The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) and the Nigerian reggae music community have paid glowing tributes to Reggae music icon, Ras Kimono, at a memorial lecture to mark the first anniversary of his passing.
Organised by COSON, the memorial lecture, delivered by Duro Oni, a professor, was held at the COSON House in Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday.
Ras Kimono, whose birth name was Oseloke Augustine Onwubuya, died on June 10, 2018, after falling ill at the Lagos airport, on his way to the USA.
He was 60.
In his lecture titled ‘Revolutionary Music for Equality and Justice’, Mr Oni, described the reggae icon as a visionary musician who made an impact with socially conscious music.
“He lived among people, so he could see their tribulation and sufferings. To Ras Kimono, music transcended singing and dancing and just dancehall. He believed music was a weapon to fight injustice and ills in society. He was not like other dance hall artistes, he dealt with truth and faced the government squarely. He was also totally dedicated to COSON’s cause.”
The singer’s daughter, Oge Kimono, also announced that she was set to host a memorial concert and also launch her debut album titled ‘Good Ole Days’, dedicated to her late father’s memory.
She said, “The event is to commemorate the one year anniversary of Ras Kimono’s death and formally launch my taking over of Ras Kimono’s Massive dread band.
The album will tell the story of the good old days where everything was nice and smooth, good nightlife, and good music. Billed to perform at the memorial event are star acts like Sound Sultan, Ego, Righteous Man, Joel, Buchi, and Oritz Williki.”
Meanwhile, a Ras Kimono Development Foundation will be launched in Asaba, Delta State on June 15, his associates have announced.
A statement signed by Godfrey Osakwe on behalf of the singers’ associates said the proprietor of Giddy’s Place, a hospitality and entertainment resort in Asaba, Gideon Nwaomu, is spearheading the launch of the foundation, with the support of Kimono’s family.
Augustine Ugah, Kimono’s cousin and a member of the central working committee said that the initiative is in fulfillment of a vision nursed by the late reggae maestro to create a platform for young and talented Nigerians to nurture and advance their creative skills.
He said, “Growing up, Kimono knew what it meant to live in absolute poverty and deprivation, and therefore craved for others not to witness such. It was not a surprise that his music was often said to be greatly influenced by poverty, inequality and the hardship he witnessed in his early life”.
He added that the foundation’s main objective is to provide a forum for the re-orientation process of youths in our communities so as to bring about positive mind-sets for self-discovery.
“The foundation seeks to provide a brighter future for every child in Nigeria and Africa by nurturing their artistic gifts for personal development and national cohesion through music; and to foster self-esteem, dignity, community and civic responsibility among others. The Long term objective will be an establishment of a resource centre with facilities for Exhibition, Museum, Recording Studio, Hall/Amphitheatre, etc.”
Kimono refused to be held down by the angst of life occasioned by economic deprivations while growing up. He branched into music and soon carved out his own niche in the Nigeria music circle and thereafter grew, into international reckoning up till his demise.
Life and times of Kimono
An advocate of social change, Kimono was known for his patois styled music.
In 1989, his group, Massive Dread Reggae Band, released an album titled, Under Pressure.
He once revealed that he is a vegetarian and has never indulged in any affair that went against his upbringing, including smoking and drinking.
Ras Kimono rose to stardom after the release of his debut album ‘Under Pressure’ in the late ‘80s.
His style of music was significantly influenced by the hardship he reportedly experienced in his early life.
The late reggae music icon won several awards including the Nigeria Music Awards and Fame Music Awards among others.
In October 2017, he dropped a new single after many years of hiatus from the music scene.
His former record label, Premier Records Limited, released the single titled, “Blessed Africa”, digitally. The song is a reflection of what Nigeria and Africa have been going through despite the rich mineral, human and natural resources in the land.
The multi-award winning reggae icon returned to the country in 2010, in an effort to reconnect with his fans.
He released albums in 2009 and 2011. Both albums had impressive receptions.
In a recent interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the star spoke extensively about the reason behind his music hiatus.
One of his daughters, Ogechukwu Onwubuya a.k.a. Oge Kimono has already taken to music, putting out a few reggae singles.
She performed with her late father at the June 2015 edition of Afropolitan Vibes.
His death would be mostly felt by his immediate family, especially his children and wife, Sybil.
The late singer was married to Sybil, who relocated to the United States of America with him but did not return to Nigeria with the singer.
Sybil, an accomplished dancer, currently resides in America.
They met at the University of Lagos where he used to go for rehearsals. They got married in 1990 and Sybil served as his manager for many years, even when the couple relocated to the U.S. in the early 2000’s.
He also welcomed a daughter, Dimma, with his manager Efemena Okedi, in 2013. Sadly, she died three months after Ras Kimono passed on.
She was Ras Kimono’s third and closest wife.