Kimono, whose real name was Augustine Oseloke Onwubuya, was having eternal rest or simply on a final “journey to Zion” like it is said in the Rastafarian parlance.
Paul Osuyi, Asaba
As he lay in the Rastafarian multi-colored casket, which inner lining was made of transparent glass, ethereal peace was written all over him. That day, whoever saw reggae legend, Ras Kimono in his long dreadlocked hair, would probably think that he was just taking a nap.
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But Kimono, whose real name was Augustine Oseloke Onwubuya, was having eternal rest or simply on a final “journey to Zion” like it is said in the Rastafarian parlance.
Although, the entire community of Onicha-Olona literarily stood still for him, the rub-a-dub master was calm in stiff sleep in his white attire with a pair of white canvas to match, while his hands stretched by the sides.
Kimono’s journey to eternity began on June 10, 2018 when he breathed his last in Lagos, and from there, the final burial activities started, through Asaba where Rastas Fraternity held a street procession in his honour, before he was taken to his hometown, Onicha-Olona for interment.
It was a solemn carnival of some sort as his remains berthed in the sleepy agrarian community in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. The procession from the entrance of the town to Kimono’s homestead in Umolo quarter was characterised by music supplied by local folks.
It was an event that witnessed probably the highest number of foreigners into the town, with the indigenes also participating. The elderly saw it as a landmark event in the town’s history, noting that in death, Kimono succeeded in placing the community on the global map.
The sepulcher, Kimono’s final resting place, was not different either.
Built of colonial-like bricks with a touch of modernity in its architectural design, it had a roof painted in red, yellow and green, the Rastafarian colours. The crowd surged forward to catch a glimpse of the musician being lowered into the grave, but security officials who insisted that the interment was meant only for Kimono’s immediate junior family members, restricted them. However, the tears would flow afterwards, as it suddenly dawned on his colleagues, fans, friends, associates and community folks that there will never be another Kimono.
From Olona to global fame
A sobbing relative of the music icon, Amaechi Offor, gave an insight into how Kimono started from the rustic village of Onicha-Olona. Hear him: “We went to the farm together when we were young, and after sharing portions, Kimono would take his cutlass and be playing with it as if it was a guitar, and while singing will be calling out my name, Onyeamachi, which means ‘nobody knows tomorrow’. He will also be calling Afamefune meaning ‘your name will never (be a) loss’, as he is singing. Later, we will ask him to come and let us go home, that our parents are waiting for us. But he will responded that he was going to be a musician. That was how he started his music career.
“But we never knew he would leave us so soon. He told me that he was going abroad to see his family, and it was at the airport that they rushed him to the hospital where he died.”
Man of peace
A cleric, who hails from Onicha-Olona, Ogom Josiah Nsaka of the Asaba Diocese of the Anglican Communion, said Kimono was his junior brother who believed in peaceful coexistence.
“Kimono was a junior boy to me but he was a man of peace, a self-made man who rose from nowhere to the heights. And his music attracted me so much. He was peaceful and friendly, everyone loved him and his music touched the whole world.
“When I heard of his death, I said Olona has lost a prominent figure, and to be able to get such again will be difficult. I pray God to raise greater men and women than Kimono in this town,” Nsaka said.
John Ekene from Ogbe-Obi quarter of Olona stated: “Kimono grew up speedily, his father was dumb and deaf. I know him very well. He grew up on his own and started his career. I remember when I was in Ibadan when he started (music); we supported him by giving him small contracts in the music industry.
“He was fending for himself. He was a man of the people, we will miss him a lot because he was not after money, he only made sure that people in the music industry should reconcile. The community is already missing him. He has been helping our people, making sure that we help ourselves. He was loved beyond his Umuolo quarter in Olona.”
Another native of Olona, Andrew Uzum did not say much about Kimono, but noted that the music star has brought the community onto the global stage. “Kimono is my brother, his mother was from Ogbekenu. He was my senior, but I learnt that when he was in the primary school, he would go to the back of the school building and will be singing and dancing.
“The lesson from this is that anything you are doing, remain committed because when he was doing those things while growing up, they called him rascal, a mad man but later they all changed their opinions. His contribution to this town is that he has exposed it to the global community, he put Olona on the world map,” he said.
He paid his dues
Also, the member representing Aniocha North constituency at the State House of Assembly, Mr. Emeka Nwaobi, said Kimono paid his dues, as he narrated how Kimono joined other artistes in a ‘Thank You’ concert.
He said: “Ras Kimono, like you all know, was a well known musician in the country and across the world. He paid his dues. A few months ago, he was one of the artistes who came publicly to say thank you to me for the things I have done in Aniocha North.
“Incidentally, I had breakfast with them and exactly two weeks after, he left this world. Seeing the honour done to him, the up and coming ones should know that hard work pays. The reason everybody is here today is because he paid his dues before he left. So, it is a moral booster for the up and coming ones that, if you work hard, you will forever be remembered.”
The lion is gone
On his part, Gideon Nwaomu, a proprietor of a relaxation spot in Asaba, Giddy’s Place, said Kimono was like a junior brother to him, having being friends for over 40 years.
“Kimono was my brother, we have known (each other) for over forty years, I cannot call him my friend but brother. I am from Ubulu-Okiti, he was from Olona but we have been brothers for over forty years, we have been in the same music business for forty years, and we relate like senior and junior brothers.
“Before he died, he was with me for three days in Asaba, I didn’t know he came to say goodbye. We planned to go to America together, he was to go and I will meet him, I just finished renewing my visa, it was three days to my birthday when they called that Kimono has fallen sick and that he was in the hospital.
“We were running around, and all of a sudden, on Sunday at about 12 noon, they called to say that the lion is gone, we used to call him the lion. Kimono will be remembered for sharing love. If he comes to Giddy’s Place, he will leave his seat and be serving people beer and food, and be telling them that his senior brother owns the place; that was his type of person.
“He loved without reservation, he was foolish in giving, and he would rather let you eat than eat. Forget his size, Kimono was not gluttonous; he would rather stay hungry for others to eat. He will be remembered for sharing love.
“He was a lion and he was a legend. For those who grew up with him in this town, they were singing the type of song he sang as a child, clicking cans. He started by hitting cans together and ended up a winner in the world (of music).
“He came from here and he rose above everything, he is known all over the world, he was a legend. In Nigerian reggae music, you can’t tell me who is higher than Kimono, so he is the biggest thing we ever had. I want to remember him for the love he shared,” Nwaomu said.