Nigerian and African music legend, Majekodunmi Fasheke, popular with the stage name, Majek Fashek, has passed on at the age of 57 on Monday, June 1, 2020. Fashek, one of the biggest names in Nigerian reggae died of an unspecified illness in his sleep in New York on Monday, though he battled oesophagal cancer. Omenka Uzoma, the manager of the globally recognised star confirmed the news of his death via an Instagram video post.
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It is true, the legend has gone to meet with the Lord. But at this time I want to say that we should all celebrate his achievements. He has done a lot for Nigeria, Africa.Omenka Uzoma
Starting out his career with the stage name, Rajesh Kanal, late Fashek began his journey in the music world as part of the Jastix trio prior the release of his breakout single hit in Nigeria, Send Down The Rain in 1988 and Prisoner of Conscience, its parent album. In 1990, he made the waves as the first African music star to sign a record deal with Interscope Records, and would go on to release two globally-acclaimed albums in 1991 with the titles, ‘So Long Too Long’ and ‘Spirit Of Love.’
Fashek gained recognition within and outside Africa with the title track from the ‘So Long Too Long’ album, a song considered to be an anti-apartheid anthem. The song carried a strong political and pan-African message, urging Africans in Africa and Africans in the diaspora to rise up. Lines from the track sings:
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
In a time South Africa was battling the evil of apartheid, Fashek wrote the song Free Africa, Free Mandela, a great call for the release of late South African leader and freedom-fighter, Nelson Mandela, from prison. His impact worldwide would see him appear and perform on the high profile David Letterman chat show on US television in 1992, using the opportunity to preach the message of So Long For Too Long.
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Fashek who revealed that he was greatly inspired by Bob Marley (the reason behind his dread looks) and Nigerian music legend, Fela, also worked with global acts like late world pop legend, Micheal Jackson, Jamaican reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff, Tracy Chapman, Snoop Dogg, and Beyonce.
Also known as the Rainmaker, news of his battle with ill health started making the rounds in the mid-2000s with emaciated pictures of the once bubbling music star, shocking his fans in Nigeria and worldwide. He would spend time in a drug rehabilitation centre in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, in 2015, before recovering and making a return to the music scene. Again, in September 2019, he was reported critically ill in London, leading to false rumours of his death.
Born in Benin, Edo State (Old Bendel State) in 1963, to an Ijesha, Osun State, father, and an Edo mother, the late Nigerian singer, songwriter and guitarist, identified with his Benin roots. He introduced to Nigeria and the world what he tagged ‘kpangolo music’ in his 1988 Prisoner of Conscience album which also gave him the title of ‘The Rainmaker, due to its multiple award-winning and hit soundtrack Send Down The Rain. Majek Fashek until his death on June 1, was survived by four children and his ex-wife, Rita Fashek.
Featured Image Source: This Day Live
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