The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has expressed shock and sadness at the passing of the globally-acclaimed reggae star, Ras Kimono.
The minister in a statement signed by Mr. Segun Adeyemi, Special Adviser to the minister of Information and Culture stated that late Kimono will be remembered for his contribution to the elevation of reggae, his love of the masses, his life of discipline and his service to humanity.
“Kimono helped to blaze the trail for the phenomenal growth of the Nigerian music industry, and he was a worthy mentor to the younger generation of Nigerian musicians,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
“His legacy will surely endure.”
The minister also extended his condolences to the family, friends and fans of the late artiste, and indeed to the entire Nigerian music industry, for losing a foremost proponent of reggae, a prominent campaigner for a better life for the people and a patriot.
Also, former Presidential Adviser, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, described Ras Kimono’s death as a major loss to the country.
Speaking in Calabar, Cross River State, she described Ras Kimono as not just an amazing entertainer, but an intellectual and activist, who used his music to send messages on issues that should be corrected in the country.
Expressing shock at his demise, Ita-Giwa, who is also the leader of the Seagull Band, one of the five competition band at Carnival Calabar, said plans were underway to have him join the band in the carnival in December this year.
“He was to join the carnival last year,” she said.
“In fact he was to join the carnival this year. I am truly shocked and we miss him a great deal.
“He should be honoured for his contribution to the development of this country and for democracy. He cried out for democracy. Nigeria needs to celebrate him.”
Ras Kimono died on Sunday morning at the Lagoon Hospital, Ikoyi, Lagos. He was scheduled to travel to the US on Saturday but complained of ill-health on Friday evening and was rushed to an hospital in Ikeja, Lagos before he was transferred to Lagoon Hospital, Ikoyi.
In May, he turned 60 and celebrated with coleagues in the music industry.
Born Ekeleke Elumelu Onwubuya on May 9, 1958, Kimono who hailed from Delta State released his debut album with his Massive Dread Reggae Band, ‘Under Pressure’ while signed to Premier Music in 1989.
Also speaking on the burial plans, Chairman of Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON and friend of Ras Kimono, said Kimono’s family is yet to announce the burial plans but COSON is planning to give the late reggae star a befitting burials.
“Meanwhile, flags are flying at half-mast at COSON House. There’s a condolence register at COSON House that are people are coming to sign on. The music of Ras Kimono plus he visuals of his biggest performances are showing at COSON House. We wuld ecelbrate him mightily. His funeral would be one of the best organised in the history of Nigeria with respect to artistes. I can assure you that.”
Also, Rastafarians in Ebonyi State are planning to hold candlelight procession for Ras Kimono.
Though a date is yet to be fixed, the reggae artists said that the procession was to honour Kimono “because of his great contributions to the development of the brand of music in the country.”
Until his death, Ras Kimono who was a vegetarian for 37 years before his death practiced Rastafraianism.
James Okoh, alias Rasta Omege, said he would coordinate the activities to ensure that Kimono was given a befitting tribute by Rastafarians in the state.
“We would immediately convene a meeting to deliberate on ways to honour our departed father and further propagate the reggae gospel in the state and the country.
“We would also organise candle light procession, hold road-shows, music concerts, Rastafarian-night, among other activities, to give Ras Kimono a befitting farewell.”
Another Rastafarian, Charles Nduka, alias Rasta Iree, said Kimono’s contributions to the development of music, especially reggae and the entire social sector of the country, was unparalleled.
“Kimono inspired young musicians in the country to embrace reggae and this helped in some of the positive changes witnessed in the society,” Rasta Iree said.
“Kimono, through his songs, ensured that music was given its pride of place in the country and corrected the wrong notion that it is a venture for school drop-outs and never do wells.”