Nigerian reggae musician; Majek Fashek has died, his manager said on Tuesday.
Born in Benin City to an Edo mother and a Ijesha father, but identifies with his Benin roots, Majek, who toured the world with the sound of African reggae with hits such as the ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ and ‘Send Down the Rain’, died in New York, Omenka Uzoma, who has served as his manager and publicist for about seven years, said Tuesday morning. His age was not immediately clear.
“The legend has gone to meet with the Lord,” Mr Uzoma said in a video uploaded by HipTV. “We should all celebrate him — his achievement.”
Majek’s 1988 album ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ and the single ‘Send Down the Rain’ became a major hit worldwide and garnered multiple awards, including Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria’s album of the year in 1989.
It was followed by ‘So Long for Too Long’ in 1991, which incorporated haunting vocals with the artist’s captivating rhythm.
In the early 2000s, Majek, whose stage name was a condensed form of his full name Majekodunmi Fasheke, featured in some local film productions in Nigeria, including ‘Mark of the Beast’.
The last few years of his life were replete with multiple allegations of excessive drug use and illness, most of which the artist declined to publicly confirm. In 2019, there were rumours of his death, but he debunked them by confirming that he was receiving treatment at a rehabilitation centre on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
In September, his publicist sought financial help from the public to help care for the Nigerian legend, a call that was heeded by many, including businessman Femi Otedola. He was treated at a hospital in London for several months before he moved to the United States in January 2020 to be with his family.
He reportedly died at 57 and was survived by four children and his ex-wife, Rita.
HERE ARE FEW THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MAJEK THE RAINMAKER:
1. Majek Fashek various translations of his name Fasheke (Ifa-Kii-she-eke) include “high priest who does not lie”, “powers of miracles” and “(system or medium of) divination does not lie”.
2. After Majek’s parents separated, Fashek remained in Benin City with his mother and joined the choir in his local Aladura Church and learned to play the trumpet and guitar whilst composing songs for the choir.
3. In the early eighties Fashek, who at the time went by the stage name Rajesh Kanal, joined the group Jastix with McRoy Gregg, and was lead singer for Black Rice. They were best known as the in-house band on the show Music Panorama on NTA Benin City.
4. In 1988, shortly after Jastix disbanded Fashek, he began a solo career by releasing the album Prisoner of Conscience and became Nigeria’s top reggae artist after the song Send Down The Rain became the most popular song of the year.
5. In 1989, he won six PMAN awards, which included Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Reggae Artist of the Year.
6. After leaving Tabansi Records, he was signed to CBS Nigeria in the early 1990s and released So Long Too Long. In 1990 he was signed to Interscope Records and released the critically acclaimed album Spirit Of Love, produced by “Little Steven” Van Zandt.
7. Fashek played a supporting role in the 2000 Nollywood movie Mark of the Beast and starred in a commercial for non-alcoholic beverage Diamant.
8. In 2016, he performed in a comedy show (with more than ten thousand audiences in attendance) in Lagos, Nigeria, with a roundly power-filled and soul-lifting performance.
9. In December 2016 Fashek contributed the song “We Are Not Afraid” to a video featuring 200 celebrities to raise funds for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
10. During the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, he was unhappy about the Nigeria-South Africa crisis. He recalled that he did a song Free Mandela and it helped back then.