AFROBEAT musician Seun Kuti has warned that the Nigerian government is threatening to shut down his father’s legendary shrine in Lagos if he goes ahead with the launch of his political resistance campaigned christened The Movement of the People.
Seun, 37, is the last son of legendary Afrobeat king Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and currently run’s his father’s shrine in Lagos. Like Fela, Seun has taken up his father’s cause of fighting against social injustice and sticking up for the downtrodden in Nigeria, which has set him at odds with the establishment.
In the run-up to Nigerian elections in 1979, Fela founded a party called Movement of the People and sought to run for president. However, his party did not meet the registration requirement and he was not allowed to stand for election but this did not dampen his enthusiasm for the fight for a better society.
Over the last two months, Nigeria has been in the throes of an upheaval as youths demonstrated against police brutality for a month in a campaign known as #EndSARS. With the government responding violently, using soldiers to shoot protesters and then embarking on a massive witch-hunt, Seun has decided to respond with a Movement of the People campaign.
Yesterday, Seun revealed that the government called his older sister and threatened that they would shut down the shrine in Ikeja, a Lagos suburb if Seun went ahead with the campaign. Seun also posted a letter from the divisional police officer of the Nigeria Police Force, Alausa Division, Ikeja, addressed to the manager of The African Shrine, warning him about possible action.
In the letter dated November 16, titled Mass Meeting of a Movement of the People the police said the meeting Seun was planning is not welcome at this perilous time. It read in part: “Your are hereby warned to suspend such gathering as any infraction that may emerge from this gathering will be tagged a deliberate action to sabotage the transition and restoration of the peace in Lagos State by Lagos State government and the Nigeria Police Force.”
Seun said: “On Sunday, November 15, the government called my eldest sister Yeni and threatened to close the shrine if I hold my event there on Tuesday and also sent a letter to back it up. I respect my families’ decision not to hold the event as is but I will still go ahead with all the other organisations to launch The Movement of the People and start our political resistance to the tyranny of this oppressive regime.
“This is a meeting, just a meeting of organisations and they are basically banning the right of association. Why are they afraid of the people organising? What is democratic about this act? The last time we tried to launch the government quickly called curfew and this time they have used threats but you can’t stop the will of the people.”
Organisations expected at the launch include Nigeria Resistance Movement, Socialist Vanguard Tendency, Movement for Socialist Alternative and Joint Action Front. They are expected to start off with a campaign against the current clampdown on #EndSARS protesters.