BY MOJI FASASI
WITH just a few days to Christmas, the usual traffic bottle-neck on, Lagos Island is at its worst as the unending stream of pedestrians struggle with hordes of impatient motorists for space on the congested road.
On this hot December afternoon, the ride from the bustling C.M.S. Bus-Stop to Awolowo Road, Ikoyi assumes a near nightmarish dimension, with vehicles locked in hopeless tangle, each crawling ahead bumper to bumper on the busy road, as the 2-hour ordeal finally gives way to the contrasting serenity of Awolowo Road, the relieved reporter hurries towards the open gates of Jazz 38, one of the most famous Jazz clubs in Africa.
Here in the musical abode of the Kuboyes, the Extended Family band is on recess after the usual crowd-pulling ‘jistings’ and gyrations of the weekend. All is peaceful and quiet again in the vast compound which also houses a’ mini gallery of colourful and exotic paintings depicing various facets of life.
In the cool comfort of the modestly-furnished reception of the Dental Clinic where Dr. Mrs. Frances Kuboye practices as a Dental Surgeon, the reporter sits, awaiting audience with the popular female Jazzist, who was, at that moment, hosting a meeting inside the main building.
Each scenario that arrests the attention of the visitor speaks volumes about the personality of the energetic, and versatile woman who holds her varied interests together under one roof with amazing dexterity.
Ten minutes later, Fran (as she is fondly called) bounces in to receive the reporter, with her manager in tow. The brief introductions made and warm pleasantries exchanged, Fran settles into the next seat and tells the reporter to “fire the questions”, thus setting off the 20-minute interview.
Dressed casually in trendy adire shorts and top, Dr. Mrs. Frances Kuboye dons a pair of glasses and her characteristic braids fall loosely down her shoulders. As she reels out sharp strings of smooth-flowing narrative, spiced with jokes and hearty laughter, she exudes that air of refreshing friendliness and simplicity so distinctively hers. An intelligent, interesting and articulate conversationist, Frances carries you along as she discusses those stimulating topics she’s so familiar with: music, singing, painting, sculpture, art history, the whole gamut.
A descendant of the Ransome-Kuti family, Dr. Frances Kuboye was born in Rochdalle, north of England, on October 22, 1949. She had her primary education at Clifton Church of England School, Carnforth and Lancashire Church of England School. She ther proceeded to Lancaster Girls Grammar School, England, from where she moved to Skipton Girls High School, England where she concluded her secondary education. From there she went to Sherffield University where she qualified as a Dental Surgeon in 1974.
Frances Kuboye came home in 1977 but didn’t get into music until a year later when in 1978, she yielded to the inner urge to sing and promote music. From music she moved gradually into the world of the arts, and by 1980, Frances Kuboye had become so active in the field that it soon became part and parcel of her identity.
Everyday is different for Frances Kuboye, hence there is nothing typical about any day. Her daily activities equally vary, depending on the kinds of regular visitors who come calling sometimes at odd hours. She gets up at 5.30 a.m. to attend to the children’s needs. Breakfast consists mainly of fruits.
The minute she comes down at about 9.30 a.m. the flurry of activities begin in full swing. There are always people to-be seen: artists, musicians, painters, whom she takes joy in promoting. She works in the clinic two days a week and her assistant dentist holds fort for her when her other interests take her out of the clinic. She only eats lunch when she’s hungry; otherwise, she doesn’t eat.
For dinner, Frances Kuboye contents herself with whatever is on the table. After a long day of series of meetings, press conferences, exhibitions, visits to the museum, attending to people, treating patients outside clinic hours, the day may finally end as late as 4 a.m.
First published Saturday, December 25, 1993.