This article missed the press last week, which is why it resiliently returns, though the demise of the Rainmaker, Majek Fashek, has been crowded out of the headlines by political issues, including the ruling party’s seeming movie in Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole’s sustained suspension and the aftermath, I still hold that lessons abound in the life and times of the Rainmaker.
These days, the social media has become adept at killing people before they die. Veteran thespian, Olu Jacobs, had been killed in that space days ago before his close associates saved him from the Internet lynch mob, some of whom had begun to send unsolicited tributes for a man who was hale and hearty. Same thing happened about six months ago to Majek Fashek, the Nigerian reggae icon who passed away in his sleep on June 2, 2020, in New York. He had also been killed in the social media before his manager, Uzoma Omenka, rescued him. It was the same Omenka who confirmed that the reggae icon had passed when he did, after battling esophageal cancer. Majek passed away at the age of 57.
I have opted to mourn the Rainmaker, one of the musical icons who made the beat robust in my days as an art reporter. Music took the shine in the art beat in those days, but for occasional art exhibitions. Chief Tony Okoroji, the hardworking president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) made music the epicentre of art reporting at that time. Majek, one of the most talented guitarists and composers to emerge from Nigeria’s music scene, had some physical and developmental affinity with Robert Nester Marley (Bob Marley), arguably the greatest all-time reggae icon in the world, even three decades after his demise.
Like Marley, Majek grew up in a home where there was no father, given that the man had broken up with his mother, similar to Marley whose father was said to be a seaman who, after meeting Bob’s mother, allegedly headed back to his ship for further trips. That version of Bob’s life may be controverted but the fact is that Bob grew with his mother operating as a single parent. Majek Fashek’s mother is from Edo State and his father was a Yoruba man. Upon their separation, Majek stayed with his mother in Edo, and was better known in that part of the country.
He honed his talent while playing for Jastix, a reggae band that broke up in 1987. Majek went solo and signed up with Tabansi Records, where he released the album “Prisoner of Conscience,” which contained the monster hit, “Send Down the Rain,” making it win PMAN awards in 1989 as Album of the Year and Song of the Year, respectively. He later moved to CBS and Interscope Records, where he released other songs, including “Free Mandela.” I recall an album review I did in those days, where I noted that Majek’s horn arrangements were greatly influenced by Fela. I was delighted when the Rainmaker confirmed that Fela Anikulapo Kuti had a great influence on his music. Majek was a great lyricist whose songs expose the vanity in the lyrics of today, where musicians celebrate sex in place of societal issues. It was not as if the likes of Marley and Majek did not sing love songs but theirs were way above the near porn that now passes as lyrics and video. Today’s musical acts have lessons to learn from their forebears in this business. It is said that a society gets the musicians it deserves. Majek wrote songs that moved the spirit. His remix of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” shows that both reggae icons had a lot in common. They stand as exemplary lyricists for those on the scene today.
Both men also had such flaws as is common to many creative people. Marley was open about his consumption of cannabis, leading to his campaign that the weed be legalised. Majek had issues with the bottle and, I hear, hard drugs. His demise was said to be the aftermath of a battle with cancer. Those coming after him ought to avoid such banana peels as drugs, which he stepped on. Some creative people have proven that talent and hard work are enough. They do not need to receive the perceived boost that drugs supposedly trigger. Talent and hard work are enough. Marley and Majek were great musical icons, which is why those who have chosen that path for their lives need to examine them and emerge better versions. Bob Marley stuck with Rita Marley till the end but MaJek did not stick with Rita Majek till the end. Like his father, Majek parted ways with his wife, a route, I believe, his four children will stay away from. Offspring ought to avoid the mistakes of their parents.
Majek would be remembered for his great talent and contributions to the music industry. America is said to have debilitated his growth in music because it gave him drugs in place of a microphone, but his talent came from his maker. Majek lived as a great talent, one that holds plenty lessons for upcoming musicians, and young men whose talents hold benefits for the world.