Femi Barred Me From Afrika Shrine After Fela’s Death, Says Egypt ’80 Bandleader, Baba Ani

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Lekan Animashaun, a veteran musician and former leader of the famous Egypt ’80 band, has accused the children of Afro Beat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, of barring him from performing at the Afrika Shine after their father’s death in 1997.

In a recent interview with LEADERSHIP, the 83-year-old, popularly known as Baba Ani, said Femi’s hatred towards him was so strong that he fumes whenever his name is mentioned. He revealed that he was told Femi referred to him as “that your Baba Ani”.

“Let me tell you something, they don’t even want to see my face except for Seun because I was being used by Olodumare to keep Fela’s band alive after his death.” 

“That is why you don’t see me at the Shrine. I am not welcomed there. I have not been invited to anything that has to do with Fela including the Kalakuta museum launching and others that have happened. Even government officials don’t reckon with us that suffered with Fela. That is the way they want it,” he said.

He continued; “An incident happened that Seun relayed to me that anytime my name is mentioned, Femi always fuses and Seun advised that I should not come to the shrine because of that. ‘So where is that your Baba Ani? I don’t want to see his face here.’ That is Femi saying ‘that your Baba Ani’. That is someone that served your father for 32 years. The money your father made from the band was used to send you to school and took care of your mum. Can you see how life is?”

According to him, aside Yeni and Femi who seldom care about him, Seun was the only person that gave him audience, adding that the latter went as far as including some of his songs in his own albums.
Baba Ani also said he was not receiving royalties from all his inputs in Fela’s works till date.

“All the works that they did with their father, they are the only one enjoying the royalties. Won fun wa ni nkankan (we were not given anything from the royalties).”

When asked about the impact of Fela’s song on today’s musicians, the octogenarian who also plays piano said, “What I can say is that a lot of today’s artistes love Fela’s songs but don’t believe in his ideology.

“They are using the songs to make money. My advice to today’s musicians is to learn their trade well about the music they are singing. Whatever you want to learn about music, know your trade well and don’t be distracted by fame, women, drugs and alcoholic drinks.”

Baba Ani joined Fela’s band in 1965. He had read about him in the papers that he wanted to start a new band, so he decided to make his intention known. 

“I joined Fela’s band in 1965. He was a producer at the NBC. I used to come there to perform for the NBC Dance Orchestra organised by the late Pa Fela Sowande. Fela had come back from London then. I read about him in the papers that he wanted to start a new band.

“So I met him in front of the reception and told him that I wanted to be part of the band. He asked me if I could read music and I told him yes. He also asked if I had my instrument, I told him I had my baritone saxophone. So Fela told me to meet at his house, 14A Agege Motor Road, Mushin, the one razed down by the soldiers, at a particular date.

“When I got there, I met Isaac Olasugba, Tony Allen and Benson Idonije. Fela had put down a piece and asked me to play it. After playing it, he tapped Benson Idonije saying, “I’ll take him”. That was why I joined the band, Fela Randsome Kuti and the Koola Lobitos.

“Our first performance was at Abalabi, a place at Idi-oro in Mushin. That was in March 1965. After we came back at the Berlin Jazz Festival of 1979, Fela disbanded the band asking whoever was interested to re-apply. He called me aside that I was going to be his new bandleader.

Baba Ani’s love for music started when he was young. He was taught how to sing by Chris Ajilo at Herbert Macaulay, Yaba, in 1959. 

“My love for music had started when I was young. I had a brother who was a musician, Mr Waheed Oladipo Williams. He was a naval officer and gave me a note to see Chris Ajilo at Herbert Macaulay, Yaba.

“This was in 1959. Chris Ajilo taught me the theory and practice of music. His band, Chris Ajilo and the Cubanos, was the resident band at the Federal Palace Hotel.”

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