By Osamudiamen Ogbonmwan
The demise of Ukeleke Augustine Onwubuya popular as Ras Kimono came as rude shock to many.The Reggae music icon who ruled the airwaves in the mid 80s and 90s with his peculiar Reggae genre died on Sunday, June 10, 2018 at Lagoon Hospital, Lagos. Reggae lovers and Kimono fans are grief-stricken, with some of them describing June 10th as “Black Sunday”
Stakeholders in the entertainment industry agree Kimono contributed immensely to the music industry in Nigeria as his genre of music put Nigeria in the ranks of nations with global Reggae stars.
When The Source interviewed him a few years ago, the late Reggae star disclosed how his love for music started quiet early in life. According to him after his secondary school education in Gbenoba Secondary School, Agbor, he teamed up with the likes of Majek Fashek, Amos McRoy Jegg and Black Rice Osagie to form a musical group called Jastix Reggae Ital. He further stated that his music was greatly influenced by the poverty, inequality and hardship he witnessed in his early life.
In 1989, Kimono warmed his way into the heart of the people with a hit album titled ‘Under Pressure’ on the Premiere Music label. He was instantly propelled to the status of a star. The album had hits such as “Under Pressure”, “Natty Get Jail” and the massive hit “Rhumba Stylee”.
Despite his successes, in the early years of his solo music career, Ras Kimono left the shores of the country for America with his family. However in 2010 he returned to the country saying he took the decision because he felt he needed to reconnect with his fans. This he did in the way he knew best: Releasing songs in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Last October, he released a single digitally, titled, “Blessed Africa” which didn’t do badly.
His former band mate, Majek Fashek said they were together two days before his death. He lamented: “Ras Kimono why too soon, kimono my brethren? RIP I am short of words, our last meeting three days ago was for you to meet with my Manager, Uzo in America and death took you away. You will forever be in my heart. I am gonna miss you. Jah love you more till we meet again”.
Fahsek explained that three days ago, he and Ras Kimono spoke preparatory to meeting his Manager in New York.
In his own tribute,Skid Ikemefuna described the late Kimono as “a great musician, a lyrical warrior, fighter of injustice and oppression and a quiet and humble person…”
“Great man,humble and amiable,will miss you greatly”, Daddyfresh Onyebuchi Michael said.
For Myke Pam, another Reggae musician, “Kimono’s passing left me in a “choke mode… Coldchoke Hard fe swallow! Goodnight souljah! Rest in power and love!”.
Senator Ben Murrey-Bruce wrote on Twitter “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”.
“Death why! Why! My brother and my friend. Legend Ras Kimono rest in Peace. What a black day! Mourning Kimono, another Senator, Dino Melaye lamented: “What an unceremonious exit. I love you and will miss you. Sad sad sad”.
Tony Okoroji,Chairman of the Copyright society of Nigeria, COSON said he was with the musician by his sick bed a night before his passage.
“He was doing much better. We were talking and the doctor said he would be discharged soon. I was at the airport when a call informed me about his demise. I couldn’t stop shouting. I had to leave the airport and rush to the Lagoon hospital in Ikoyi where I saw my brother looking handsome but lifeless on the bed” he said.
The award- winning music icon until his death was a board member of COSON. Little wonder he was massively celebrated by the organization on the occasion of his 60th birthday on the 10th of May, a day that coincided with the COSON’s Annual General Meeting held at the Sheraton hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
In a statement from COSON, Okoroji said : ” Everyone at COSON is devastated because we all loved Ras Kimono who stood firmly for our cause. From Monday morning, flags begin to fly at half-mast at COSON House in Ikeja. A condolence register will also be opened at COSON House for the many-many lovers of Kimono to personally express their feelings at the loss of the Rub- a- Dub Master. On the many TV screens at COSON House, there will be continuous replay of the many great performances of Ras Kimono including his unforgettable performance at the last COSON Song Awards. I can assure everyone that COSON will ensure that Kimono is buried like the great star that he was and that his memory is never forgotten”.
The superstar artiste also fondly called the Rub-A-Dub master, due to his style of Reggae, is survived by family members, amongst them, five daughters. One of his daughters, Ogechukwu, is following in her dad’s musical footsteps.