Daring the authorities is something you can’t take away from the Kutis. The matriarch herself, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, was a female suffragist, rights activist and nemesis to a first class traditional ruler in Abeokuta and British colonialists in London. Her son, Fela, sparred with both civilian and military governments for which he served time severally in the slammer. Now her grandson, Seun, has continued what seems to be a family tradition by daring the DSS to arrest him after calling Mrs. Aisha Buhari a “fat goat.” THEWILL wonders if the chap has gone too far this time. Michael Jimoh reports…
From his relative obscurity in a lesser known institution of higher learning, a student suddenly found himself famous for the wrong reasons. Aminu Mohammed a student of Environmental Management at Federal University, Dutse Jigawa state, was thrust into the public space after calling out the first lady, posting on his Twitter handle that she had become fat as a result of feeding at the expense of poor Nigerians.
Only a few days to his exams, the 23-year-old student found himself answering questions not from his examiners but a combined team of DSS operatives and the police in the Federal Capital Territory where he was whisked to from Dutse. He was detained, tortured for his ungracious remarks about the wife of the president. Mohammed’s arrest and detention by the law enforcement agents raised hackles everywhere, including Amnesty International. Joining thousands of Nigerians in defence of the poor chap, Seun weighed in heavily, pointedly telling Mrs. Buhari that she was indeed not only “fat” but a “fat goat.”
Not keeping silent in the face of obvious oppression and tyranny, and like his father who abhorred any form of oppression, especially by military governments, Seun went further to challenge the DSS to “come and arrest me.”
”You are fat and it is our money you use to get fat,” Seun wrote, sort of rehashing Mohammed’s previous post. He went on, “send your DSS come this side. If you no send that your DSS come this side you no get sense, you be goat. Aisha Buhari you are fat!”
With that pronouncement, you could say Seun is a true chip of the old block, considering his father’s numerous run-ins with military governments in Nigeria. One infamous incident was in 1984. Major General Muhammadu Buhari was head of state at the time and, along with his second in command Major General Tunde Idiagbon, the Supreme Military Council had reviewed the Basic Travelling Allowance of travellers from N800 down to N500 per person.
In September of that year, Fela and his band were to travel from Lagos to New York for a concert tour with his Afrika 70 Band. On arrival at the airport, he declared £1,600 with the Customs official. It was certainly more than what the government prescribed as BTA for an individual travelling outside the country. A reliable source has written that “when Fela prepared to leave Nigeria for the States, he again filled in the correct form, and declared the £1,600 he was taking out of the country. When he handed in the currency form, he was asked for a tip by the official. Fela said he didn’t have any money on him and would catch him later. When another official discovered the money in a coat being carried by one of his party, the official who had asked for a tip then denied that he had seen the form.”
Fela was charged for currency smuggling and thus did his journey to a five year jail term begin, first, to Kirikiri Maximum Security Lagos and, then, Maiduguri Prison in the North east. Of course, most Nigerians criticized the decree at the time. And it most certainly looked like a bad rap for a most vocal critic of military governments. In retrospect, Fela may not have helped his case at all, thus lending credence to the Yoruba adage that if you have a mind of burning someone and he rubs petrol on his body, he may just have made the job easier.
For an individual in the sightline of a military government he’d serially denounced, travelling with more than what the SMC prescribed as BTA was simply tempting fate. Of course, Fela’s luck ran out. Asked about the incident back then, a senior journalist who followed the trial has put it in a better perspective. According to him, it was Fela’s way of saying “I no gree, I no gree,” his opposition to military government’s policy concerning the BTA.
It is true that most Nigerians, especially economists, panned the decree back then. But not one of them flouted the law by travelling with more than the recommended BTA. Only Fela did!
Born on January 11, 1983, Seun was only a year and nine months old when his father went to jail, robbing him of some of the most precious moments a child would have spent with a beloved parent. Many years later, the animus still remains as witnessed in an interview Seun granted about his father’s jailor PMB. “For you to jail that man you must be inherently evil.”
Against that background, some analysts now see his recent outburst against the wife of the president as a continuation of that aversion to the Buharis. Mohammed’s post about Aisha getting fat provided Seun, some say, with an arsenal to lob at someone from the Buhari clan by calling her a “fat goat.”
But was it necessary to describe her in such uncharitable words, such ungracious words that anyone would take exception to if used to describe one’s own mother? Besides, why would Seun ask Aisha to bring along her DSS operatives to arrest him? Does it smack of daring the authorities like some of the Kutis have done for years?
In short, has Seun gone too far in dissing the wife of the president and daring the DSS to come and fetch him?
Though he was in detention for a year and half for the currency smuggling offence in 1984, Fela told a reporter he was never afraid that anything might happen to him. It is just possible that his son might be feeling the same way, that no matter how provocative and galling his utterances may sound, he is simply quite untouchable being a Kuti himself.
In mid-December 2020, for instance, Seun had a confrontation with revelers in his neighbourhood which confirmed that he can hold his own as a Kuti. Before you could spell the family name, news was everywhere that the last born of Fela threatened partygoers in his neighbourhood with a gun. What was the problem?
There was a party in his Off Allen neighbourhood which extended right to his gate. Seun couldn’t access his gate because a guest had blocked his gate with his car outside. Seun was not amused and he made his mind known to the organisers.
According to Temitayo Ayetoro, an eye witness who shared his experience through his Twitter handle back then, the party-goers, Seun charged, were fond of littering his street with their cars and parking indiscriminately, making it almost impossible for him and his neighbors to move about freely.
Continuing, Ayetoro said the singer discovered someone had used his car to block his gate when he wanted to go out and things escalated after one of the bouncers at the party accosted him and threatened his life. Seun soon proved his street cred. “Their bouncer came to meet me and threatened my life. He threatened my f**king life. He said ‘no be you be Seun Kuti? Me I dey come Shrine well well. I go come Shrine come find you. I go treat your f**k up. I should let him go so he would come and kill me? So I said you will kill me? You will treat my f**k up?
“That is when the fight started. And we didn’t need to pull guns on anybody because we beat them with our bare hands, burst all their nose, tore all their uniform. Yes there were gunshots because men dey. Men dey! This is f**king Allen fam! You want to try rubbish. I didn’t come to your hood. You want to try rubbish and gunshot wouldn’t sound?”
So, in the event of a fight, Seun is not known to back down (like his father did with authoritarian military regimes) and now with disrespectful partygoers trespassing the neighbourhood.