The Beat Stops for Ras Kimono at 60

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By Chiemelie Ezeobi

The musical rhythm of life ended yesterday for popular reggae artiste, Ekeleke Elumelu, popularly known as Ras Kimono, as he passed on after a brief discomfort. He was 60.

Known for hit songs like ‘We no want’ and ‘Rum-Bar Stylée’, released in his debut album Under Pressure in 1989, the reggae legend was said to have complained on Saturday night about feeling discomfort and was rushed to a hospital in Ikeja, Lagos.

He was said to have been later taken to Lagoon Hospital on the Island, where he eventually died.

He was a member of Jastix, a group that was made up of Majek Fashek, Amos Mc Roy and Blackrice Osagie, before he went solo and released his first album, ‘Under Pressure.’

Delta State born Kimono’s path with music crossed while he was a student at Gbenoba Secondary School, Agbor and after school joined the Jastix, a Lagos based musical group.later as a member of the Jastix Reggae group.

According to Wikipedia, “His music was greatly influenced by the poverty, inequality and hardship he witnessed in his early life.

“His solo debut album Under Pressure released on the Premier Music label in 1989, propelled him to instant continental stardom.

“He later released a string of hit albums, touring all over Africa, Europe and the United States, promoting his brand of reggae music.

“He won several awards, including the Nigeria Music Awards, Fame Music Awards and many more.

“In 2010, he was still performing to a loyal fan-base of all ages and his music is still played on radio, throughout West Africa. Kimono served a long apprenticeship on the Nigerian music circuit, experimenting with a number of styles, before making his late 1980s breakthrough as a reggae singer.

“His strongly polemical 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.”

Reacting to the news of the death of the reggae star, former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, and his Delta State counterpart, Chief James Ibori, said his demise was a great loss to the music industry.

For instance, Obi who said it was not up to two weeks he met Kimono at a function, where he expressed his wish to meet with him in the future, followed by the normal exchange of phone numbers, said he was saddened by his death.

He described him as one musician whose songs conveyed meaning even when they were pleasant to the ears.

Calling on budding musicians to imitate his likes that played music with passion, he prayed for eternal repose of his soul.

Similarly, Ibori described Kinomo’s death as a big blow to him personally, Delta State, Nigeria and the entire globe.

In a statement by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, the former Delta State governor said, “Kimono was a gifted revolutionary who applied his immense musical talent and impressive energy to make not just Nigeria but the entire world a better place.

“I have known Ras Kimono for a very long time. While I was Delta State Governor from 1999 to 2007, the musician remained close to me all through. He would often visit me and I was open to whatever advice he had to offer. I also enjoyed a warm personal relationship with him. He would often come along with one or two of his fellow musicians and would throw banters on end.

“Kimono was one of those who kept the flag of Delta State flying as the talent hub of Nigeria, – thorough going professionals, gifted musicians, actors and actresses, sports people, comedians, intellectuals, top polity-enhancing bureaucrats, immensely talented youths who excel in all wholesome fields.”

Ibori added, “Nigeria will never forget Ras Kimono; for me, his memory will always have a warm place in my heart for he was a dear friend who remained faithful through thick and thin, and who brought pride, not just to his Onocha-Olona town, but to the good people of Delta State.”

Ibori sent his condolences to Kimono’s family, and prayed that Almighty God will grant his soul eternal rest.

Also reacting to the demise of the reggae star, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, commiserated with the music industry, his family and friends.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, Okowa sent condolences to the music industry and the Onicha Olona community in the state over the loss.

He described the deceased as a true music legend whose songs entertained Nigerians in the 80s.

The statement read: “I received with sadness the news of the passing away of Ras Kimono, a great reggae legend. He will be remembered for his hit song “Rumbar Stylee.”

“I join lovers of reggae music to mourn this great loss. He belonged to an era of great reggae music exponents in Nigeria.”

The governor noted that Kimono spent all his life promoting good governance through reggae music, good entertainment and healthy community relations.

“As one of the legends of reggae music, the governor commends Kimono for contributing to the development of music in Nigeria, and sustaining his interest in the music industry even in old age by participating in several music concerts.”

Okowa affirmed that the music industry in Nigeria benefited from the contribution of the late musician, who also mentored many younger Nigerian musicians.

He prayed that God will accept the soul of the departed, and comfort the family he left behind.