Nigerian Reggae legend, Ras Kimono, passed on Sunday morning, leaving the music community in mourning, as many reflected on his impact on the entertainment scene.
Kimono who died at the Lagoon Hospital, Ikoyi, Lagos, recently celebrated his 60th birthday.
He is survived by his wife, and daughter, Oge Kimono, also a musician.
According to his one-time manager and friend, Eddy Lawani, the musician was to travel to the United States the previous day, but had complained of not feeling well on Friday.
He was then taken to a hospital in Ikeja from where he was referred to Lagoon Hospital, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Famed for his rub-a-dub style, Ras Kimono’s death occurred about a month after he celebrated his 60th birthday.
Born Ekeleke Elumelu Onwubuya on May 9, 1958, Kimono who hailed from Delta State released his debut album with his Massive Dread Reggae Band, ‘Under Pressure’ while signed to Premier Music in 1989. He had started his musical career as a student of Gbenoba Secondary School, Agbor, in present day Delta State and later joined a group called Jastix Reggae Ital along with Majek Fashek, Amos McRoy and Black Rice Osagie.
Known not to shy away from political activism, Ras Kimono who once said he had lived as a vegetarian for 37 years, used his songs to address socio-political situations in the country.
With hits like ‘Under pressure’, ‘Rasta get jail’, ‘Rhumba style’, the album catapulted Ras Kimono to stardom. It set the tone as he released more songs and started touring Africa, Europe and the U.S.A. He also won several awards, including the Nigerian Music Awards, and Fame Music Awards.
His death came as a shock to friends like Chief Tony Okoroji, Juju music maestro, Sir Shina Peters who had joined several others for a meeting to discuss his burial plans at the time of this report.
In a tribute to the late musician, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), on Sunday released a statement saying, ‘COSON deeply regrets to announce the passing on of a front-line member of our board, great African and great musician, the reggae toaster, the great Ras Kimono Onwubuya.’ Also,
entertainment promoter and lawmaker, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, tweeted: ‘I feel so sad hearing about the death of reggae legend, Ras Kimono. He redefined the face of music and there will be none like him. He will be dearly missed.’
Senator Dino Malaye too tweeted: ‘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,’ he said.
Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde also posted Ras Kimono’s picture on his Instagram handle, with the caption, ‘RIP Ras Kimono.’
Media guru, Taiwo Obe, tweeted: ‘On Sunday, 3 February, a bubbly Ras Kimono, accompanied by his first cousin, Austin, visited me to discuss a show he was going to have at the Freedom Park towards his 60th b’day later in April. We had an engaging evening. Some mins ago, @qedng broke the news of his death.’
At the deceased 60th birthday party which took place at Times Square, Ikeja, Lagos were celebrities like Sir Shina Peters, Chief Tony Okoroji, Eddy Lawani, Daddy Showkey, Eddy Remedies, Kenny Saint Brown, Oritz Wiliki, Alariwo of Africa, Righteous Man, Bisi Olatilo and others.
At the party, Daddy Showkey revealed how Ras Kimono made him a successful musician by giving him the chance to perform at Floating Buka and blessing his first CD at the late musician, Omole, Lagos residence.
The ‘Galala’ singer also said Ras Kimono taught him to perform live and facilitated how he took a flight for the first time to share a stage with him in Abuja.
After a hiatus, Kimono in 2017, returned to the music scene with a new single, ‘Blessed Africa’ which critiqued the continent’s ironic poverty, despite its rich deposit of human and natural resources.
“We are in a situation where Africans are poor even though we have plenty in terms of good soil, crude oil that has become a curse to the nation,” Ras Kimono said in an interview.
“We also have intellectuals that would prefer to take their intellects elsewhere other than Nigeria. We have musical talents that are being exploited and left in penury, our pensioners cannot eat the fruit of their labour, our schools are in horrible conditions, we have half-baked graduates who cannot complete a statement. What is really wrong with a continent that is really Blessed by God?” He queried.