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Jah Why? – Majek Fashek Mourns Ras Kimono

Nigerian reggae music legend, Ras Kimono (Ekeleke Elumuelu), died yesterday morning, weeks after turning 60, at a private hospital in Lagos, where he was rushed to after complaining of feeling funny.

Ras Kimono was said to have concluded plans to travel to the United States last Friday before complaining of feeling funny.

According to reports, the legendary reggae artiste suddenly slumped and was rushed to a hospital in Ikeja, from where he was taken to Lagoon Hospital on the Island and later confirmed dead.

Kimono was initially married to Cybil, who had a set of twins in Nigeria, before they later separated in USA.

Kimono, a revolutionary singer, last public outing was at Sir Shina Peters 60th birthday celebration at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island.

His reggae peer, Majek Fashek’s words say a lot.

He wrote: “Ras Kimono why? Too soon Kimono my brethren (sic).

“RIP! I’m short of words; our last meetings was for you to meet with my manager, Uzo, in America and death took you away.

“Forever in my heart. I’m gonna miss you…Jah why?”

Kimono, born in Nigeria on May 9, 1958, served a long apprenticeship on the Nigerian music circuit, experimenting with a number of styles, before making his late 80s breakthrough as a reggae singer, dominating the music industry in Nigeria in the late 80s.

He started his career as a student at Gbenoba Secondary School, Agbor, Delta State and later as a member of the Jastix Reggae Ital. Majek Fashek, Amos McRoy Jegg and Black Rice Osagie were also members of the group.

Together with his massive dread reggae band, Kimono released his debut album, Under Pressure, in 1989.

Accompanied by the popular single, ‘Rumba Stylee,’ this revealed both a Jamaican and native African influence (the latter particularly evident in his ‘patois’ delivery, as frequently employed by Fela Kuti to communicate with the urban underclass).

His strongly polemic lyrics produced album sales of over 100,000 copies, and a fervent following for his advocacy of social change.

“What’s Gwan” proved even more successful, with the topics selected including legalisation of marijuana, and the need for Africans to intellectually repel colonialism and its arbitrary boundaries between tribes.

Most controversially, he was not averse to naming directly those in power he saw as synonymous with backdoor imperialism.

He “disappeared” from the scene after travelling to the US, where he spent six years.

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