…Majek Fashek, the ‘Rain maker’ dies at 57
…Tony Okoroji, Orits Wiliki, others pay tributes
…He died after battling with cancer for almost a year— Manager
By Benjamin Njoku
Legendary Nigerian musician, Majek Fashek who was rumoured to have died last year, after he was hospitalized in London, has finally succumbed to death.
The iconic singer died at 57, on Monday night, in New York. He died after reportedly battling with cancer.
The demise of the acclaimed ‘Rainmaker’ has left the members of the music fraternity across the world in grief.
In a short video posted on Instagram to announce the demise of the iconic singer, Majek’s manager, Omenka Uzoma Day, said “The legend has gone to be with the Lord, but this time we should all celebrate him. He has done a lot for Nigeria and Africa, whatever the family decides will get to you.”
He also confirmed that the singer died in New York, not in London where he was previously receiving treatment.
Speaking in an audio-voice recorder, Uzoma revealed how Majek was moved to New York to reunite with his wife and three sons on the advice of his doctors after 10 years of separation.
Meanwhile, Majek Fashek’s demise was coming two years after the Nigerian music industry lost another iconic singer, Ras Kimono to the pangs of death.
To many, Majek Fashek’s last days on earth could better be imagined than described, yet Majek would continue to live on in the minds of his fans.
For Tony Okoroji and Orits Wiliki, the late reggae singer represented different things to different people.
Speaking on the passing away of the star, Tony Okoroji who’s the chairman of Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, said, “In various ways, we will celebrate the life of this incredibly talented Nigerian. I hope that before the day is over, I will speak with Randy, his son who lives in New York. We have to deal with the time difference between Lagos and New York and we will make the necessary announcements.
“Everyone knows that Majek Fashek was not just my colleague. He was my friend. He stood by my side and supported me from head to toe over many years. We have shared many memorable moments together. His passing on has put tears in my heart but I am consoled by the fact that there is no need to immortalize Majek Fashek. He has immortalized himself through his unforgettable songs and lyrics. We will celebrate Majek Fashek to inspire the young people in the creative family”
“There is almost nothing that COSON has done that Majek Fashek did not fully participate in. He was 100 percent dedicated to the COSON cause. Majek was not just a COSON member by name. He was a COSON member in his heart and indeed.
“All COSON members across Nigeria and all of our staff at COSON House which he visited regularly, will greatly miss this Nigerian of incomparable talent, the great “rain maker”. Since yesterday, it has been raining across the nation. It has to as the great Rainmaker transits. It is said that Rastas never die. I take it that my brother, friend and colleague, the iconic Majek Fashek has not died, He has travelled and one day, we will join and make music together”
However, in honour of the late musician, COSON yesterday flew the flags at its Ikeja, Lagos headquarters at half mast. Also, the society opened a condolence register for all those who want to pay tribute to the memory of this unique Nigerian artiste to do so.
Paying his own tribute, veteran reggae singer, Orits Wiliki described Majek Fashek as a mentor and one of the pillars of reggae music in Africa. “You call him a mentor, a foundation member and one of the pioneering reggae artistes in Africa,” Orits Wiliki said. Wiliki noted that the deceased would be remembered for the messages that he preached through his songs while on earth. Indeed, other superstars, including Dr. Sid, Dr. Toolz, Mr Eazi among others have continued to express sorrow as well as pay their tributes to the late music star on social media.
Dr Sid said “My first memory of Majek was when my parents were coming back from Lekki Sunsplash in 1989 with the ‘Prisoner of Conscience and I & I Experience vinyls.’ Great music from a true legend.
Also, paying tribute to the late singer, popular radio personality, talk show host, and presenter, Dr. Toolz described Majek as one artiste that we cannot forget in a hurry. “ Majek Fashek, one artist that we would never forget, I listened to his songs while growing up, such as “So long” and “Send Down the Rain.” He always had a message to pass across in his music,” she tweeted.
On his won, sensational singer, Mr Eazi in a series of tweets narrated how he used to watch Majek Fashek while growing up, adding that he was motivated by the late musician a decade ago.
The iconic singer was drawn to reggae in the 1980s at a point when highlife and juju were more dominant in Nigeria.
Majek in one of his interviews said Bob Marley was a major influence in his musical style and looks that mirrored the Jamaican legend. His 1991 release So Long, Too Long, which carried a strong political and pan-African message gained Majek Fashek popularity across Africa. The song was a call for Africans to rise up, both in the continent and those in the diaspora.
He also wrote the song “Free Africa, Free Mandela”, calling for the release of the leader of the African National Congress in South Africa, Nelson Mandela. He was best known for his 1988 album “Prisoner of Conscience” which included the single “Send Down the Rain”. This single won him several awards.
Born in Benin City to an Edo mother and a Yoruba father, Majek whose real name was Majekodunmi Fasheke was one of the greatest reggae artistes in Africa. He worked with various artists worldwide including Tracy Chapman, Jimmy Cliff, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and Beyoncé.
After the separation of his parents, Majek remained in Benin City with his mother, and soon joined the choir in his local Aladura church and learned to play the trumpet and guitar whilst composing songs for the choir. So like many other Nigerian musicians, he had his roots in the church.
According to reports, in the early eighties Majek known then by the stage name Rajesh Kanal, joined the group Jastix with McRoy Gregg, and lead singer Black Rice. They were best known as the in-house band on the show Music Panorama on NTA Benin, and toured with fellow reggae group, The Mandators.
In 1988, Majek Fashek, signed with Tabansi Records and began a solo career by releasing the album Prisoner of Conscience and became Nigeria’s top reggae artist after the song “Send Down The Rain” became the most popular song of the year. In 1989 he won six PMAN awards which included “Song of the Year”, “Album of the Year”, and “Reggae Artist of the Year”.] Fashek’s next album was I&I Experience which was released in late 1989 under the Tabansi label. As a sign of his international reach, he appeared in 1992 on the high-profile David Letterman chat show on US television, where he sang “So Long Too Long.”
In the mid 2000s there were reports that the musician was struggling with his health. Pictures of an emaciated Majek Fashek surfaced online and shocked many Nigerians who expressed deep concerned about the state of health of the reggae star.
In 2015, he spent some time in a drug rehabilitation centre in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. But in September, last year, it was rumoured that the ‘rain maker’ had kicked the bucket, until his manager, Mr Uzoma Omenka came out to clear the air.
Uzoma, however, confirmed that Majek Fashek was ill and battling for his life at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the UK. He gave an update on the state of his health via a video post shared on the official Instagram page of the singer.
“For those praying for Majek, I want to say your prayers are working as he is improving by the day. He his not dead, the least he needs now his death rumor, he needs your prayers and finance to get better, we need help…” Uzoma said.
Recall also, that billionaire Femi Otedola single-handedly footed the medical expenses of the late singer, while he was hospitalized at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the UK last year.
In 2017, Majek staged a comeback to the music stage after 30 years of disappearing from the scene, releasing a new single to celebrate his return. The new single which featured a remake of his old classic ‘Holy Spirit’ now titled ‘Take Over Me’ featured pop star Tuface Idibia.