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I wanted to be alive to see my daughter graduate, hence, I had to stop smoking –Yeni Kuti

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At 52, Yeni Kuti, daughter and first child of the late Afro beat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is full of life. She still loves to dance and can wriggle her waist like she used to do at 27 when she started dancing professionally with the band. The mother of one, whose marriage crashed some years ago was at home in her New African Shrine office. She discloses to Adaeze Amos in this interview that she never at anytime contemplated getting married again. She unveils her lifestyle, fashion sense, how she quit smoking and the challenges of managing Africa Shrine.

At 52, you still look strong and dashing, what is the secret?

I think the first secret behind my looks is to be happy. Try your best to smile or even laugh no matter what you are confronted with. That is what I do. I try as much as possible to laugh a lot. Then apart from laughing, I try to watch what I eat because even if I start laughing from now till eternity without a good diet, I may not get a good result. But I must be honest with you, some months back, I wasn’t eating healthy. I was eating everything I see. But now, I have reduced that. I don’t eat much of junk these days but if I’m very hungry and junk food is what I see, I eat but I don’t eat much of that. Another thing that helps me to keep fit is that I love to dance. Oh yes, I still dance a lot. While doing my dance class I burn excess fat in the process. I dance three times in a week – twice with the band and once for my dance class where I teach people how to dance Afro beat. Finally, I don’t take my dinner anything beyond 7 p.m.

Besides these, do you still drink and smoke?

I don’t drink beer or brandy but I can take alcoholic wine, especially Champaign. I drank a lot last night at the party of my good friend who clocked 50. I take soft drinks once in a while unlike before when I used to have it with every meal. I do a TV show every Thursday so I have to wake up at 4.30 a.m. on Thursdays to go for it because it is a life show. For that, I have curbed my alcohol intake a lot. I may take it once or twice in a week. As for smoking, I don’t smoke anymore. I must tell you it was very difficult to stop. I tried for several years to quit but all to no avail. I wouldn’t smoke for, like two or three weeks, and then I would start all over again. Smoking, honestly, is a very difficult habit to stop. What really gingered me to stop was when my daughter was entering university and I thought it over and said to myself, if I continue this my smoking habit and I die in the process before she graduates, how would she graduate? Who would pay her fees? It is only me she has. That was enough inspiration for me not to smoke because I wanted to be alive to see my daughter graduate.

How about your daughter, has she ever smoked?

No, she doesn’t smoke. She has never smoked before and I thank God for that. One thing about me when I was smoking was that I tried not to smoke in front of my daughter. She knew I smoked but I never lit a stick before her. I tried to keep that life away from her. That wasn’t a role model she would have followed because she wasn’t seeing me smoke. I don’t agree with one smoking in a room where there are kids or children.

When you clocked 50 two years ago, did you nurse the fear that you were getting old?

Of course, every woman nurses such fears. I felt that way. When I was much younger, I used to see anybody who clocked 50 as an ancient person. Funny enough, our kids too see us as such. My daughter, my nephews would say right in my face that I’m old but I would hush them. You need to see how I shout at them to shut up! One thing about hitting 50 is that you suddenly realise that you have spent more years on this planet Earth than you have left to live. When you hit 50, you begin to look at your achievements. 50 is a reality check, which is what made me happy that I have a good business. I may not be rich like that but at least I can eat and pay salaries. I’m happy for who I am. I have not realised all my dreams but at least I’m a happy person.

How was growing up?

While growing up, I had friends in school. A lot of parents did not like their children mixing up with us because we were Fela’s children. But then, such reactions were mixed because there were also parents who liked us and some that didn’t like us because of who we were. I don’t dwell on that anymore because that is past and it is gone. Maybe they thought that being Fela’s children we would be lighting up and smoking one big ‘Igbo’ (hemp). But honestly, that wasn’t the case with us then. They were very negative-minded. I felt bad about that. I don’t think you should judge a person without giving them the chance to know who she or he is; you just judge by maybe what the parent is doing or was doing. I think that is wrong. If someone’s father is an armed robber, would you say his son or daughter is an armed robber too. My father was a musician and when you look at some of the richest, young people today, they are musicians. Now, a lot of parents want their children to start singing hip-hop and make money for them.

How about guys then, were they relating with you? Did some of them woo you?

Guys didn’t have negative impression of me. The toasters were game. It is only their parents that didn’t just like me. They didn’t want their sons to go out or date Fela’s child. There were times they walked me away when I came visiting. There was a particular woman who seriously warned me never to come to her house to visit her son who was my boyfriend then. She was actually very nasty about my coming to see her son, I mean very nasty, she didn’t hide it at all. Her son was nice to me and was my boyfriend but his mother didn’t like me one but because of my father. In fact, she came one day and descended on me when I visited. It was a very ugly scene. I really don’t want to remember it although the whole thing is still fresh in my memory. The whole scenario that happened is still etched in my memory.

She walked you out of her son’s residence, did you cry later?

No, I didn’t cry! Did I cry that I wasn’t proud of my father or what? Or that I was ashamed of my father or what? They are the ones with a problem and not me. But that kind of thing would annoy me. They never made me cry or shed tears.

How was the relationship with your boyfriend, his mother having walked you out?

The relationship didn’t continue. We broke up. It didn’t just last. I knew that at times many parents didn’t want their sons dating me. That was why I wasn’t keen to meet people’s parents. I was very nervous about meeting people’s parents.

You were once married, what led to the breakup?

Yes, I was once married when I was in my 20s. My marriage then was fine but honestly I would not want to talk about my marriage. You can ask me about other things but not my marriage because I believe it is too personal to talk about. My ex-husband and I are still very friendly. We have a daughter between us. Please let’s leave it at that.

Have you ever felt like remarrying?

There was never a time I was in desperate need of another marriage. But I’m in a very happy relationship and I really don’t think I need to be married to be happy. Our relationship has been going on for a few years. I’m not a marriage kind of person. I have experienced it before and I don’t need to experience it again to know that I’m a human being or to know I’m a fulfilled woman. I’m quite okay with myself. I’m not missing marriage at all and as I said, I’m in a good relationship. I don’t need to get married to know that I’m happy.

What are some of your regrets in life?

I don’t like to dwell on regrets. There are things you would have done that you wished you didn’t do. I don’t dwell on them. I don’t relive them because there is nothing I can do about the situation. Once it has happened, there is nothing I can do to change it. So, I don’t dwell on it. I just move forward with my life. Regret is a negative feeling that will take you back, and I wouldn’t want anything that would take me back.

When you started dancing, how did it feel like, didn’t it affect your education? And what did you study?

It was fun. I loved to dance. I was doing a normal nine to five job but when my brother had his band, I left my job and joined him. There was not much money in it then but I didn’t regret it for one second. And each time I was on stage dancing, I was very happy. I was doing what I believe I was born to do. If you had seen me in those days; I was always smiling on stage. It pains me that I’m now getting old, but I still dance. I can still wriggle my waist the way I used to. It is just that I don’t do it on stage anymore because for me, if I do it, a lot of people who watch the dance are people I can give birth to. I would feel a bit funny dancing for them. That is like dancing for children. I still wish I could dance and go on tour but I have grown to another level.

I wasn’t dancing until after my education. I started dancing at 27. It is true I danced while I was still going to school but it didn’t affect my education.

I first studied Journalism but I didn’t do my finals and that was at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism when it was on the Lagos Island. After that, I did a secretarial course at Speed Writing School. I worked for four years before I started dancing.

What level are you now?

I’m at the level of teaching others how to dance. I also manage or run the shrine which, of course, is like a full-time job.

What does it take to run the Shrine?

You would have to ‘shine’ your eyes else they would cheat you. It is very difficult to trust anybody because there were some boys I trusted and they really did me bad. I don’t trust easily and I’m always here at the Shrine almost every day; unless I’m out of town. I try to make sure I’m here every day. Running the Shrine takes a lot out of you. But I don’t mind that, after all it is my business. I enjoy it.

For your staff, what do you do when they misbehave?

I don’t sack. I give them chance to either change or improve. I’m a bit soft. I don’t sack unless I find out that you are cheating me. If not, I like to give people chance to change. My brother even complains about this. He said I don’t know how to sack. That is why at times they use that as an avenue to misbehave. But what I do is to fine them. My staff enjoy working for me. I don’t carry any matrimonial problem to the work place, which is common among women because there is no marriage in the first place. I don’t think I’m a wicked boss.

What do you remember most about your late father?

I miss so many things about him – his talks, chats and music. I loved listening to him and his live shows. I missed watching him every week unless I wasn’t in town. I never missed his shows. There are some things that would happen and I say to myself, I wished Fela was here, he would have loved to hear this. But he has gone a while, so you have to move on unless you want to move into the ground. This reminds me of the time he was being lowered into his grave how one of his wives was crying and trying to enter into his grave. I told them to leave her let’s see whether she would enter and when she was left, she didn’t enter and I told them that all that was just a show. I don’t believe in that kind of show.

You used to call him Fela, which wasn’t African?

Well you have to tell him that. He is the one that wanted it. We never called him dad right from childhood. We wanted to but he didn’t want that. But calling him by his name didn’t stop us from relating well with him as our father.

What about your mother?

She never came to watch Fela’s live shows but she loved him until she died. I guess there were some certain things she couldn’t get along with him on. I think it was mostly his spiritual beliefs. She didn’t believe in them.

What is your life’s philosophy?

This is a hard one. I think mine is happiness and honesty. To be alive alone is a thing of joy.

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This Day

Military, Police Ring Abuja to Forestall Boko Haram Attack

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•Deploy more personnel as army chief vows to wipe out terror group
•Security beefed up at N’Assembly

Deji Elumoye and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, is under a massive security cordon following threats of attacks by insurgents and the increasing wave of banditry in the contiguous states of Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger States, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.

There has been a wave of kidnappings in the outskirts of the federal capital, notably Pegi, Tuganmaje and Kuje among others, which the police have battled in recent times.

The security situation in and around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was heightened by the pronouncement of the Niger State Governor, Mr. Sani Bello, that Boko Haram fighters who he said sacked 50 villages in the state and hoisted the terror group’s flag, were about two hours drive away from the FCT.

Security has also been beefed up at the National Assembly as operatives, yesterday, thoroughly screened every vehicle approaching the National Assembly complex in Abuja.

The deteriorating security situation nationwide prompted the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, to warn that the 2023 general election may not hold, demanding the declaration of a state of emergency as well as the convocation of a national conference.
However, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, yesterday restated the Nigerian Army’s determination to annihilate Boko Haram.

But the Governor of Katsina State, Hon. Bello Masari, cautioned against declaring a state of emergency, saying doing so isn’t the solution to combat the security challenges facing the country.
The security of the nation’s airports was also in focus yesterday as the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) said there was no threat to them.

THISDAY’s investigations showed increased presence of troops, police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) personnel and intelligence operatives at the three strategic entrances to the city notably, Keffi, Zuba and Gwagwalada.

More checkpoints were also mounted around Gwagwalada and Keffi.
THISDAY also observed increased intelligence deployment at the entrance and the borders of FCT with contiguous states.

Beyond the borders, there were more deployments and police patrols inside the city and increased intelligence deployments as well.
Security sources told THISDAY: “There are deployments here and there but they are routine. Alertness is key to a secure environment.”

It was also learnt that security agencies were involved in frenzied meetings throughout yesterday.
The meetings, coordinated by the office of the Chief of Defence Staff under the new joint operational strategy of the armed forces, were aimed at coordinating a joint response to possible threats of attack to the FCT.

“I understand the security teams have been meeting for some days now and if you look around you, you will notice that there are increasing patrols and numbers of security personnel. The threats are not been taken lightly,” a source said.

National Assembly workers, lawmakers and visitors also had a harrowing experience accessing the legislative complex due to heightened security in the area.
Security operatives thoroughly screened every vehicle approaching the National Assembly complex in Abuja, impeding both human and vehicular traffic.

The Sergeant-at-arm of the National Assembly and other security agencies supervised the operations, leading to huge traffic build-up inside the complex.

Legislative staff, visitors and lawmakers were seen patiently waiting for their cars to be searched so that they could go ahead with the business of the day.
Some staff and visitors at some point got tired of waiting and were seen alighting from their cars to trek from the gate to the complex.

Meanwhile, the ONSA has said there is no threat to the nation’s airports.
A statement by the Head of Strategic Communication, Mr. Zachari Usman, said the reports of threats to the airports were an internal correspondence of security threat assessment misconstrued as security threat to the airports.

PDP Demands State of Emergency

In a related development, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday demanded the declaration of a state of emergency, warning that the 2023 general election might not hold if the federal government failed to tackle insecurity.

He called on the federal government to summon a national conference to address the spike in insecurity.
Secondus added that the national caucus of the party will meet today to discuss the state of the nation.

Addressing members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja, Secondus said: “We are worried Abuja is not even safe. It is no longer politics. We got alert of plots to bomb and burn down our airports.

“We urge the federal government to declare a national state of emergency in security. There is the need to call a national conference to discuss the insecurity in the country.

“There may not be any election in 2023 in Nigeria due to insecurity. This government must listen to the people. The Buhari government should call a national confab to discuss security and state of the nation. It is no longer politics. This time we are not playing politics. Let’s keep politics aside and move the nation forward.”
He said the country had been grounded, regretting that there had been no matching response from the federal government.

Secondus said in the past, terrorism in the North was confined to the North-east, but with the report of Boko Haram occupying villages in Niger State, terrorism had spread to the North-central
“Herdsmen are also menacing in the West; gunmen causing havoc in the East; and the militants in the South; all killing, looting, raping, maiming and burning down homes. The situation is bad; Nigerians all over are living in fear,” he said.

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the problem of Nigeria was outside of the PDP headquarters, while pledging the support of the Senate to the declaration of state of emergency in security.

Abaribe said he deliberately decided not to speak on the floor of the Senate but to allow the APC senators to speak so as to avoid being accused of giving a partisan colouration to the issue of insecurity.

He stated that only electoral reforms would give victory to the opposition party in the 2023 general election and ensure a democratic defeat of the APC-led federal government.
Also, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, commended the NEC and the PDP leadership for their collective efforts at resolving the House leadership crisis.

The NEC meeting adopted the position of Secondus, calling on the federal government to convoke a national conference to discuss the state of insecurity in the country, according to a communiqué read by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan.

Army Chief Vows to Wipe Out Boko Haram

The army yesterday reiterated its commitment to wipe out Boko Haram.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, told reporters in Maiduguri, Borno State that Boko Haram had been defeated in many encounters and would continue to be defeated until it’s annihilated from Nigeria.

“We will take on Boko Haram decisively, and we are committed to the focus of the operations, which is the total annihilation of Boko Haram from Nigeria,” he said.

The COAS, who was visiting the headquarters of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri for the fifth time since his appointment four months ago, said the visit was to boost the morale of the troops, reassure them and listen to any issues affecting them.

Earlier, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Farouq Yahaya, lauded the visit, which he said had continued to boost the morale of the troops.
“We are honoured, we are grateful, we are encouraged by those visits. You provided us guidance, logistics and other things we required. We are most grateful for those visits,” Yahaya said.

State of Emergency Won’t Solve Security Challenges, Says Masari

Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Masari, has, however, said declaration of a state of emergency won’t solve the security challenges facing the nation.
Masari, who spoke yesterday with journalists after meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari at the State House, Abuja stated that he was against the recent call by the House of Representatives for the declaration of a state of emergency in the security sector as it would not solve the problem.
According to him, declaring a state of emergency will not achieve the desired effect as the security structure and personnel to be used to execute the emergency are already overstretched in a bid to safeguard lives and property.

Sourced From: THISDAYLIVE

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Tribune

Nigeria records 55 new COVID-19 infections, total now 165,110

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Tribune Online
Nigeria records 55 new COVID-19 infections, total now 165,110

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 62 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 165,110. The NCDC disclosed this on its official Twitter handle on Friday. “55 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria; Lagos-21, Yobe-19, Ogun-6, Akwa Ibom-3, Kaduna-2, Plateau-2, FCT-1, Rivers-1.” YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE COVID-19: Nigeria Recorded […]

Nigeria records 55 new COVID-19 infections, total now 165,110
Tribune Online

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Vanguard

Attacks on S’East: We must explore all options of negotiation — Stakeholders urge Igbo

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By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The people of the South East region have been urged to explore the power of negotiation and mutual settlement in the face of ongoing killings and security challenges in the zone because the east can not afford another war at present.

Stakeholders from the South-East geo-political zone made the remark on Thursday, at the unveiling of the book, “Igbo, 50 years after Biafra,” written by Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Drainage Services, Joe Igbokwe, held at Ikeja G.R.A.

Speaking at the unveiling of the book, the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Cutis Adigba,
urged the people of the South-East to learn to build bridges across the country, so that they can realise their ambition of producing the next president of Nigeria.

Adigba urged leaders from the zone to discourage the move and agitation by some youths in the South East to go to war and secede out of Nigeria.

Also read: Banditry: Disregard viral video, Niger State gov’t urges residents

He said that Igbo have always found it difficult to rule Nigeria because they refused to build bridges across the six geo-political zones that made up Nigeria.

While describing the agitation as uncalled for, Adigba noted that after two decades that Nigeria returned to civil rule, the Igbo has predominantly identified with only one political party.

He maintained that remaining in one party can not advance the cause of the people of South East and cannot make them realise their objective of producing an Igbo man as president.

He maintained that the publisher of the book, Igbokwe played politics outside his state, so that the Igbo race can be integrated with one another race.

Adigba said the failure of the Igbo to reintegrate with other ethnic nationalities politically was responsible for the retrogression of the race in Nigerian politics.

Igbokwe, also addressing guests on the occasion, maintained that the Igbo are not advancing politically because they refused to be integrated into National politics, lamenting that, despite their success in business, they are not successful in playing politics at the national level.

Corroborating Dimgba, Igbokwe noted that there was the need for the Igbo people to stand up and build bridges so that their objective of producing the next president of Nigeria could be realised.

According to him: “I have decided to raise my voice, I hope my people will hear me while trying to quell the effect of the war, our people are spoiling for another war, mayhem is being unleashed in Igbo land, and there is palpable fear.

“Those who could speak have lost their voice, mindful of the consequences of their actions, I am calling on all Igbo leaders to speak up because all actions carry consequences, consequences of the silence will be too dastardly to sustain.

“Those silently supporting the wild wind should be careful or else they hand over to their children,” he said.

Igbokwe urged those spoiling for war to jettison their plan and embrace dialogue, urging them to learn from the South West region that despite the challenges faced after the annulment of the June 12, 1993, election, they did not go to war, and the region had the opportunity of producing two of her sons for presidential position in 1999.

“You have to build bridges to become president of Nigeria, but it is unfortunate the Igbo are burning bridges.”

Speaking at the event, Chief Uche Dimgba who is the coordinator of Igbo in All Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos, described Igbokwe as “a Frank, fearless and reliable leader, who based his views on issues and stand by his opinions, and we the Igbo have confidence in him and believe he can lead us aright.”

“He is a leader we Igbo believe in and we will follow him. If he can serve all the governors produced in Lagos State since 1999, he is a better man to follow because he possesses all the experience that can be of benefit to Igbo both at home and in the diaspora.”

Vanguard News Nigeria 

The post Attacks on S’East: We must explore all options of negotiation — Stakeholders urge Igbo appeared first on Vanguard News.

Sourced From: Vanguard News

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Premium Times

Insecurity: Lagos bans occupation of abandoned buildings

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The government said that no worker should stay back beyond 6:00 p.m. within premises of buildings undergoing construction.

The post Insecurity: Lagos bans occupation of abandoned buildings appeared first on Premium Times Nigeria.

Sourced From: Premium Times Nigeria

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