Funke Kuti, the beautiful, sassy dancer and ex-wife of Afrobeat star, Femi Kuti, is one woman many find intriguing, not only because of her crashed marriage, but also for her strong resolve to pick together the pieces and move on. Soft-spoken Funke has successfully moved on from being an ‘Afrikan Shrine’ dancer to building a career in the corporate world, insisting that she has little time for men. The University of Lagos Business Administration graduate says, “A serious lady doesn’t wait for the company of a man to add value to her life, except of course you want to be a liability; and nobody wants that.” Excerpts:
What has Funke Kuti been up to all these while?
(Laughs) What have I been up to? I have been around, running the company and giving my best to make it work.
That’s your business, F.K Management. How easy is it doing your own thing, running your own company?
It’s been challenging, but we are getting there. We have started making headways, working on some projects right now. Our newest sign-on, Engager, is gradually becoming a household name and there is the Oleku Concert we are involved in, and other things. We are getting there.
What are the major challenges on the way to getting there?
At the initial stage, it was the fact that we were new, but thank God for our competitive edge of ingenuity and dedication towards going the extra mile. We can say that to an appreciable extent, that we have proven our point. But the recurring one is economic challenges. Trying to get the capital and funds to attain the kind of standard one aspires is quite tasking.
I thought you had huge financial backing before you left the certainty of paid employment at NSL to start your own?
I’ll take that as a prayer to say a big amen to. But seriously, the point is, no matter how much money you have, how comfortable you may be, there will always be a better standard you’ll love to set, to attain, if you have that vision, that ambition that drives you. Good, the F.K Management is slowly moving towards set goals, but I desire better pace. And that requires more capital to achieve.
Is it true you left NSL because they weren’t doing we’ll and salaries were owed?
That’s not true, the company wasn’t doing badly. As at the time I left, the company was doing okay. It was sustaining its operations. So all those things you said didn’t come into the equation. I left because I felt the time was right for me to leave. It was a decision based on personal projections. I left NSL to be fully involved in running F.K Management, to take it to the next level. Before I left NSL, I was running it by the side and when I felt the time was ripe for me to be fully involved, I left to fully take charge of the operations.
Do you miss anything about paid employment?
Maybe the job security (laughs), because now I am the one paying the overhead bills and salaries of others; and the comradeship of the co-workers, because the company was like a family thing. We worked together as one. Outside of that, I enjoy what I am doing now, the thrills and excitement of building something out of nothing and proving that, ‘yes, I can’. The feeling is incomparable.
Don’t you feel life would have been easier with a man by your side?
I don’t think so. Maybe it would have been so if one is not adequate and suffers from inferiority complex. But that is not the case. I have the zeal and dedication it takes, and I am doing it. A serious lady doesn’t wait for the company of a man to add value to her life, except of course you want to be a liability. And nobody wants that.
You mean there’s no man in your life right now?
(Laughs) Sure, there are. As a matter of fact, there are two men in my life – my son and my company, F.K Management.
Are you sure there is nobody outside of these two?
How many do you expect I have? Are those two not enough?
How is your son, Made? How easy is it parenting him since you no longer reside with father and son?
It is easy enough. I get to see him when I want. I visit, we talk regularly on phone. We get on well.
What kind of relationship exists between you and Femi Kuti, after all these years?
We are very good friends; we relate very well. Don’t forget that he is the father of my son. We talk on common things. At times I call my son and if he is there, he gives the phone to him(Femi) and we all talk. There is no bitterness, no rancour.
Even with the divorce on-going?
Yes, because we have lived apart for so long it is a normal thing. And ordinarily, I think it takes only three years to live apart for any of the parties involved in such a case to sue for divorce. So there is nothing to it other than the case is in court. That there is a divorce case doesn’t make us enemies. This is a relationship between two mature people.
You celebrated your 40th birthday not too long ago. What is the most cherished thing you have at 40?
That is my son. There is no joy, happiness that can be compared to having him.
Any regrets about your life so far?
No, I don’t think so. Maybe if I get to live my life again, I’ll effect one or two little changes because nobody is perfect. But outside of that, I thank God.
Love works in mysterious ways; any chance of another marriage?
(Laughs) Marriage and men are out of my agenda now. I am totally focused on taking my business to greater heights. Talks of marriage and men, for me, at this point are a distraction.
Ultimately, what is your dream for your company?
My dream is to be the number one events, public relations and artiste management firm around.
And generally, what experiences will you say prepared you towards achieving this?
There is the depth of experience I have garnered over the years working at NSL. Also, being a part of Femi Kuti’s Positive Force has helped prepare me for the challenges of the artiste management bit. Then, we went on tours all over the world. His whole international management team, the manager, publicist, tour manager among others traveled with us. I saw them work and my love for the entertainment industry made me want to learn more. So I started reading extensively on artiste management and doing researches on my own. For running the business, the public relations and event management aspect of the company, I gained overwhelming wealth of experience from NSL (now SET PLC) as the bedrock of my preparation for the task ahead. Before I resigned, I handled, concurrently in some cases, such departments as public relations, events, sponsorship, marketing, foundation, administration and sales. I believe with these experiences at my finger tips, my determination and drive, there is absolutely no reason for me not to succeed with F.K Management. We have more than it takes to deliver on projects and succeed.