Nigerian media personality and daughter of Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Yeni Kuti, has shed light on the cause of her father’s death.
Fela, the renowned Afrobeat legend, passed away on August 2, 1997, and his brother, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, publicly announced that Fela had died from complications related to AIDS.
During a recent interview with media personality Chude Jideonwo, Yeni revealed that initially, she and her siblings rejected the decision made by their uncle, Dr. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, to disclose that their father had died of AIDS.
However, after numerous persuasions from family members, they eventually agreed to allow their uncle to make the announcement.
Yeni said she later discovered that her uncle’s decision was the best because it put speculations about the cause of the death of the legendary musician to rest permanently.
“Then, I didn’t think the decision by his brother [Dr. Olikoye Ransome Kuti] to announce that he [Fela] died of AIDS was the best.
“I remember we [Fela’s children] had a big fight with my uncle at a time. They had already diagnosed Fela with AIDS at the hospital.
“Uncle Koye wasn’t in town when the diagnosis came. And he came maybe about two days later…Then he called us, Femi, Shola and I, ‘you know what has happened, I’m going to announce to the press that he has AIDS.’
“We said, ‘No, way’. At that time, we still thought Fela would survive. We said, ‘look, it’s not your place to announce that Fela has AIDS, if Fela survives, let him.’ And he said, ‘Okay, you have a point.’
“But then, Fela now died. And he [Dr. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti] said he is going to announce that Fela had AIDS.
“We quarrelled with him. The whole family started talking to us, ‘it’s not good to lie, people are still going to discover.’ So, reluctantly, we agreed.
“But I have to say it now, I think it was the best decision that my uncle made. If he had not announced it, till now they [journalists] will still be doing underground ‘what killed Fela?”