Nigeria and Kenya share a lot of things in common. Some bits of Nigerian history looks like Kenyan. For example, during the nineties of the last century, life was very difficult in Nigeria just as it was in Kenya. Between 1990-2000 Nigeria underwent worst of its political experiences, including the murderous tyrannical rule by Sani Abacha which killed Massoud Abiola and Ken Saro Wiwa.
This was also the time Kenya was under the buckle of Moi’s crest of dictatorship and police brutality which led to mysterious deaths of the likes of Stephen Andongosi, Robert Ouko and Father John Kaiser.
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During those days, there was no hope among the youths, the media was state-controlled and education had begun looking like an expensive waste of time. The most reliable source of solace was music. This was the time Africa was blessed with top musical talents like Ras Kimono, Lucky Dube, Eric Donaldson, Pat Shanka, Yvon Chakachaka, Alpha Blonde and Princes Julie Awino.
This presence of talented musicians made the life of the youths in Kenya to toy on four things; school, helping parents on the farm, reading post-colonial literature and listening to African music. Among the most cherished musician of the time was Ukeleke Onwubuya alias Ras Kimono for his song Under pressure.
This was a song that one could not resist, it was an obvious musical force that catapulted the young listeners into shaking their legs. Ras Kimono was a force, the source of solace amid the ocean of despair. His death is a deep gap, very difficult to be filled.
Ukeleke Onwubuya, popularly known as Ras Kimono, died on Sunday 10th June 2018. He died at the age of 60-years, he died at a hospital in Ikoyi. Ras Kimono was born in Asaba area in Delta State in North Western Nigeria, and this is where Ken Saro Wiwa was also born.
According to Mr Pretty Okafor, the President of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), the death of Ras Kimono is a big loss to the music industry in Africa and even in the world.
Ras Kimono is a musician who displayed some intellect. Just like Lucky Dube and Yvonne Chakachaka, most of his songs were in English and a few in the local language. Apart from Under Pressure, Kimono had other hits to his name. Some of them are; We No Wan In (1989), What’s Gwan In (1990) and Rub a Dub released in 1990.
Unblemished excellency in performing his musical work branded Kimono as a musician of his time. This made him win a myriad of prizes; one of them was City People Movie Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kimono came on the Nigerian music scene with significant force in 1989. Kimono’s musical styles, messages and content as well as instrumentals were influenced by poverty; inequality and hardship. These were the key challenges to any African youth in Nigeria under Abacha and in Kenya under Moi.
Kimono’s music confirmed a hypothesis that when people are under pressure of oppression, they either form a rebellion or a religion. Truly, the politically instigated hardships of Africa made Kimono’s music enjoy massive religious following.