By Benjamin Njoku
For two days, the usually calm Oluwaleimu Street in the Allen Avenue area of Ikeja in Lagos was on lockdown as artistes of all colours and personalities from all walks of life stormed the street which houses the magnificent edifice owned by Copyright Society of Nigeria,COSON, to pay their last respects to a legendary Nigerian reggae artiste, the Rub A Dub Master, Ras Kimono.
COSON pulled every stop as it sent Kimono home in grand style like a king. Kimono’s journey home commenced on Wednesday, August 23, when a sleek red-carpet event, a tribute night like no other, was organised in his honour. The tribute night attended by music industry personalities of all persuasions, climaxed the week-long funeral program of the well loved music legend who passed on at Lagoon Hospital, Ikoyi Lagos on June 10, 2018.
On the top floor of COSON House, there was a show which opened with an invocation by gospel artiste, Kenny Saint Best. The show featured first class performances by the likes of Tama Nisa, a beautiful young singer with the voice of an angel. Flanked by five sweet looking girls dressed in black, each with a lit candle, Tama Nisa wowed the audience with Good Night Ras Kimono adapted from Elton John’s Candle in the Wind.
Tama Nisa’s performance was followed by Jolly Good Man, a moving tribute in song to Ras Kimono by reggae singer, Righteousman. Incredibly gifted singer, Essence Uwale was also on stage at the COSON Arena and she brought tears to the eyes of many with her unique rendition of One Sweet Day.
Instead of the traditional minute silence, there was a Minute of Whistles in which everyone in the audience blew their whistles in celebration of Kimono, very well known for his love of whistles. The show was streamed live on several media platforms and on a huge screen on Oluwaleimu Street, where a significant audience lined the street and watched until the beginning of the explosive music concert on a huge stage set up by COSON on Oluwaleimu Street which went on until the early hours of Thursday.
In between the performances, there appeared on the big screen at the COSON Arena, a finely scripted documentary produced by the COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji which traced the life and times of Ras Kimono with details unknown to many; from his birth in his hometown, Onicha Olona, to his passing on in Lagos. The documentary received a rousing applause.
The unforgettable event with Koffi as MC, ended with a moving performance of Holy Spirit by the iconic reggae legend, Majek Fashek after which the tribute night shifted to the grounds of Oluwaleimu Street where artiste after artiste mounted the big stage, performing from dusk till dawn. The following day, Thursday 23, the ever busy street witnessed Kimono’s grand lying-in-state. The body of the reggae lion was placed in an all-glass casket on an enchanting dais designed by Gbemisola Amedu and set up by Lefranc Eventors, in front of the magnificent COSON House.
People streamed in from everywhere to view the body and pay their last respects to the Rub-A-Dub Master. After the lying in state, a strong delegation of the COSON Board and officials; the Rastafarian community, members of the family, friends, other entertainment industry personalities and the media, set out in a massive convoy to Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The body in a white Cadillac Escalade hearse, which was cheered by Nigerians on the road, all the way to Asaba, was received in the Delta State capital, on behalf of the state government by the state Commissioner for Culture & Tourism, Mr. Emma Chinye. At every stop along the way, ordinary Nigerians waved with many singing and dancing to Under Pressure; What’s Gwan? Rumba Stylee and the rest of the unforgettable songs of the great Ras Kimono who was 100 per cent COSON activist and Board member to the end. The veteran singer’s remains, contained in a Rastafarian coloured casket, was lowered into the ground at exactly 3.20pm by Ven. Josiah Ogom of the Asaba Diocese of the Anglican Communion. He was buried in a marble tiled mausoleum situated in his hometown in Aniocha North Local Government Area.