Referring to the brutal manner dreams get killed, iconic reggae musician, Okeleke Onwubuya popularly known as Ras Kimono regretted that Nigeria is a country where good things hardly grow.
However, the Rub-a-dub master, who passed away on Sunday June 10, 2018, did not know that his dreams were next to be cut short not by man but by death, the Grim Reaper.
In this interview granted a few weeks ago, the Onicha Olona, Delta State-born music star, talked about the preparations he’s making for his 25 years on stage celebration and the forthcoming Nigerian Theatre at 42 event where he supposed to perform, as well as the release of a video for his latest album, Senseless Killings.
On Nigerian theater
The forthcoming ‘Nigerian Theatre at 42’ event is a good idea. But I wish theatre had grown better than what it is now; it ought to have grown much better than what it is now at 42. Unfortunately, in Nigeria nothing grows; everything one plants dies before it begins to grow; you plant flowers they don’t grow. For instance, if not for the former Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and some other concerned people, probably the National Theatre – that monument which is a symbol of everything our theatre represents – could have been sold and bought by some Chinese businessmen or some Indonesians. You will never know they could have turned it to a Chinese restaurant or something else.
However, for the Nigerian theatre to attain 42 is not a joke. That’s a milestone. But I maintain that the the atre ought to have grown more than what it is now. I think the reason for its stunted growth is that most of our politicians, most of our leaders are always nonchalant to everything especially our culture. They don’t know anything about culture and they don’t care about improving on our culture. They simply kill everything in Nigeria; they kill athletics, they kill football, they kill music because most of them never really care a hoot about our culture.
Sadly, most of the people who have ruled the country in the past didn’t care about anything. They didn’t care about the youths; they didn’t care about anything. Take for instance, we have lots of youths who are artistes, musicians and footballers, but the leaders all have sympathy for nothing. They still don’t have ideas as to how to help the youths.
Here in the southern part of the country, we have rivers; we have youths who can be trained to be world-beaters in swimming. We have athletes, artistes that can lift this country with their potentials if they are given the opportunity to excel. Unfortunately, they are not being given anything; it is a shame that no one cares.
For theatre at 42, it is left for the artistic director to set up committees and sensitise the youths who will take up things from where we will stop. And when we die, or may be, in the next three years, we can look back and say when this set of people took over from the past one, was when we started to work. May be in the next 20 years, you will come back and ask me this question about my role. By then, I will look back and say how far we have come.
Thoughts on African culture
Definitely, we have to take our culture to the highest level. Foreigners, especially the whites, want to see African culture; they want to see another phase of African culture. African culture is something that we can sell to them and come back with money to further develop what we have. But what has been happening in the past was that those who wanted to kill the national troupe and Nigerian culture always went abroad and never came back. But from now, it is definitely not going to be what it used to be in the past.
I have been talking; I have been shouting through my songs, through my music but no one cares to listen to me. That is why I keep fighting.
Last November, I dropped an album, Senseless Killings, trying to put a stop to the orgy of killings across the country. I just wish Nigerians would listen to my message. If they listen, we certainly will halt this wave of killings across the country.
In 1990, I dropped an album, What a Gwan. It was a question I asked hoping that Nigeria and Nigerians who listen to me will answer. Shockingly, no one listened to me. If Nigerians had listened to me and imbibed what I was saying in my music, probably things could have changed and been working better by now. I probably could have been singing praise songs. But now, as it is, I can’t sing praise songs because things are not working.
I have a new album, Senseless Killings, and I am doing some other things now. For instance, I’m planning for my 25 years on stage, which is coming up soon. That is why I have not been so eager about so many things around me now. I am concentrating more on my 25 years on stage celebration. I am looking for sponsors, working with a lot of people who are putting together a lot of things for me. It is for that reason that I’m putting a hold on my video on Senseless Killings and concentrating on my 25 years on stage; after that I will continue with the rest of the things I’m doing.