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Disappointment trails cancellation of Felabration over licensing challenge

By Tunde Oyedoyin, London 29 August 2017   |   2:34 am

Femi Kuti (middle) and members of the Chilean Guest Band meant to play with him after the cancellation of Felabration in London…yesterday.

The much-anticipated 20th anniversary of the death of Afrobeat icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, popularly called Felabration, suffered a major setback at the Notting Hill carnival yesterday in London.

This followed Kensington and Chelsea Police authorities’ refusal to stage the celebration due to non-issuance of licence for the organisers to hold a live performance.

Although the event was billed to start at the carnival ground about 10am, as at 3pm, the organisers, including Femi and Yeni, the two most prominent children of Fela and other band members, were still awaiting approvals from the local licensing authority.

The Guardian sighted Femi and Yeni but they were not available for comments as at the time of filling this report as the management was busy pulling strings and awaiting the outcome of their request to stage the event.

However, things started unfolding around 2pm when The Guardian approached one of the policemen guarding the stage. He said: “As far as we know, there’s no event taking place here, because the licence to hold a live performance expired yesterday.”

When told that Felabration was supposed to hold from 10am, he said: “Maybe you have more correct information than ours. As far as we know, there was a live performance here yesterday, but that licence has expired. Nothing is taking place today, there’s no licence for the performance and we’ve not been told otherwise.”

A UK-based member of the Fela management team later said they were trying to sort out the license issue but they were still waiting as at 2.50pm to see if the people in charge would do something.

When asked when the organisers were supposed to have made the application, he said applications were usually processed about six months before the event.

Meanwhile, as at 3.15pm, there was still no possibility of holding the event, as one of the managers started dismantling the stage and moving the instruments away from stage.

When asked if the licensing issue had been resolved, he simply said: “It’s not happening”.A visibly disappointed member of the team quipped: “l’m glad l’m going to Lagos for the proper Felabration in October.”

Reacting to the development, Femi said: “We trusted people who live in the UK and are supposed to know the rules but they let us down and we can’t even find them to tell us the truth.“We have learnt a big lesson but we assure all lovers of Felabration that next year will be stronger and better.”

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Fela Anikulapo Kuti