BEVERLY HILLS, May 30, (THEWILL) – The scion of the Anikulapo-Kuti clan, Yeni, last Monday, shut down Ikeja, Lagos in celebration of her 60th birthday. A very pleasant personality who has friends from all walks of life, Yeni’s goodwill attracted many Nigerians who found it expedient to grace her birthday party. IVORY UKONU presents what went down at the much-talked about event.
The celebrant made provision for all that would be needed to adhere strictly to COVID-19 protocols, from a sterilising walk-through booth to hand sanitisers and free face masks. However, social distancing was thrown to the winds. Many of the guests were seen milling about the expansive hall without a face mask. Only a few guests wore face masks when they stepped into the hall. The celebrant had her face shield on while the party lasted.
The party took place at the African Shrine which was built by the celebrant’s younger brother and Grammy-nominated Afro beat musician, Femi Anikulapo Kuti. As the one running and keeping it vibrant and also due to its capacity to accommodate the crowd expected to attend her party, Yeni naturally chose the Shrine as the venue for the event.
The dress code
About 70 per cent of the guests present at the party wore the Aso ebi (uniform) for the party. The Aso ebi was the traditional Tye and Dye fabric which many made into various stylish dresses. Most of the guests who didn’t adorn the fabric settled for other kinds of native attire.
Tight security at the venue
Due to the perceived notion that hoodlums abound around the vicinity of the shrine, most of who indulge in vices, including the smoking of Indian Hemp, Yeni ensured there was tight security at the venue to prevent uninvited guests from gaining entrance into the party. Also, because Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State was expected at the party, the screening of guests and the extra security couldn’t be over emphasised. In addition, men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency were on hand to ensure the free flow of traffic around the venue.
Family is everything
Rolari, her only daughter with her late ex-husband, Femi Segun, flew in from the United Kingdom with her husband and two children to share in her mother’s joy.
Funke Kuti was chief usher
Despite the fact that Funke Kuti is no longer married to Yeni’s brother, Femi, she has maintained a very intimate relationship with the Kutis and this she displayed at the party. She was the chief usher at the party, ensuring that guests were well treated.
Sanwo-Olu the special guest
Midway into the event, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu arrived to felicitate with Yeni. In his speech, he recounted how the celebrant insisted that he make it to her party despite the fact that his itinerary was packed full. But because of her insistence and also due to the fact that they had been close friends for a long time, he had no choice but to attend the event. He also revealed that he is in fact an in-law to the Kutis. His stay was, however, very brief.
The beef between Seun Kuti and Sanwo-Olu that never happened
There were reports on the social media that Seun Kuti allegedly stormeof d out the venue of the party as soon as Sanwo-Olu walked into the party as he couldn’t stand being in the same place with the alleged ‘oppressor’ of the people. The 37-year-old Grammy-nominated musician and the youngest son of Fela Kuti has been the most vocal critic of the government among Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s children. And that explains why the narrative, pushed out by HipTV, that he raised his middle finger at the governor and walked out as soon as he walked into the party, quickly caught on.
It is alleged that it took the intervention of his older brother, Femi Kuti, to calm him down and bring him back into the hall after he stormed out and made him apologise to the governor. Nothing could be farther from the truth. First, the video, which was bandied around by HipTV, did not show Seun raising his middle finger at the governor and Seun did not storm out of the party because of Sanwo-Olu. Seun got upset because in trying to usher in their boss, the security officials attached to Sanwo-Olu, overzealously pushed Seun’s partner who staggered and almost fell. Expectedly, Seun tackled the said operative and just before a scuffle could happen, Femi, his older brother stepped in.
Yeni’s brothers serenaded her
Besides the live band that was on hand to thrill the guests with all kinds of music, ranging from oldies to traditional songs, the celebrant’s younger brothers, Seun and Femi Kuti, took time to thrill the guests with their brand of music and dance.
That Yeni’s thank you speech
While the party was underway, Yeni took time to thank her guests for accepting her invitation to attend, despite the fact that it was on the first day of the week. She specifically thanked Femi and his children for being there for her. She thanked her co-hostees on the lifestyle programme, Your View, on Television Continental. Her co-hostess, Morayo Afolabi-Brown, Tope Mark-Odigie and Akashat Nymat, Mariam Longe and Obiajulu Ugboh, had reached out to fans of the show to get her a befitting birthday gift. The fans responded and on the morning of her birthday, Yeni, who said she had been planning to change her car, received a birthday present of a Sport Utility Vehicle from her co-hosts. A week before her birthday, she got a parcel of land from a real estate firm that graced their talk show.
The one and only Theo Lawson
During her speech, Yeni took time to appreciate her boyfriend, Theo Lawson, for his love and for standing by her over the 15 years they have been together. She also told the gatherig how he was instrumental in ensuring the success of the party. The invite, which came in a box, she revealed to THEWILL exclusively, was designed by Theo, an architect who co-runs Freedom Park. A catchy invitation card, it was designed like a hand fan with Yeni’s pictures on it.
How the celebrant entertained
At some point during the party, Yeni who wore a ball gown changed into a shorter outfit and joined some of Femi’s dancers on the dance floor to show that age is nothing but a number and that she still has it in her. For many who don’t know, Yeni used to dance for her brother when she joined his band as a singer and dancer after dropping her job as a fashion designer.
Guests who made it to the party
Some of the guests who made it to the party were veteran actress, Taiwo Ajayi Lycett; actor and movie producer/director, Kunle Afolayan; OAP, Olisa Adibua; HIPTv founder, Ayo Animashaun; arts critic and curator, Jahman Anikulapo; Kenny and Idowu Ogungbe; Dayo Adeneye and many others.