YENI, eldest child of the late Afrobeat icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, is in happy mood. Her long time fiancé, Theo Lawson, finally proposed marriage to her on Tuesday May 24, 2016.
It was indeed a re-enactment of history, as the event took place inside the same hall of Parisona Hotel now Prince of Anthony Hotel, Anthony Village, Lagos, where Fela married 27 women in one fell swoop on February 19, 1978, on the first anniversary of the burning down of Kalakuta Republic by “unknown soldiers.”
Veteran journalist, Mallam Abdul Okwechime and Akin Adeoya, CEO, Prince of Anthony Hotel, had organised a surprise 55th birthday party for Yeni. The event, which witnessed an impromptu performance by Yeni’s younger brother, Femi Kuti on stage, started at 7pm with an emotional outburst from the celebrant upon walking into a hall filled with friends and family members waiting to sing her a happy birthday song.
Yeni had thought Lawson was taking her on a get-away, to a place where no one would disturb them. However, when her fiancé finally picked her up at the New Afrika Shrine, Ikeja after her programme, Your View on TVC, it was indeed to a serene Prince of Anthony Hotel.
Initially, Yeni couldn’t recognise the totally refurbished Prince of Anthony Hotel as the then Hotel Parisona. She was ushered into the Royal Suite of the hotel with Lawson, who of course, knew all the plans. At the dot of 7pm, Lawson asked her to come with him downstairs to the hotel’s Chinese Restaurant, as part of her private birthday treat. But on getting there, Yeni almost fainted, as she beheld friends and family members including Femi Kuti, her colleagues at TVC, and a host of other associates all numbering about 50, who bust into a happy birthday song.
But this was just the beginning of the night of surprises. After the cocktails, and the sumptuous meals, came time for felicitation. Femi and Seun Kuti, who came in late, Dr. Dotun Ransome-Kuti, eldest of the Kuti clan, and Kunle Kuti, all took turns to pour encomiums on the celebrant.
The icing on the cake of the birthday party was when Lawson went on bended knees and in measured tones proposed marriage to Yeni. After the proposition, the hall went into a frenzy as the musicians exploded into different beats. Multi-talented singer, Ade and guitarist-cum-singer, Aduke performed song after song. So also was the ageless Jimi Solanke. But the night was wrapped up when Femi Kuti took to the stage and performed in honour of his elder sister.
Still dazed by the entire event, Yeni said: “I am still in a shock.”