The 2016 annual celebration of Fela Kuti was popular for a lot of highlights, music and diversity, but one person whose name was not welcome at the event was Dede Mabiaku.
Mabiaku, who is a versatile musician, playing Afrobeat, Highlife and Jazz music genres, is a protégé of the Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Dede learnt music at the feet of the Nigerian icon. For more than 10 years, he was an integral part of Fela’s daily life and his band Egypt 80. Dede opened all Felas local and international shows, performing on vocals and playing the saxophone.
Since Fela’s death and the inception of Felabration 18 years ago, Dede Mabiaku has never performed at the annual festival despite his close ties with the late Fela. But on October 15, 2016, at the Felabration, his name came up at the concert meant to celebrate Fela, and it brought anger from Fela’s son and Afrobeat icon, Femi Kuti.
Femi was enjoying a performance with veteran singer Daddy Showkey. The duo performed a number of Showkey’s hit songs, including ‘Diana’, and others. Daddy Showkey, in the spirit of the occasion asked that Mabiaku be invited to Felabration and immediately, Femi Kuti, changed his countenance and took out time to respond to the request.
In Femi’s words, ‘he claims he’s Fela’s son but anytime we do anything for Fela, he never shows up. We don’t pay anybody to come for Felabration, we just mention Fela’s name and artiste turn up because of their love for Fela. So anybody we wan shakara us make he go die.’
Femi Kuti spoke some more about Dede’s lack of support to Felabration, and how he has not contributed to the movement.
Dede Mabiaku had earlier granted an interview in September 2016, claiming that he had not been invited by the Kuti’s to come perform at Felabration. “I don’t have any issue with any of what you have mentioned (Femi Kuti, Yeni Kuti). That I have not been invited by them to perform at the Felabration, it should be your duty to ask them how and why,” he told Global Excellence.
Founder of the Global Entertainment Festival, aka Felabration,Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, in 2015 revealed that there is no rift between her and Dede Mabiaku. Yeni said that there was no problem between Dede and her family.
“I am not fighting Dede. When we meet we greet and we talk,”she said.
Just like the years before, Felabration continues to honour the memory, and celebrate the achievement of Nigeria’s greatest musician in a grand music festival, the likes of which has never been achieved in Nigeria. 2016 had the finest acts in the country, come forward to pay their respects via performances and stories about the greatness of Fela Anikulakpo Kuti.