Majek’s Short Memories


Charles Novia
I read an interview on THISDAY Newspaper online on Majek Fashek and in one of the questions, the reporter asked him if he had problems with Charles Novia and Azuka Jebose and Majek replied that we defrauded him and went on a rant on how he’s being owed by November Records.

My first reaction was to ignore it. And there are reasons why I ignore first hand anything negative which comes from Majek about me. I remember a few years ago, when he was under the management of a lady called Hajia or something, Majek went on television, perhaps at her instigation, to say he was suing me for $3 million dollars for shooting a movie on him! I laughed and laughed when I saw that interview on television and ignored the sensation it caused.

Pressmen started calling me for days to find out my reaction. I would always say ‘No comment’. But there was one journalist who kept on persisting and would keep on calling and calling for my reaction. He said “the country respects what you did for Majek in bringing him back to limelight with the ‘Little Patience’ album. It’s shocking that he’s talking about suing you for producing a film on him. Please let the world know your reaction.”

I replied him “My friend, what I’m going to say is off the record and I say it to you because we are friends. I am a Bini Man. Majek has Bini blood. He is my elder brother. Fate and divine matrix used me in 2005 to bring him back to the music scene at great expense and risk to my life with his last album. I gave my all to promote that man and that album. My life stopped for years in pushing Majek back to the scene. Do you expect me right now to be exchanging words with him in the papers over a project which he’s aware of? Listen, this brother of mine has issues with his health and my personal code of conduct would never ever make me exchange words with a brother… It’s not proper and it’s not done where I come from, so give me a break please.”

The journalist was touched. He told me later that “when I hung up the phone after you made that statement, tears came out from my eyes. You made sense. You are a human being.”
It’s that same notion I still have till today. Majek Fashek is someone I respect and have managed and worked with for years before I moved on. I will be very careful about having verbal exchanges with him or his new management over things he says about me. November Productions Publicists would professionally make press statements when the need arises.
However, I will just make something clear on a personal level here.

The 2005 ‘Little Patience’ album, released by my record label, November Records, was licensed to my label after due negotiations with Coral Music USA, owned by Charlie D’agostino. November Records paid a tidy sum in dollars for the licensing of that album for the African market. We had a contract signed and the terms of the contract were clearly spelt out. At the signing, Coral Music made it very clear that on no account should personal royalties (if any after we discussed the possibility of the album being pirated) be paid to Majek Fashek from November Productions outside the contract for that album. The contract had a provision for some cents to be paid to Coral Music after net calculations in the advent that the album sold a calculated amount of numbers.

When November Records released the album in 2005 after spending a huge amount on heavy promotions on the project, the like of which had never been seen before for a long time, the album went to the top of the charts for weeks across the country. The release of the album got thousands of copies off the shelves in the first week. However, the album was massively pirated back then. Massively.

I made this known to Charlie D’agostino of Coral Music in a mail and he understood the situation in the correspondences we had, the e-mails I still have. However, out of my love and respect for Majek, who would call me from America to plead for funds for upkeep, I would send him funds and sometimes get Azuka Jebose to do it because we could not bear to see the man in a financial crisis.

In those conversations I made it clear to Majek that we had paid huge licensing fees to Coral Music and he would say he never got a dime from them as the American label deducted his expenses from his sales and concerts, which is a standard process in the music business.

Feeling bad that Majek was in a financial quandary in America while we were heavily promoting his album back here, I decided to help him get money in Nigeria by getting major shows for him on the back of the success of the album.
I got him into the first THISDAY Music Festival in 2006. ..After that event, I got Majek another gig at the 2006 Calabar Carnival in December. He flew back in with Azuka and we all traveled to Calabar for the gig where he performed at the stadium in front of a crowd and an impressed Governor Donald Duke…

Thereafter, more offers for more shows started coming. Because of the fragility of Majek back then and his frail and dishevelled looks, the agreement was that he would only breeze in and breeze out for shows with minimal exposure to the press and public. But in 2008 or thereabouts, Majek unannounced flew into Lagos and decided not to go back anymore. I wasn’t aware of his coming, neither was Azuka. And there was nothing I could do. He had his plans and wanted to do his thing. All the years of PR and image making for him, done to build him back as a major brand, went up in smoke.

It wasn’t long before people and press men started calling me about seeing Majek on the streets and in bars, begging for food and stuff. Somehow, I had become intricately linked with Majek and his personal indiscretions were affecting my corporate and personal brand.

I took in all in my stride but officially severed professional links with Majek Fashek a few months later.
I have gone to this length to narrate some portions of this tale to give a background of my professional and personal relationship with Majek through the years.

He’s still my brother and late 2015 when he was in rehabilitation in Abuja, I saw him at the Abuja airport after we were on the same flight from Lagos and he kept telling everyone that “this is the man who did the magic in my career. He brought out ‘Little Patience’ and put me on billboards.”

I offered to sponsor any music video from his new work for free with no strings attached. ‘Just to help your work. I don’t want anything. It will be my contribution’ I told him. He was excited about it. That offer still stands. Anytime he is ready, all he has to do is to get across to me and the music video directors I have penciled down for the project will take care of it. It’s amusing to now read from him that he was defrauded by November Records. Like I said, …he has short memories. It’s the way of the world. Be that as it may, he’s still my elder brother. But I have moved on.