The death of Nigerian singer-songwriter, guitarist and reggae music lord, Majek Fashek, in New York, America, last week threw Nigerians into a nostalgic mood. It brought into memory the exact picture of a musical icon who the country lost to the icy pincers of death.
Reports of his passage sauced his strides on the dancehall with near-magical exploits while he reigned. As he scintillated the audience with his hugely celebrated multiple award-winning single, Send down the rain, either coincidentally or through an inexplicable magical realism, raindrops suddenly began to well down from the face of the firmament.
Thrown into sudden limelight by his 1988 album entitled Prisoner of Conscience, a string of awards came the way of the man now dubbed The Rainmaker. He was exceedingly talented and blessed with a vocal resemblance of another reggae great, Jamaican Robert Nesta Marley, also known as Bob Marley.
Majek released some highly rated songs which got his African audience nostalgic of the passage of Marley all over again, and concluding that he could effectively musically fill the void of the Caribbean musical idol’s untimely passage. Songs like the highly philosophical My Guitar where Majek evocatively glamourized the imperishability of this musical instrument, suggesting that it would still be alive, even when heaven and heart pass away, gave the musician a compositional rating of note.
So also his re-rendition of Marley’s old spiritual song, Redemption Song, which captured the plights of African freedom fighters and the hope of a great future, in spite of how the contributions of these fighters had been flung aside by rewriters of African history. Fashek however carved out his own unique blend from the mimicry of reggae music that was beginning to come out of emerging Nigerian musicians of the time. Such crew of that time ranged from Terra Kota, Evi Edna Ogholi, Mandators and later, Ras Kimono. His own musical blend he proudly named Pangolo which was decidedly a fine brew of rock and reggae.
As Fashek’s renown began to spread like bushfire, so also was his rumoured pastime for drug consumption. Gradually, the handsome young man with huge promise of lighting Nigeria’s name on the global musical firmament got enmeshed in drug addiction which began to hugely affect his availability for musical shows and even ultimately, his talent.
Between the time he came into limelight in 1988 and the time he passed on last week, Fashek’s active musical years were a mere conservative half of the 32 years that his name was hoisted on dancehall list of notables. In 2015, news of his bankruptcy filled the air which synchronized with that of his admission into a drug rehab centre in Abuja. During this period, the picture of Majek that hopped up in the media and that many encountered when they came across him was that of a man who needed immediate help.
He looked haggard, forlorn and ostensibly seriously battling ill-health, alongside a dangerous pastime of drugs consumption.
Friends rallied round him and attended to his hospitalization need. In the midst of this, in September last year, rumours of his passage filled the stratosphere, which was immediately dispelled. Those who staved off the rumour however confirmed that he was critically ill and was in a London infirmary. By the time he passed on June 2, 2020 in New York City at 57, it was revealed that he battled, alongside his drug rehabilitation binge, esophageal cancer.
I went into this long musical biography of Majek Fashek to be able to establish that in his death, Nigeria had lost a musical gem to a consistent cancerous affliction among musical stars called drug addiction. Though there is an implosion of drug addiction among Nigerian youths, probably raised high by the consistent hopelessness that the youth can vividly see, rather than a bright horizon, drug consumption has, from time immemorial, being the bane of Nigerian music and musicians. It is an affliction that didn’t just start yesterday; it has dragged many notable Nigerian musicians down the sepulcher in their scores.
There has been this subsisting notion – notorious even outside the shores of Nigeria – that drug consumption contributes highly to artistic inspiration. While scientific studies locate a liaison between these two, no study has been able to strictly confine inspiration strictly to drug consumption. In other words, there have been artists who oscillated at the topmost height of their careers but who did so while maintaining wide social distancing from drugs.
What this means is that, yes drugs can be enhancer of inspiration, other less-dangerous pastimes can evoke even higher inspirations as well. As successful artistes exist/existed who were tied to the apron strings of drugs, you could count artistes of even equal number who were permanently in dissonance with drugs.
In my book, Ayinla Omowura: Life and Times of an Apala Legend, I drew on a canvas the tragic Shakespearean life of Ayinla, an equally highly talented Yoruba musician whose life was cut short in his prime. While drug consumption, which he was notorious for, like Majek, couldn’t be strictly isolated as cause of his death, it was obvious that if Ayinla had escaped the violence that eventually took his life, another death lurked in the backyard for him in his unconscionable drugs addiction.
There is no gainsaying the fact that many of today’s musicians are enmeshed in a binge of drugs consumption. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Orlando Owoh and many other departed musicians, are some of the superlative artistes who were notorious consumers of drugs. Slightly over a year ago, the name of hip-hop singer, Davido was caught in a messy puddle of drug allegation when some of his friends were caught with the substance, a pastime that claimed the lives of some of them. For the Davido gang in the musical and showbiz world, it is almost an anathema not to be involved in the culture of drugs which I once dubbed the water bottle culture.
This has proved to be the graveyard of many in this category.
As I penned this lamentable end of the glittering star, Majek, I remembered another musical star close to my heart which dimmed unceremoniously. It is the tragedy of the life of Brenda Fassie, a highly talented South African singer, so talented that the great Nelson Mandela was not only fascinated by her song and danced with her on the dancehall, the Madiba and million others, including this writer, were her fans.
Born November 3, 1964 in Langa, Cape Town, Brenda, like Majek, was a wonder to watch. Her album, Memeza (Shout) which was released in 1997, is rated as the apogee of her musical success. It went platinum on the first day of its release. After Yvonne Chaka Chaka, arguably no musician from that country possessed her waltz and voice. She also made a huge contribution to Miriam Makeba’s famous hit, Sangoma, as well as Harry Belafonte’s anti-apartheid song, Paradise in Gazankulu. She was once voted 17th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.
Unfortunately, Brenda was a suicidal drug addict and addictively wedged to lesbianism.
Brenda was not only talented, she possessed the tantrums of divas, so much that the Time magazine dubbed her the Madonna of the Townships. The world however began to notice hiccups in her life when her weird passion spilled into limelight in 1995. Brenda was found in a hotel room with the remains of her lesbian partner, who passed on during an orgy. She had died of apparent drug overdose. Brenda herself must have gone in and out of a rehab for about 30 times and on one occasion, sure she had overcome drugs, screamed, “I’m going to become the Pope next year. Nothing is impossible!” A few years after, Brenda reportedly collapsed in her brother’s arms, flung her last cocaine straw on the kitchen floor of her home in Buccleuch, fell into a coma and died on May 9, 2004, shortly after suffering from a brain damage. Post mortem report even claimed she was HIV-positive.
Today, hundreds of musicians and emerging stars, especially in Nigeria, are trapped in waltz of drugs. Their excuse is that it is a performance-enhancer. They however fail to come to terms with two facts: one, that you could perform resplendently without drugs and second, drugs could cut your life short at the cusp of stardom.
This is the life of Majek Fashek; a star who lit his own candle in the wind.
Why I did the track ‘Adura’ —Sean Dampte
Afropop singer, Sean Dampte, who recently dropped a single entitled: ‘Adura’, which is increasingly gaining a lot of airplay in and outside the country, in this interview by MegaIcon, talks about his music career and why he recorded the track ‘Adura’. Excerpts:
- What got you into music in the first place?
I have been in music so long that I cannot say particularly why I am into music other than it gives me joy and fulfilment to be part of the culture. I guess I can confidently say it must be the love for music itself.
- The brand Sean Dampte is gathering great momentum in the music scenes, especially in the UK and Nigeria. How do you feel about that?
I am humbled to say the least but in all honesty there is still much work to be done. I am grateful to my team, friends, family, Awoodahites and everyone that is part of this journey.
How did you start and push the brand to this applauding level?
Like I said earlier, I am humbled to see how far we have come. The most important thing for me and for everyone for that matter is the resilience that you possess. I started by believing in myself and ability and over time, loads of people started to see I would not be going anywhere and began to take the brand Sean Dampte serious. It’s been a long journey, but we are thankful.
- How would you describe the music that you typically create?
I like to call what I do Afro-Calypso but ultimately it is part and parcel of the AfroPop vibe with loads of other cultures present.
How does your work comment on current happenings in the social and political circles?
Yea it’s been and still a trying time overall and I cannot shy away from the happenings. With that said, that is one of my reasons for the single ‘Adura’ just to point out that only prayer can uplift us. And we must always continue to pray.
Your manager is white, while you are black. How do you feel given the recent uproar about racism against the black race?
Personally, I understand where and how the current uproar affects the psyches, however it is never about white versus black but rather about us, from a black background, being treated equally and respected.
I support the #BlackLivesMatter movement wholeheartedly and willingly believe in what we trying to achieve.
- Where and when do you get inspired to write your lyrics, inside the plane or while talking a walk?
Inspiration for me comes standard and I am actually grateful for my team. It happens anywhere and when that happens, you can bet am on to my team. We working always to get the best our to everyone. My key producers Joey Benks, JayOcean and Jomane have been fantastic. Sometimes 1 AM, 2 AM we are still up working across continents. Hahahaha
Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
I do sing in the shower but it’s never the same song. Although I have been singing Adura for the last couple of days and I am sure you know why. Very uplifting I find it.
- Most people believe nowadays artistes don’t undergo much stress to blow unlike the days when there was no internet or social media when musicians had to go from one town to another to perform. But now it seems easy as many music talents have blown via social media?
It is really difficult to comment on that but one cannot undervalue the effect of social media and technology as a whole. The truth is that the challenge is still there and more importantly it has opened up the opportunities for more talents to be able to showcase themselves and direct their musical career.
Where have you performed? Which artiste have you performed with?
I have performed at a host of events to say the least – But in the last two years I have been on stage with Wizkid at the YCee concert, Falz the Bahd Guy, Davido all in the United Kingdom, Kizz Daniel in Amsterdam to mention a few.
- Which is your favourite song to perform from your songs?
In truth, I enjoy performing to all of my songs at every opportunity I get. Considering I enjoy listening to good music. However, if it were to happen that I was put on the spot and had to perform one, I would most probably choose Marcelina – it’s a very different vibe that gives.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
There are loads of great artistes and musicians out there to say the least and that follows that I probably would admire a lot of them. But k
- What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Hahahahahaha! Seriously …… that alone is enough to get one into more trouble wouldn’t you agree! Awoodahites are always right! Let’s just say that is it.
°What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Wow! I personally find every advice useful at all times. But what my dad always told me growing up was that talent in anything is never enough to excel – so you must work harder, pray harder and dream bigger!
- If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
That in itself would be a monumental task for one person to take upon him or herself. Hahahahaha, I would only want more to be done to protect the artistes and their investors really. No one likes their work to be infringed upon and no one likes to be cheated. So yea, protect all stakeholder rights as much as humanly possible.
- If you could go open a show for any artiste, who would it be?
Hahahahaha, I have been on stage with most Nigerian Artistes and all so maybe for me now, having to open up for Drake in this moment would do it.
- You once said in an interview that you almost killed yourself due to depression. How did you get over it?
It was a dark place to be in. And it’s not somewhere I like to visit. But one generally needs to keep on focusing on the good things and love for family. It is important to keep in contact with close family and friends and speak out. That works for me and hopeful it helps others do who struggle with it.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
I mean all my Awoodahites know how we do now! We plenty like stars! Life Money Happiness crew. We keep on keeping on. I love my Awoodahites and they love me too!
What’s next for you?
Yea it’s been an interesting year to say the least and following all the great reviews we have had for my hit single ‘Adura’ – I think it’s time I let people into my world and so will be dropping my Sophomore EP on August 21 titled “Awoodah Rising: Man Like Sean Dampte”
Make sure you look out for it!
‘COVID-19 is real’, says Peter Okoye after tested positive
Nigerian pop-star, Peter Okoye has disclosed that he and his family tested positive for COVID-19.
Peter Okoye, in a live session on his verified Instagram page on Saturday said, “It took me a lot of courage to say this.
“For weeks, I was in prison in my own house. I was sick. I was COVID-19 positive. It took me a lot of courage to say this. I caught the virus.
“I used to think this whole virus thing was a joke and I took it for granted.”
Speaking further, Okoye also revealed that his daughter and wife were later tested positive, including his cook and one of his nannies.
The former P-square group member further informed that he and his family have now tested negative after treatment.
“If you think this whole virus is fake or you don’t have anyone that you know, I am telling you now that it is real,” Okoye said.
Why I’m yet to remarry, 20 years after my husband’s demise – Asewo to re mecca
Far famed Nollywood actress, Yeye Toyin Adegbola, popularly addressed as ‘Ajoke Ashewo to re Mecca’ by her numerous fans has attributed the need to prioritize children as her reason for refusing to get married again since her husband’s demise, over 20 years ago.
Ajoke Ashewo to re Mecca’ also stressed the need for mothers to establish closer relationships with their children, particularly the girl child, without shying away from adequate sex education.
She recommended castration as the appropriate punishment for rapists in Nigeria.
The veteran actress, who featured on Parrot Xtra Hour aired on Space Fm, Ibadan on Tuesday admonished parents to always encourage and support their children in their desired career choices.
When asked about her stage name, the actress laughed, explaining that she got it from a role she acted in a movie.
“There was a time I went to buy some things at Dugbe Market in Ibadan and a particular woman started shouting ‘Ashewo’, you know, it was so embarrassing. I found it offensive initially but I just had to get used to it eventually. Besides, this is what I’m getting paid for”.
She attributed her seeming absence in movies in recent times to growth, explaining that she now carefully selects roles before accepting to feature in movies.
While speaking on other means of livelihood, the actress disclosed her involvement in politics at a time, noting that the Osun state Governor at the time, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had invited her to serve the people, because of her many social responsiblity roles even as an actress.
On upcoming projects, she assured her fans of exciting projects as soon as the pandemic is over, one of which would capture her most embarrassing moment, when she was detained at Iyagunku, Ibadan police station for about nine days, after the police alleged that her vehicle was used to assassinate somebody.
She advised upcoming actors to be willing to undergo intense training, adding that there is no shortcut to long lasting success.
Yeye Toyin Adegbola also took time to speak about her role so far in getting Nigerians to be aware of the deadly nature of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I have several short productions that I uploaded to sensitize Nigerians on COVID-19. Nobody paid me to do it. Nigerian governments at all levels, as far as I am concerned has not approached any actor or actress to officially have input in the battle to stop the spread of the pandemic”, the actress said.
She later went ahead to pay glowing tributes to Pa Tubosun Odunsi and Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello) for the roles they played in her life and for contributing to her success as a professional actress.
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