By Ogbonna Amadi, Entertainment Editor & Bridget Amaraegbu andÂ Aramide Pius
We bring you the concluding story of Keji Hamilton, former drug addict, robber, rapist and former band boy ofÂ the late Afro-Beat King Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Now an ordained pastor of God, Keji shares the gory details of his life in Kalakuta and the Shrine. Enjoy.
So how did you get into drug?
One Sunday afternoon, one guy came to me He said young man I like the way you play. Youâ€™re good. I said thank you.
He said, â€˜you know, young boys like you use something in America which enhances their performance. And I asked what it was. He said cocaine and heroine.Â I told him Iâ€™d never heard of it and Iâ€™m not interested because I was okay with the weed.
The guy said, Look at you, youâ€™re a coward and I said what? You know you donâ€™t call a young man a coward. So I said, let me have it. And he gave me 5 grams of coke and 5 grams of heroine.
The guy is a drug trafficker . His name is Solution but heâ€™s now a pastor inÂ London. He taught me how to cook the cocaine and ways to consume drugs that night and left.
Ha, I didn’t sleep that night. I took the first heat and I went on stage. I was crazy and even somersaulted on stage (laughing) I said, ah! This thing na gbangba, na helele. I waited for the show to end and went back locked myself,Â and took the thing till next day. I was wide awake
This guy supplied me the stuff for three weeks and disappeared.Â That was it, thatâ€™s how I got hooked to hard drugs, until I gave my life to Christ on the 7th of May 1994.Â Seventth of this May will be 16 years since I last touched drug.
Before you left Fela,Â they said you murdered somebody.
I didn’t kill anyone. You know that FelaÂ oppressed us. Letâ€™s say the truth. So I told myself, you can’t takeÂ a man like me to America, lodge me in 4 and 5 star hotels, for three months and I canâ€™t come home with a $1000. Think about it.
You know Fela hated cocaine. When he came back from jail, he asked me,Â â€˜I hear say you dey shack one thingâ€ and I said cocaine.
He said â€œKeji dat thing no good… Oâ€ and I asked why? He said that thing would kill your penis. He said he tasted itÂ once when Steve Wonder came for FESTAC â€˜77.
But I told him I liked it. Secondly, he said it would make you uncoordinated but I didnâ€™t take that it seriously because even he (Fela) wasnâ€™t coordinated.
Does it really affect the penis?
Yes. Once you are with a woman, your penis will harden, immediately the woman touches you, it will fall. This is a fact. Youâ€™ll lose all the strengthÂ to sleep with a woman and youâ€™ll be breathing like a horse.
So, he didnâ€™t chase you out because of your cocaine habit?
No. I played a major role in his band. If you listen to some of his music, youâ€™ll notice that I played up to three instruments. I became indispensable. Fela and Beko fought severally because he (Beko) wanted me sacked. Fela would tell him that he canâ€™t sack me because I held the band together. Aside that, I trained new boys on the keyboard. You now understand why when Wadada was collecting an award, he called my name. He said ‘I be Keji boy’. I taught him too.
Also when we returned from tours, Fela wouldÂ not play for about three weeks to one month. That’s the time I spent training new boys and he was not paying me.
I felt used somehow but when youâ€™re a junkie, you donâ€™t really have an option because staying in the Shrine ensured that drugs kept flowing my way. So it was okay.
Why did you leave then?
One night, we were at a show, Bash Ali began to spray Fela dollars. Then something came to my head and I told myself that since I had been working for this man, he’s the only one that getsÂ the whole money but these dollars are mine. So as BashÂ finished spraying Fela,Â he came to my piano and sprayed two dollars like twenty. I gathered them, put them in my pocket.
Anigboro gathered all the dollars sprayed Fela and as he was coming down, I ordered him to give me the money. He said it was Felaâ€™s money.
I told him, that I would blind him completely. (He had one bad eye).Â He knew me and what I was capable of doing.
Just like that?
You know me. I was the one that beat Bash Ali in the street. Papers had it. Todayâ€™s Choice those days carried it. I beat Bash Ali from Pepple Street to Ikeja Plaza. He was world boxing champion.
How did you beat him?
I used my hand. But he first gave me a punch. TheÂ punch dazed me, took me to whereÂ there was a big stout bottle. I ttok the bottle. I tried to break it on a wall, but it couldn’t. I broke it on my head. As I broke it, Bash panicked. I told him he was dead man.
I put the bottle on my left hand. Bash thought he was in ring. He beganÂ to jump up and down. I told him that when I finish with him, he won’t wear gloves again. He asked me what I could do. I told him I was going to cut the major nerves in his hands. He was afraid. And by this time, his two bodyguards had taken off.
What caused the fight?
He wanted to fight Fela. First, he came to video our performance. I was the one that beats people who wanted to record us without signing. Even in America, I would slap the person, and seize his camera. I did too many thingsÂ for Fela. I was like a thug.
So, back to Anigboro, he gave me the money and I called one of the boys to come and take over the piano. I left the place.
I went to Akporoâ€™s place and told him to cook one gram of heroin for me. I divided it into two, put half in the pipe andÂ began to smoke. I was high. Then I put the other money in my pocket and went back to the Shrine.
When I entered Shrine, IÂ met Goddy who sold ticket. I asked him how much he had sold. He asked me why I asked. I slapped him.Â The guy fell. Then I carried one empty carton of Guinness full ofÂ moneyÂ and left. I said today I must take my own share from Kalakuta.
With the money, I sat down with a cutlass at our junction because I knew Fela would hear what happened at the end of the show. When he heard it, he ordered Anigboro to bring me.
As I sat there, I heard that led a search party.Â As they came close to me, I wiped the cutlass on the tarmac, the thing sparked.Â They stopped. I asked Anigboro what was going on? He said Fela ordered them to bring me. I said, okay. So they went back to Fela and told him what happened. Before they came back again, I had left to see one of my friends Nkiru.
When I got there, she started crying, â€œthis boy, wetin dey do you? Make you sef leave Fela. I told her to keep quiet.
In the morning around 9 am, one of my boys came and told me that Fela said if I came around Shrine, they shouldÂ arrest me .
so,Â IÂ moved in with one girl,Â Ifesinachi, who was staying in one of those girls’ hotels. I stayed with her and the money finished after one week. I started lazying about .
Earlier, I had gone to Onitsha to do some charms. They bathed me with a bucket of blood, gave me human tongue and porridge to eat. They gave me charms and convinced me that I could lock up a whole street and nobody will see me when I come into the street.
So with that I entered that Ikeja plaza and met three of my boys. They said ah! Baba, no go Shrine… .
Didnâ€™tÂ it cross your mind that they saw you, even with the charm?
No, (Laughing) by then I had even forgotten I did a charm. So the boys told me how Fela had called all of them, poured Schnapps on the ground, killed fowl and madeÂ them swear to kill me anywhere they saw me, which they almost did.
So I went to Pepple street. When I got there, everywhere was quiet. You know, all my boys disappeared but I was loittering. So I didnâ€™t understand.
I walked into the Shrine and met a soldier who is atÂ Femi Shrine’s now and I ordered him to give me five jumbo (wraps of Indian Hemp). I called another guy and asked him to collect N100 naira each from all the dealers which he did.
As the boy mould ed the jumbo, I didnâ€™t know that my boys had surrounded me. Remember that they had sworn to an oath.
Because Fela was Babalawo,(herbalist) he had turned their mind against me. Only Enibalomo hid because I saved him when they wanted to burn him with a tyre at Oshodi.
As I waited for my jumbo, somebody tapped me from the back, Baba Keji. I didn’t even knowÂ one of them held one wooden bench. So as I turned, he asked them to beat me. Everywhere was blackinÂ my eyes. I leapt backwards. You know all those karate teachings… I landed on heels, breathed in, and pushed him out.
That was when I saw about 18 guys. It was a fight to death. I beganÂ to began to fight them savagely.
But the more I fought the more they increased, their number . I told myself that these people want to kill me in the Shrine. They began to remove poles, benches, planks, everything and beat me. One boy pulled a dagger, stabbed my leg but I was wearing a Levi Jeans, so the dagger cut the jeans, pierced my skin a little and broke. I was removing all of them.
Before long,Â my hands got swollen and I got dizzy. I didn’t know I was near the gutter. So as one guy wanted to hitÂ my head with an iron rod, I stepped back a little, miscalculated and landed inside the gutter, gbaa.
The boys still followed me and continued hitting my head with rod and iron. They meant to kill me because that was what Fela ordered them to do.
How did you escape that day?
As they were beating me, I started asking myself, so this is how Iâ€™m going to die? These people want to kill me.
Then Yeni and Sola came along in that Femiâ€™s Volkswagen car. As I lay dying in that gutter, I heard Sola shouting, what did Keji do?
Why do you want to kill him? I also heard some of the boys say, â€˜please this is Felaâ€™s business’. Those girls wouldnâ€™t have been able to save me. You know what saved me? It was men of the anti-crime unit.
The next thing I heard were gunshots and one of the police officers asked what I had done to the people, ‘Innocent Warrior wetin you do now?’
The police brought me out from the gutter. By this time, one of my eyes had closed completely, the other one was almost closed. I was bleeding from my ear and nose.
Police said Ah! Ah! Innocent boy, wetin happen now? Shebi you and Fela na friend? I told them not to worry that weâ€™re not friends. I was not his child, Fela won’t treat him like this.
The policemen asked to know where they could drop me. I told them to take me to Felaâ€™s house.
They said why? It was Fela who asked them to beat you and now you want to go and see him?
I said yes, I told them Fela must see me the way I was looking. So they dropped me in Fela’s house. I wasnâ€™t seeing anything, I staggered along, bloodÂ flowing everywhere with all the w ater from the the gutter.
Most times, when I say this story, I weep and Yeni and Femiwould say I should not talk.
Do you know that immediately I appeared at Gbemisola road, everybody took off?
And before I entered the compound, everywhere was dry. I staggered, and climbed, step by step. I want to tell the whole world thatÂ na the gbana and coke wey Fela dey seize for street na im him dey take sleep with girls. So where is the human right he preached about?
Did he administer it on the girls?
Yes, I canâ€™t tell you lies. Fela had his positive side but too many negative sides. If you ask some of the girls, theyâ€˜ll tell you.
Did he see you that day?
He couldnâ€™t see me. When Turbo came out, I told him to go and tell Fela that I want to see him. Turbo went in and told him. And I heard him shouting, I don’t want to see him. Tell him to go away. I don’t want to see him. And I shouted, Fela whether you want to see me or not, I will come back, and I walked out. I came outside, and tried to get a taxi but because of the way I was looking, taxi drivers all ran away until one baba stopped and carried me. When I reached Apena Street, my girlfriend saw me and fainted.
When she woke up, she said letâ€™s go to Randle Hospital, and I said no. Instead ,I told her to go and call one pharmacist down the road. I even gave her money to dash the guy. The guy came and prescribed some pain relievers. For three weeks, I couldnâ€™t open my eyes. If I see lightÂ e go be like say dem stab my eye balls with knife. So I just wore one black shad and sat down, no movement. But after the second week, the eyes began to open but everything still remained blank.
And the drug continued?
No! When Texas, Akala, even Bishop Street weren’t far.
So you were mixing the cocaine with the prescribed drugs?
Oh, yes. The strongest pain reliever is coke. So by the third week, my eyes had gone down but it was still red. Sunday morning, I went to St. Leoâ€™s for Ikeja because it wasÂ the only Church I knew then.Â After service, I went to theÂ Shrine.
And as I reached that Olakekan Junction, all my boys that beat me ran and prostrated, saying- Baba forgive us, na devil.
â€œIf not God, I fwould have killed that day especially the boy that held my leg. The boy is in South Africa now. All of them hugped me. Some were even crying.
As I entered the street, people began to supply me stuffs before I left there that day. I had taken enough. I came go back to the hotel and that was how I met my salvation.
You mean in a brothel?
Yes,Â God and I met, not human being. No human being could preach to me. I started smoking with the Bible in Belgium. When I brought out my hemp which I brought home, I didn’tÂ have Rysler and it was cold. You know all those 5 star hotels have these Gideon International Bibles. So I just tore it and smoked hemp with it.Â I said, ah! This thing sweet.
-O ! And from that day till the day I got born again,Â I smoked every night with Bible before I would sleep.
It tasted better?
Yes,I was in that hotel one Sunday morning when one guy woke up, and told me, ‘Keji come make we go Church’.Â I give the guy two dirty slaps, asked him whether he was mad? What was looking in aÂ Church. I that worshipped Sango. They even wrote it.
Itâ€™s still there now, and Femi has inherited it. The Shrine worship is satanic.
When I slapped the guy, he ran away but came back and dropped more tracts. I picked the tracts. When I woke up, I kept them near the bed and refused to read them. Next Sunday, the guy came but stood very far. When I saw him, I said, ‘if I catch you’… and he ran away.
The guy kept coming and putting tracts until he stopped coming.
On this day May 7th 1994, IÂ went to Texas, bought stuff, came back.Â I heard a kind voice say,Â Keji, if you donâ€™t stop this life style, youâ€™ll die this year. I looked around the room to see who was talking. I lit it, sipped the thing. Old,Â boy,Â it was as if I never smoked cocaine in my entire life. The next thing I did wasÂ to cough, after the cough. It was as ifÂ my heart was cut, my chest hurt badly as if acid was poured inside it. As I gasped for breath, I vomitedÂ blood, no water.
Then I heard that voice again. It said â€˜I told youâ€™. I shouted, who is talking?
As I sat down, something came in a flash, like a TV show, replayed my life story from my house to school then to Felaâ€™s house, everything. I started talking to myself. And I heard myself saying Keji, what kind of life are you living? Is this how youâ€™ll live, get married, have children and train them? And the answer came immediately. Itâ€™s not possible, with this life style, youâ€™re a failure and that was all.
I didn’t go for rehab. IÂ took no medicine. It was divine and thatâ€™s why I believe in the power of God and propagating the gospel. I still play Afro-beat music.
After God helped you to overcome drug, what did you do next?
First, I destroyed my international passport because that would have been the only link to my past with Fela.
How were you feeding?
The year that I got born again, I fasted for 237 days.
At a stretch?
Sometimes, I fasted till 6 pm and aet if I had money but when I didnâ€™t have, I fasted. Thatâ€™s why I can say Iâ€™m a role model. The road to recovery is not easy.