Theo, Yeni Kuti’s Hearts Beat as One

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Yeni with her siblings

Nseobong Okon-Ekong

There are many things that make the recent marriage proposal by popular Lagos architect, Theo Lawson to his lover, Yeni, daughter of the late Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, emotional and memorable.

Take the hotel where Theo entered his plea, ‘please, marry me’, for instance, it is the very same edifice where Fela was joined to his 27 wives. It used to be called Hotel Parisona. Time and chance have tampered with the space and ownership of the hotel. Today, it stands as the Prince of Anthony Hotel, a member of 1960 Hotels group owned by former staff of THISDAY Newspapers, Akin Adeoya, who went on to hit a fortune in Public Relations.

By his confession and work as a journalist, Adeoya is a huge fan of Fela and divine orchestration ordered his steps to purchase a historic structure tied to the memory of his hero. But this is not the only reason Anthony Village resonates with Yeni. His late uncle, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti used to live there. And just around the corner from the hotel is Adebayo Mokuolu College where her younger siblings, Seun and Motun received secondary education.

At 55, Yeni will assumedly enter her second marriage with a long-standing friend and confidant. Incidentally, Theo, who is separated from his wife, was a good friend of her erstwhile late husband, Femi Segun. Both men maintained an exemplary warm relationship, even when Yeni’s heart had left Femi and started beating for Theo.

The event, which saw an impromptu performance of Yeni’s younger brother, Femi Kuti on stage, started at 7:00pm promptly on the day, with an emotional outburst from the guest of honour, Yeni, upon walking into a hall full of family and friends waiting to sing Happy Birthday to her.

All day long, she had thought Theo Lawson, her fiancé was taking her on a get-away; to a place where no one would disturb them. When Theo finally picked her up at the New Afrika Shrine, after her programme, “Your View” on TVC, it was indeed to a quiet serene hotel in Anthony Village, Lagos.

It was a deeply emotional moment, as everyone looked on. Theo Lawson, her fiancé of over five years, in measured tones proposed marriage to Yeni Kuti. After the proposition by Theo, the hall went into frenzy as the musicians exploded into different beats.

Adeh, a multi-talented musician, held sway. Aduke, the guitarist/singer, performed next; so also the ageless Jimi Solanke. But the icing of the night’s performances was when Femi Kuti took the stage and performed in honour of her elder sister.
Amazed but excited, Yeni summed up the night’s feelings with these words, “I am still in shock.”

exciting strategy.