Friday, 5 June 2020

How Majek Fashek boosted black consciousness

Majek Fashek. Pic: BBC News.

Majekodunmi Fasheke, otherwise known as Majek Fashek, was announced into stardom by the rain in 1988. Again, the raining season, in Nigeria, announced his death, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. He was 57 when death took him away from his home in New York.


Growing up into the revolutionary songs era of reggae music, Fashek would, later, as a music star, also add his voice to that of the legends such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, among others.

 Coincidentally, he died in New York during the week of nationwide protests against the racial killing of African American, George Floyd. A white police officer, Chauvin Derek had used his knee to strangle unarmed Floyd to death in Minneapolis city, Minnesota.

In Nigeria, Fashek was more known for his 1988 album titled Prisoner of Conscience, which included the multiple award-winning single "Send Down the Rain". But, his  work on Black consciousness made him an international star.

In fact, one of his songs titled So Long For Too Long, releaasd in 1991 is very relevant in the current racial turmoil in the US.

Excerpts from the lyrics of
So Long for Too Long:
'Arise from your sleep Africa
Arise from your sleep America
There's work to be done Africa
He also had a message for black people in the US:
Remember, remember, Marcus Garvey
Who had a dream for you Africa
Remember, remember, Martin Luther King
Who had a dream for you America.'

The music was released under CBS Nigeria label.

More than twice, spanning several years, Fashek's rumoured deaths have emerged to be false as the musician battled protracted illness. On a wet Tuesday morning, his death, was confirmed via social media by manager Omenka Uzoma, on the late singer’s official Instagram handle.

 After his hit, Send Down The Rain won the hearts of  young and old music lovers, Fashek in 1992, wrote Free Africa, Free Mandela. His call for the release of Mandela echoed on the international space. Fashek, in the same year, appeared on the popular David Letterman chat TV show in US.

For over ten years, from the beginning of the new millennium,  Fashek's fame started sliding as   there were reports that the musician was having health issues. Disputed rumours about the musician's battle against drug addiction took years to crash.

In 2015, he was taken into drug rehabilitation centre in FCT, Abuja, where he spent few years.

However, pictures of the musician's emaciating physique suggested that there were still challenges as regards his health.

Fashek's musical trajectory began in the early 1980s under a stage name Rajesh Kanal. He had joined a group known as Jastix with McRoy Gregg, and Drummer Black 'Rice. The group came into limelight as residents band on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) Benin show known then as Music Panorama.

Jastix also worked with other reggae group like The Mandators and solo singer Edi Rasta, later known as Evi-Edna Ogholi.

After Jastix disbanded in 1988, Fashek, as a solo, signed with Lagos-based Tabansi Records and released the debut album titled Prisoner of Conscience. From the album, the hit track, Send Down The Rain, in 1989 won six Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) awards as Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Reggae Artist of the Year. Still under Tabansi, Fashek had I&I Experience, released in late 1989.

Other works of Fashek include Spirit Of Love, produced by "Little Steven" Van Zandt, in 1990, Interscope Records; The Best of Majek Fashek, in 1994 by Flame Tree; Redemption Song, released by Mango, a Division of Island Record; Rainmaker for Tuff Gong (1997) and Little Patience for Coral (2004).

Married to Rita, Fashek had four children with his wife, but later divorced.
 -Tajudeen Sowole.


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