun] was a child, and therefore he is a son to them and so they have accepted his leadership. In fact, thousands of Afro-beat fans, who never had the opportunity to see the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti play before he died, turned out on July 31st 2005 in Boechout-Antwerp (Belgium) to watch Seun and the band.

Seun is the youngest son of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the creator of Afro-beat. He was just eight years old when he first stepped on stage with his father. Femi Kuti, his older half-brother is also a musician with his own band. But Seun is the one many believe has taken on the responsiblity of continuing the uncompleted work of his father. He is at the moment the leader of his father's Egypt 80 band.

It's nice to see Seun performing. You may be amazed by his appeance: Is it Fela himself or the son on stage? But please don't get me wrong. That does not mean that Seun is impersonating his father, but rather the image and sprit of his father is strongly apparent in him. The resemblance is striking whether he is dancing, singing or playing the saxophone.

With Tony Allen on drums, the group gave the audience their money's worth, including an original song called "Mosquito", bearing the message that malaria is killing thousands of people daily in Africa. Something must be done about this issue as well as AIDS. Seun played only four tunes and left the stage. Angry fans showed their anger and frustration by throwing missiles and other objects on stage.

"Seun, we want you back", said a woman almost in tears.