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Ola Balogun, Yeni Kuti at loggerheads over Fela seminar

Veteran filmmaker and scriptwriter, Ola Balogun, has said he plans to organise a seminar in honour of the late iconic Afrobeat originator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, but his efforts are being frustrated.

According to Balogun, he had reached out to Fela’s daughter, Yeni, about the seminar but she was not forthcoming. He told our correspondent that he called Yeni several times and sent her many messages but she did not give him a favourable response. In a message he sent to Saturday Beats, he lambasted Yeni, saying he did not need her permission before organising the seminar. The message read in part, “Yeni, are you serious? I don’t need your approval or collaboration to organise a seminar on my dear friend Fela. You were not born when Fela and I became friends, so what are you up to? You and your incompetent committee have made a complete mess of Felabration, so how do you want me to become involved with your antics? Out of curiosity, I watched the 2015 edition of the so-called Felabration and I almost succumbed to a series of heart attacks…in conclusion, please permit me to ask what your profession has been since you retired from being a dancer in your brother Femi’s band? The reason I ask is that you told me so many times that you couldn’t take my call because you were busy driving that I was forced to begin wondering if you have    now become an Uber driver.”

However, in an exclusive interview with Saturday Beat, Yeni maintained that she did not have any issues with the filmmaker. “He called me and said he wanted to do a seminar about Fela. I then told him that he needed to speak with our lawyers but he said he did not want to and would prefer to speak with me. So, I listened very attentively and he spent over one hour on the phone. We continued speaking for some days and on the last day, he said we (Fela’s family) would pay him to do the documentary. I simply said ‘okay’ and let the matter be. However, he called me some days later and I told him I was driving. The next time he called me was at midnight and I was sleeping. He also called me later but I was attending meetings and couldn’t pick the phone. He then sent me a text message, abusing me. He threatened to send street urchins to beat me up. However, I did not reply because he is older than me and I respect him. He  sent messages to my partner and many other people and I have been receiving calls on the issue. At that point, I had to block all his numbers. If he wants to do a seminar on Fela, he can go ahead but where I disagree is him saying we have to pay him. There have been different programmes on Fela and we were not asked to pay for them.”

PUNCH

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