Omorinmade Anikulapo-Kuti Is THE FUTURE!

Words by: AKANNI

The sun crept lazily as it rose over Agidingbi that Sunday morning, and although I didn’t look it, the excitement in me was nearly bursting out of my seams. All my life I have marvelled at the Anikulapo-Kuti legacy.

Fela, the father of Afrobeat and a revolutionary in every letter of the word, created a sound that resonates so loudly in the commercial/contemporary sounds across the globe, and Fela’s sound put a spotlight on Nigeria. That sound is ever evolving and it is what Nigeria is now known for in the new millennium. Fela’s paradigms on the roles of Africans and African Americans in the journey to our future has created a certain level of unity, consciousness and self-awareness that is starting to become widely accepted both at home and abroad.

Fela, without question, has engraved his name on the altar of African legacies, and his sons, Femi and Seun, continue to add to the existing legacy. Of late, hanging out at the New Afrika Shrine, a new Kuti name lingers in the atmosphere and the name is on the tip of the people’s tongues: “Omorinmade Anikulapo Kuti” is his name, but everyone just calls him ‘Made’. The Pop ‘N’ Goss team was going to conduct an interview with him, which gave me a chance to write about this emerging legend of a millennial. I cannot write about this personality choice for our first digital editorial cover without talking about the one who made this possible: The brain box and squadron leader, Sheifunmi Nomia-Yusuf.

His sleepless nights and an unquenchable thirst for something bigger than himself birthed the gang. Prior to this day, I had no knowledge of my vast creative skills until I accidentally stepped into Sheifunmi’s workspace for creatives called ‘Indigo Space’. The visit happened through a friend, and it is a long story for another day, but stepping into Indigo Space, I can say it had an ambience that felt like home. Thinking back and given where we are right now, you can say that Indigo Space is Shei’s version of the Shrine. They have a similar ambience that feels homey and is always filled with a lot of creative, diverse and eccentric personalities. At my first encounter, Sheifunmi stepped out of his room into the studio-gallery, and he had a presence that I am still trying to decipher even today, but we connected. He could feel my energy and it was almost as though he could feel my emotions and thoughts. We talked extensively about creative and innovative things.

I found out on the day of our editorial shoot that Sheifunmi would be hosting the interview himself, which he had been reluctant to do for a while, but I wondered what had changed his mind. However, big ups to the man, please! More interestingly, once Made came around you could feel the energy around charge up. He was given respect by some men who had waited their whole lives for this but had never achieved it, but that didn’t take away from the almost easy-breezy calmness that engulfed him. If he was nervous, he wasn’t showing it. Sheifunmi introduced him to the editorial team. At this point, regular patronizers of the Shrine were looking at the stage, trying to figure out the grandiosity of it all. Some people even thought that Wizkid was coming, but the atmosphere became quite serious because we were set up on the historical stage that Fela had graced several times and that Femi and Seun Kuti had performed on, and that many dignitaries had stepped on.

The effrontery of it all! That was the reaction we kept receiving from the captive audience. Sheifunmi is quite a different personality when in work mode. There was a certain level of directness and a complete sense of knowing what he wanted from that day, so he braved it through the faces of shrine regulars who had respect for us but also didn’t understand what these young kids were doing on the stage. In a few minutes, Made began going back and forth on fashion looks with the millennial fashion marvel and creative director of Maxivive, Papa Oyeyemi.

At the initial stages, Made was resistant to our fashion picks because he didn’t expect that we’d pick outfit choices outside the box or the alternative. Granted, Sheifunmi always takes a mickey out of Papa’s designs and says his collection should always come with a how-to-wear instruction manual. Sheifunmi was prepared for what everyone thought was going to be a complicated shoot because every member of the editorial team has strong personalities, not to mention the three stars of our editorial shoot day. As time went by on fashion choices, we came to realize that Made wasn’t a fashionista like most famous faces or people in the limelight. That moment became rather humbling and intriguing. Papa shared his frustrations with Sheifunmi, and he responded with his usual nickname for the designer, “Pa, I know you are thinking and looking at things with creative eyes for the fashion and the cover.” At this point, I stopped loitering around Shei and stooped behind him, “Let’s focus more on the message that would come out from today; it may not feel like it today, tomorrow or even a year from now, but this will be historic and people will refer to this day many years later”.

Immediately, things took a different turn; it was as if a Shaman had spoken. The wardrobe selection became a breeze-through and the photo shoot had a regal ambience, Papa became open to creative alternatives and his mood was even brighter. Every creative person present on that stage experienced some sort of conscious awakening on the day of our editorial shoot.

POP CULTURE! Jan/Feb 2019 Issue

Omorinmade, who already is handsome, looked even more handsome in the different outfits and throughout the interview. His smile was bright and his energy was vibrant. The flow was fluid as Made rode the motions of the interview while Sheifunmi quizzed him on several topics that would have probably turned out controversial if a typical journalist were to ask them. Made was grilled like a primary schoolboy faced with a morning dictation quiz. Observing Sheifunmi and Made, there wasn’t any sign pointing that this was Omorinmade’s first editorial. He calmly and intellectually answered Shei’s questions, the questions that seemed to have been coming from the ordinary Nigerian citizen who honestly wanted to have another citizen’s opinion of home, as if to reassure his own beliefs and fears. It was supposed to be an interview, but it turned into an in-depth conversation. I guessed given the historical energy on this stage, which was Made’s turf, he had all the support he needed. Either that or Omorinmade just understood what was expected of him as an Anikulapo-Kuti.

This only deepened my curiosity about his coming to terms with himself and what is expected of the man he chooses to be. The Fela legacy is a big shoe to fill, and while we do not expect of Omorinmade what we expected of Fela, we look at his career as one that buds beautifully into a tree firmly planted in the legacy garden of the Anikulapos and the Kuti’s in general. Listening to and watching the interview, I didn’t know when I mustered, ‘This would indeed be spoken of for years to come’, as the depths of these conversations could only have been attained by these two old souls.

Look for the interview in our forthcoming digital editorial and Gazette ‘POP CULTURE by Pop ‘N’ Goss’. The interview will bring a new level of positive consciousness to Nigerian youths and millennials, more so to those who heartfully read the interview or see clips of the interview. This is an interview in which he reminds you and lets you believe that we are in fact THE FUTURE.

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Photo: Victor Williams (@Willens)
Stylist: Papa Oyeyemi (@papaoyeyemi)
Wardrobe: Maxivive (@Maxivive)
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