It was double joy for Yeni, eldest daughter of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti recently. Reason: her fiancé of almost a decade, Theo Lawson, gave her surprise 55th birthday bash (HERE) and equally proposed marriage to her. In an exclusive chat with Entertainer, an obviously excited Yeni gushed about the proposal, describing it as a complete shock! Enjoy it.
You recently turned 55, how do you feel?
At 55, you start to feel the aches and pains of old age. You start to say ‘huh, my back is paining me; my wrist is paining me, my finger is paining me’, that’s when you start noticing the aches and pains. But I love being this age because you have reached the age where you can say what you want, and nobody can question you. You are no longer the young person you used to be, you are now an older person; you just have to earn that respect because of your age. But, you know, it’s the same body you had when you were in your twenties. It’s the same mind you had when you were in your thirties; it’s just getting older. You realise that you are old when you are driving down the road and someone calls you ‘mummy’, that means you don’t look young again, you are looking like ‘mummy’, that reality strikes you and you say ‘so, I am mummy to this person, he is looking at me and he is seeing mummy or she is looking at me and she is seeing mummy’. You know, twenty years ago or fifteen years ago, they will not call me mummy; they will call me a girl, but now they call me mummy so, it shows I am really looking my age (Laughter).
Now that you are engaged, are you putting marriage into consideration?
Not at all. The ring my partner gave me is what they call ‘a commitment ring’. He gave me his mother’s wedding ring as a commitment to the relationship. We have been together for about nine years. When I met him, he used to wear the ring around his neck, so for me, it is a big deal. He has entrusted me with something very close to his heart. It is not like we are going to start doing wedding and all that, even though we are really committed to each other. I call him ‘my last bus stop’. If God gives us long life and says there should be another man in my life, he is the man for me and I believe I am the woman for him as well. When he made the proposal, we didn’t know that it was going to go viral.
How did you feel when he proposed?
I was shocked! I was very happy because I didn’t see it coming at all. In fact, the surprise party blew me out of my mind; it was a double shock for me; I thank God my shock absorbers are still working.
What do you cherish most about yourself?
I don’t know what I really cherish about myself. Let us say my hair, because I remember when I burnt my hair and I thought I was not going to have hair again, I was devastated. Well, I think the most important thing is good health. I want to see my grandchildren, so I think I cherish good health because I want to spend some time with my grandchildren. I am looking forward to when I’ll have grandchildren.
At 55, do you still dance?
I take dance classes every Saturday at Freedom Park (Lagos), and I still train dancers. You know, dancing is a part of me.
What is the best thing Fela’s name has done for you?
It has not put millions on my table. I wish it would. Well, you know Fela was an icon, so whether I do anything or not, people just respect the name and they also expect good things from me. People ask me, ‘Yeni, why don’t you go into politics?’ And I say the reason is that I don’t want to tarnish the good name my father left for us. If I go into politics and I enter into all this Senate ‘chop chop’ and collecting big salaries, that would mean tarnishing the good name of my father. You know, his name has made us one with the man on the streets, so I prefer that world because the man on the street is the pulse of the nation. We are not in the elite group. These are the important things my father’s name has done for us; he made us to be part of the pulse of Nigeria. We feel the pain. I don’t live in Ikoyi or Victoria Island.
Let us go back to the word ‘commitment’ you mentioned earlier. Now that both of you are committed to each other, do you intend living together?
We probably will and we are working towards it. I have a lot of responsibilities and I have a lot of clothes too, so I have to be very careful. If I move to his house with all of my clothes, he will say ‘oya, go back!’ So, I have to be very careful. Right now, I have a lot of responsibilities. We love each other a lot and we are working into building our retirement home; he sent me a picture the other time to tell you why we should stay together.
Despite being 55, you are still beautiful, could you share your beauty secrets?
I just try to sleep and laugh a lot. I think laughter works a lot of wonders and you hardly find me miserable. Even if something makes me sad, I still try to be cheerful; laughter is very important in our lives.