Veteran singer Ras Kimono passed on after complaining of feeling down on June 10, 2018. In this article, NAIJ.com chronicles his life, his career as well as tributes from his colleagues in Nigeria’s entertainment industry.
Ras Kimono wasn’t his real name. The Nigerian reggae icon was born Austine Okeleke Onwubuya in Delta state, Nigeria, on May 9, 1958. According to Wikipedia, he started out his career firstly as a student of Gbenoba Secondary School, Agbor and later as a member of the Jastix Reggae Ital alongside Majek Fashek, Amos McRoy Jegg and Black Rice Osagie. His music was greatly influenced by the poverty, inequality and hardship he witnessed in his early life.
Best known tracks
Kimono released his first album Under Pressure on the Premier Music label in 1989. This propelled him to instant continental stardom. Other hit songs on the album included Under Pressure, and the massive Rhumba Style.
His next album What’s Gwan was even more successful. The song and album dealt with the topics like legalisation of marij*ana, the need for Africans to intellectually repel colonialism and its arbitrary boundaries between tribes. This was also the album Kimono named those in power whom he saw as synonymous with backdoor imperialism.
He regularly sang in his own version of patois which was a mixture of the Jamaican version with African influences. His strongly polemical lyrics produced album sales of over 100,000 copies, and a fervent following for his advocacy of social change.
Little known facts about Ras Kimono
According to several sources, Kimono got his stage name from his native language. One Emeka Esogbue who is an Anioma historian claimed Kimono adopted the name from the Igbo word, “Kie eme unu.”
The dread locked musician was a father who hailed from Aniocha north Local government area of Delta State.
He was said to have been married three times and his third wife named Efe also doubled as his manager. Another wife Sybil is said to be working as a nurse in the USA.
Together he is said to have five children from three different women and they are all girls.
There are several reports that his real name is Ekeleke Elumelu. This hasn’t been verified by NAIJ.com.
His famous colleagues in the industry have also started sending in their condolences. Delta state Governor Ifeanyi Okowa wrote that Kimono belonged to an era of great reggae music exponents in Nigeria.
Actress Regina Daniels took to her Instagram to write that: “I never knew that death is real until today. Uncle rasky you took me as your child, advised me, and always corrected me..... without knowing that death was around the corner . You said to me, my daughter am your number one fan keep doing great...... it breaks me so much that you are gone. I pray you rest Rest in peace . Ur legacy lives on”
His former bandmate and close friend Majek Fashek also mourned his passing “I am gonna miss you. Jah love you more till we meet again.”
Senator Dino Melaye wrote thus: “Death why! Why! My brother and my friend. Legend Ras Kimono rest in peace. What a black day! What an unceremonious exit. I love you and will miss you. Sad sad sad.”
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