By Benjamin Njoku
Front-line Nigerian reggae star, Uti Kennedy Nduka popularly called, Yellow Banton, has narrated his battle with skin cancer, even as he fears he would leave his children with no father.
Yellow Banton, who’s best known in the late 90’s and early millennium with his style of infusing pidgin language into reggae and successfully blending both in a unique way, says he has been battling the deadly disease for about eight years now.
The ghetto singer was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2010. He’s popularly known for his track, “ Na Who Dey Make Them Dey Happy Onyibo.” Holding back tears, while narrating his ordeal to Sidebeat, the Delta State-born reggae star, said “It has been there for over eight years. But it wasn’t as noticeable and big as it’s today.
It was like a mosquito bite that was growing gradually. I noticed it at the early stage but I never knew it would get to a point that it would become a threat to my life. I thought it was something I could handle on my own because I had taken different drugs but to no avail. I never knew it would grow as big as this.
My doctors have advised me that if I don’t undergo surgery as soon as possible, it would spread to other parts of body. That’s why I can’t continue to rely on the drugs that I had been taken to suppress it. I have to open up on my condition so that I can get a solution.”
Yellow Banton was speaking for the first time since his diagnosis with Basal Cell Carinoma,BCC, an aggressive skin cancer , which he believes was caused by sunburns. The reggae star is pleading with Nigerians to come to his rescue, though the ordeal has had a huge impact, all the more painful because he lost his elder brother to cancer some years back. “The wound has been there for long and its been growing gradually. They told me it’s cancer. The same cancer that killed my elder brother,” he said in a low voice.
Banton also added that his doctors at LASUTH have warned that if nothing is done urgently he might lose the battle to cancer.
The reggae star, however, is lamenting that his loved ones have abandoned him following his condition. “ Since I was diagnosed as suffering from skin cancer, nobody wants to associate with me again. “I’m a reggae musician and I have released some albums in the past. But the challenge I’m having today is because of the sunburns that I have.
I went to LASUTH where I was diagnosed with Basal Cell Carinoma(BCC). I have no money to foot my medical bill. I was asked to do a particular test before I would undergo surgery. And the surgery must be carried out within two weeks after the test. I have not done the test because I am yet to raise the money for the surgery.”
“I am begging Nigerians to come to my rescue. I don’t want to die. Sometimes, when I’m performing on stage, and I go close to my fans. Immediately they sight the wounds on my neck, they begin to withdraw from me. This is common among my female fans.”
Narrating further, Yellow Banton who’s also an albino said “My colleagues hardly invite me to their shows these days. They don’t feel comfortable seeing me around them with cancer on my skin. Sometimes, when I’m invited to perform at a birthday party, some mothers don’t allow their children to dance with me. I have been living with this stigma for the past eight years. Some children would be asking me what happened to my neck. It makes me feel very bad and it affects my business as an entertainer. Nobody wants to invite me again for a show.”
Most painful of it all is that his wife divorced him few years back because he could no longer fend for the family. “ My wife left me because of my condition. If you are living with a woman, and you start experiencing difficult times, she starts misbehaving. She walked out of the marriage about seven years ago,” he said.
Given his condition, Yellow Banton is homeless and he hardly can take care of his needs.
Meanwhile, veteran actress and broadcaster, Mabel Oboh through her non-governmental organization, Centre for Save Our Stars- the first NGO caring for Nigerian entertainers is championing the campaign to save the ailing reggae star.
At a recent press parley, which was graced by top Ajegunle musicians including Baba Fryo and Chinagorom Onuoha better known as Africa China, Oboh said Yellow Banton needs the support of well-meaning Nigerians to stay alive.
“We have done series of tests for Yellow Banton and we would still do more. We might lose him if nothing is done urgently. But we don’t want that to happen. So, we are pleading Nigerians to come to his rescue. A lot of entertainers are dying today because nobody is taking care of them.
This begging must stop. Many entertainers are in terrible health conditions and we just have to end this scourge. We are also encouraging them to save for a rainy day and stay off drugs and other ugly activities that would drain their pockets,” he expalined.
According to her, the reggae star needs about N6 million to undergo surgery as soon as possible before the cancer spreads to all parts of his body.