The Nigerian reggae superstar, Majekodunmi Fasheke, better known as Majek Fashek, died recently in New York, USA, in his sleep. Though the cause of death was not announced by his manager while announcing his demise it is known that the reggae crooner had had a running battle with drugs. At 57 he could not have died of COVID-19 given the large number of the dead and contaminated in Uncle Sam. Perhaps complications arising from drug use and abuse could have been at the root of his untimely passage.
Decades ago in college in Benin city I was one of those that appreciated his debut album and hit song ‘Send Down The Rain’ which catapulted him to stardom. Other albums followed years later. He travelled to America and became popular for his talent. Majek had worked with various artists worldwide including Jimmy Cliff, Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and Beyonce.
Sadly he took to drugs as fame became difficult to manage. Managing stardom has never been an easy task. He started well as a young promising musical talent only for him to be ‘destroyed’ by narcotics.
One was not surprised therefore at the sad news of Majek’s demise. For quite sometime now he had been behaving funny due to narcotics overdose or whatever stupefying substance he was addicted to. He was almost like a junkie living dangerously on an opium fringe!
Late 80’s and early 90’s in Nigeria many young talented artists made name and money for themselves — Oritz Wiliki, Alex 0, Ras Kimono, Felix Lebarty, Shina Peters, KWAM 1, Charly Boy etc. Then Nigeria was a beautiful country to behold, one devoid of terrorism, political prostitution and grand corruption.
Today the Nigerian entertainment industry has been revolutionalised with Nollywood movie industry taking ‘bronze’ medal on a global scale just behind the Indian Bollywood and American Hollywood. Besides, new generation artists like Burna Boy, Flavour, Tuface, P Square, Davido, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage etc have emerged to take ‘Naija’ music industry to another level.
I remember attending Majek Fashek’s live concert at Ogbe Stadium in Benin City as a student decades ago. He came in ‘handcuffed’ proclaiming himself the ‘prisoner of conscience’! That night of reggae melody Majek gave a good account of himself. He was in his youthful best, handsome, wearing dreadlocks. His polished fair pigmentation and other physical attributes gave him away at first glance as a child of destiny.
The problem of narcotics peddling and consumption is a global phenomenon. And Nigeria is not exempted from the world drug menace. Some Nigerians had been caught trafficking in drugs abroad. Some had been tried and jailed. And others had been hanged or beheaded in Saudi Arabia for engaging in lucrative drug business. Worse still, some of our compatriots involved in narco-trafficking had been allegedly ‘grinded’ like pepper in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia!
While the organized drug cartels in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia hold central governments ‘hostage’ sometimes leading to street wars drug lords live in obscene opulence. In West Africa we have a mini narco state in Guinea Bissau. Before the military and diplomatic intervention of ECOWAS and the recent controversial presidential poll that saw the emergence of Umaro Sissoco Embalo as President the tiny country has had a history of countless bloody coups and counter-coups engendered by narcotics proceeds. Generals and politicians were all involved in the drug web!
Hard drugs has ruined a lot of lives rendering rich men paupers. The Argentine soccer legend, Diego Maradona, has had a sordid history of hard drug use and abuse. The late British pop megastar, George Michael, equally had issues with drugs and homosexuality.
Majek Fashek, given his embarrassing history of drug addiction, could not be considered as a role model or hero for his generation, our generation. Though his musical impact was felt beyond the shores of Nigeria he became synonymous with ignoble comportment associated with opium.
Fame is something phenomenal and great. It is so captivating when one achieves it in any given endeavour in life that mismanagement of same could lead to self-destruction. Majek was a glorified victim of fame.
We all aspire to be famous in life but the consequencies could be double-faced — positive or negative. In the event of a famous man or woman losing their mojo recourse to drugs could become irresistible. Worse still, some even go to Lucifer for power!
Drug abuse has risen astronomically in Nigeria in recent times (especially in the north) because of frustrations occasioned by generalized insecurity, poverty, unemployment, social inequality and governmental failure at the federal and states’ levels. People take to drugs as a sure way of temporarily forgetting the daily inadequacies they face.
In a hopeless nation where poor citizens hear and read about millions and billions of Dollars stolen from the national and states’ treasuries by the misruling corrupt elite they could find solace in sniffing or smoking anything toxically injurious to their health.
For Majekodunmi Fasheke, the ‘rain-maker’, we say down with dope. We grieve for you nonetheless! For those folks still doing drugs out there — the politicians, entertainers, bizmen — we say down with dope! And for those resisting the daily narcotics attraction we say stay strong, up with hope!
Author: Ozodinukwe Okenwa…
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