One of the leading reggae icons in Nigeria, Ras Kimono, has reportedly passed on. He fell ill on Saturday and rushed by friends to a hospital in Ikeja from where he was transferred to Lagoon Hospital in Ikoyi.
He died on Sunday morning despite a planned trip to the US.
Born Ukeleke Onwubuya on May 9 in Delta State, he celebrated his 60th birthday amidst fanfare in Lagos a few weeks ago.
In his lifetime, he exuded energy that could easily rival that of any young musician on stage. His dexterity on the stage was incredible and that endeared him to many fans.
Tributes have continued to pour in for the veteran reggae singer.
Among those who mourned his death are controversial senator, Dino Melaye, singer Sound Sultan, Shina Peters, Oritz Wiliki and many of his contemporaries.
A recently elected director at the Copyright Society of Nigeria, he was full of life and present at any stakeholder meeting of the society.
The late singer started out his career as a student of Gbenoba Secondary School Agbor, Delta State and later as a member of the Jastix Reggae Ital, alongside, Majek Fashek, Amos McRoy Jegg and Black Rice Osagie.
In his tribute, his long-time friend and colleague, Majek Fashek, revealed that they were together on Friday and planned to record some songs together.
“Ras Kimono why too soon kimono my brethren? RIP I am short of words, our last meeting three days ago was for you to meet with my manager Uzo in America and death took you away. You will forever be in my heart. I am gonna miss you. Jah love you more till we meet again. Just three days ago, Ras Kimono and I spoke to my able manager presently in America to meet in New York before death took you away,” Majek lamented.
Music band, Bantu, said, “Thank you Ras Kimono for the great music and positive vibes. You never had any airs around you, always approachable, always generous to a fault. It was a privilege to have performed and shared the stage with you. Our thoughts and prayers go to your daughter, Oge Kimono and your family. Rest In Power LION!”
Similarly, the President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, Pretty Okafor, said he was shocked when he received the news.
An advocate of social change, Kimono was known for his patois styled music.
In 1989, his band group, Massive Dread Reggae Band, released an album titled Under Pressure.
He once revealed that he is a vegetarian and has never indulged in any affair that went against his upbringing, including smoking and drinking.
Ras Kimono rose to stardom after the release of his debut album ‘Under Pressure’ in the late ‘80s.
His style of music was significantly influenced by the hardship he reportedly experienced in his early life.
The late reggae music icon won several awards including the Nigeria Music Awards and Fame Music Awards among others.
In october 2017, he dropped a new single after many years of hiatus from the music scene.
His former record label, Premier Records Limited, released the single titled, “Blessed Africa”, digitally. The song is a reflection of what Nigeria and Africa have been going through despite the rich mineral, human and natural resources in the land.
The multi-award winning reggae icon returned to the country in 2010 in an effort to reconnect with his fans.
He released albums in 2009 and 2011; both albums had an impressive reception.
His death would be most felt by his immediate family, especially his children and wife, Sybil.
The late singer was married to Sybil, who relocated to the United States of America with him but did not return to Nigeria with him.
Sybil, herself an accomplished dancer, currently resides in America.
They met at the University of Lagos where he used to go for rehearsals. They got married in 1990 and Sybil served as his manager for many years, even when the couple relocated to the U.S. in the early 2000s
He also welcomed a daughter, Dimma, with his manager Efe Okedi, in 2013 – news he confirmed in several interviews, during his lifetime.