What’s Gwan? Ras Kimono No Longer Under Pressure

The music stopped on the morning of Sunday, June 10, 2018, for reggae maestro Ras Kimono. A day earlier, the 60-year-old was to travel to the United States probably to also look after his health,  but he had to wait because, he said, he was “feeling funny”.  He was taken to a private hospital in Lagos and then to another. He couldn’t make it.

For almost 30 years, Ras Kimono [birth name = Ekeleke Elumelu] was recognised as a reggae legend not just in Nigeria but throughout Africa. His solo debut album Under Pressure [1989] was a huge success, but What’s Gwan [1990] proved even more successful. Both the old and the young enjoy his music brand which could rightly be described as the “Rum-Bar Stylee” depicted in the title of one of his popular hit songs, a mixture of Jamaican and African brew.

An entry in Wikipedia says his music “was greatly influenced by the poverty, inequality and hardship he witnessed in his early life” and topics he selected for his songs included “legalisation of marijuana, and the need for Africans to intellectually repel colonialism and its arbitrary boundaries between tribes”. Like his mentor Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Ras Kimono stoked controversy by “naming directly those in power he saw as synonymous with backdoor imperialism”.

Mr Elumelu will be sorely missed by the music community as well as other people from all walks of life through the length and breadth of Africa, Europe and the Americas where, in his peak, he performed on stage.

The music legend was born in Delta State on May 9, 1958. His contemporaries include another music icon Majek Fashek. He won several awards including the Nigeria Music Awards and Fame Music Awards.

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