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Celebrating musical legend Ras Kimono

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A month after he celebrated his 60th birthday, the news of his demise hit the airspace, Nigerian
iconic reggae artist Ras Kimono whose debut album, ‘Under Pressure,’ was a big hit in the
Nigerian music scene in 1989.
Before he released his solo album, he was in a group called The Jastix along with Amos McRoy
and Majek Fashek. His music was greatly influenced by the poverty, inequality and hardship he
witnessed in his early life. He released his solo debut album Under Pressure on the Premier
Music label in 1989, which propelled him to instant continental stardom.
The album had hits such as ‘Under Pressure,’ ‘Natty Get Jail’ and the massive hit ‘Rhumba
Style.’ He later released a string of hit albums, touring all over Africa, Europe and the United
States, promoting his brand of reggae music.
He won several awards, including the Nigeria Music Awards, Fame Music Awards and many
more. In 2010, he was still performing to a loyal fan-base of all ages and his music is still played
on radio throughout West Africa.
Kimono was born in Ekeleke Elumelu in Delta State, Nigeria, started out his education at
Gbenoba Secondary School, Agbor.
His death came as a shock and big loss to the entertainment industry, but solace will be drawn
from the fact that the late reggae legend left indelible footprints as a passionate artiste who
contributed his quota to the growth of Nigerian music.
The musical legend can also be described as a social crusader and revolutionary who through
his music canvassed a better Nigeria. He wanted his country to be great as he criticised every
regime that was not getting things right with his music.
Reports say that Kimono was scheduled to travel to the United States on Saturday night, but
complained that he was not feeling too well. He was rushed to a hospital in Ikeja, from where
he was referred to another hospital on Lagos Island where he died.
In 2013, the legendary singer, who topped music charts in the late 80s and 90s, became a
father again. The good news filtered in that the reggae icon’s girlfriend, Efe had given birth to a
baby girl, bringing the number of Kimono’s children to five (daughters) from three different
women. He was married to Sybil who had three daughters for him.
A lot of Nigerians have been reacting to his death, how he impacted in the industry and his
comparison to Fela.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who described him as an
unforgettable reggae giant, expressed shock and sadness at the passing of the globally-
acclaimed reggae star, saying his contributions to that genre of music could never be forgotten.
In a statement, the minister extended his condolences to the family, friends and fans of the late
artiste, and to the entire Nigerian music industry for losing a foremost proponent of reggae, a
prominent campaigner for a better life for the people and a patriot.
He said Kimono would be remembered for his contributions to the elevation of reggae, his love
of the masses, his life of discipline and service to humanity.

“Kimono helped to blaze the trail for the phenomenal growth of the Nigerian music industry,
and he was a worthy mentor to the younger generation of Nigerian musicians. His legacy will
surely endure,” Mohammed said.
He prayed that God would grant his family the strength to bear their loss and grant repose to
the soul of the departed.
Also reacting to Kimono’s death, former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori in a
statement entitled ‘A Gifted Revolutionary,’ described the death of the musical icon as a big
blow to him, Delta State, Nigeria and the entire world.
Ibori said: “Kimono was a gifted revolutionary, who applied his immense musical talent and
impressive energy to make not just Nigeria but the entire world a better place.”
In a statement by his media assistant, Tony Eluemunor, Ibori said of the legendary musician: “I
have known Ras Kimono for a very long time. While I was Delta State governor from 1999 to
2007, the musician remained close to me all through. He would often visit me and I was open to
whatever advice he had to offer.
“Ras Kimono was one of those who kept the flag of Delta State flying as the talent hub of
Nigeria; a thorough going professionals, gifted musicians, actors and actresses, sports people,
comedians, intellectuals, top polity-enhancing bureaucrats, immensely talented youths who
excel in all wholesome fields.
“He was a dear friend who remained faithful through thick and thin, and who brought pride,
not just to his Onocha-Olona town, but to the good people of Delta State,” Ibori added.
Also reacting, Senator Dino Melaye on his Twitter page wrote: “what a dark day!
“Death why! Why! My brother and my friend. Legend Ras Kimono rest in peace. What a black
day! What an unceremonious exit! I love you and will miss you. Sad sad sad!”
Also, the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, through his media aide, Valentine
Obienyem, said he met Ras Kimono at a function about two weeks ago, where he expressed his
longing to meet with him in the future. Obi described him as one musician whose songs
conveyed meaning even as they were pleasant to the ears.
Chairman of the Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, Mr Tony Okorojiequally lamented the
demise of the reggae legend, saying "right now I am talking to you from the Lagoon Hospital,
and I can inform you that Ras Kimono is no more.
“His death came as a shock, because I spoke with him yesterday. He will be terribly missed, as
he was not just a board member of COSON but a personal friend who gave me 100 percent
support.
“He was supposed to travel to the United States today before he complained of a minor illness
last night.”
Our correspondent also spoke to some well-meaning Nigerians. Mr. Ardo said “his impacts are
numerous but cannot be compared to Fela. Ras kimono is indeed a legend by all standards.
Many people never believed he was Nigerian; they thought he was a Jamaican. As for his
impact in the Nigerian music industry, he was a legend to many reggae artistes.”
Ashuedu said comparing Ras Kimono to Fela is like an IPhone and Tecno: “Ras Kimono was a
good artist but not as much as Fela because Fela was a legend, it’s like comparing an IPhone
and Tecno Cx. Fela is an IPhone X while Ras Kimono was a Tecno Cx. No Nigerian artist has
made impact like Fela because fela dealt more on political and religious loop holes.”

Mr. Ugono said “I am sad about his demise; he is a legend quite alright. He was a good artist
and has influenced many upcoming artist especially those in the reggae genre but he cannot be
compared to fela in any way.”
Mr. Egbuiba said “he used to preach about the need for a better Nigeria. His main point was
that every regime in Nigeria that was bad. He said the truth which was not what they wanted to
hear. Both fela ansd Ras have good songs. Fela’s song dealt with the bad government which he
always criticized in his songs and made the world know about the rot in Nigerian government.
Ras Kimono on the other hand sang about a better future for Nigeria. Both are good but can’t
be compared, they have different genres”
Mr. Dafe Ekariko said “they are not in the same level not at all; Fela is internationally
recognized with afro beat musicians. Fela was loved by whites, even the current black American
musician’s pay tribute to fela. His show is being hosted by the Broadway show in the U.S, while
Ras Kimono was more of a Nigerian musician than of African influence. His style of music
though rhythm of reggae didn’t have much wave abroad. I learnt he collapsed and died.
“Fela was more of a revolutionary musician, whose music was more prophetic, telling us of the
ills of government and what they ought to do but had decided to neglect. He spoke widely
against corruption that was eating deep into the fabric of the government of the day and of
course almost every Nigerian. Fela style and sound beat or rhythm was purely original; his
choreography dancers were captivating in their performances.”
Music band, Bantu said, “Thank you Ras Kimono for the great music and positive vibes. You
never had any airs around you, always approachable, always generous to a fault. It was a
privilege to have performed and shared the stage with you. Our thoughts and prayers go to
your daughter, Oge Kimono and your family. Rest in power, lion.”
Kimono's genre of music, ‘Rum-Bar-Dub,’ is a mixture of reggae and the traditional highlife
music; and he used it to fight societal ills, crusading against all forms of oppression,
maladministration and other social maladies. He exploited his album, ‘What's Gwan,’ to draw
attention to the hunger, injustice and unemployment ravaging Nigeria. His impact in the
Nigerian music industry was huge. He raised the fight against Apartheid in South Africa to the
next level via his album, ‘Kill.’

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