Ras Kimono: I will call you tomorrow

Ras Kimono

By Azuka Jebose

Rasman, so this is how you anchored your last live performance? On a lazy Sunday in June? “Nwa ba”, it is humid here, the sun is tearing earth’s morning. I will not mourn, not this June… No! I will reflect on our younger years and what happened to us along our new hope road in life.  Yesterday, Alex Zitto and I chatted on the phone for about an hour. We reasoned about you. Last week, you told Zitto, during your last call, that after you arrived here, my two friends would “go and visit Jebose in North Carolina”. That was yesterday. Our conversations are still fresh. So I will not mourn because you are still coming to visit me. I am waiting!!!…

This morning, you decided the last encore without applause. You didn’t invite us. You did not tell your family, friends and fans about a secret eternal garden performance. You chose your song, time and venue.  Ras man, did you forget that “na Kimono dem want?” You left us to romanticise about unexpected final bow to life and living. Oh, Okwudili Onwubuya (death is sorrow)!

We were pathfinders to our destinies in life. Along with our pleasant valley of struggles and hustles, we became brothers: those were in the 80s. You hustled every space in the creative industry. You had the gift and glamour of young hard working entertainer and reggae toaster. I was the chronicler of happenstances… You were determined to share your talent and unafraid of the challenges. So we walked along the milky ways of recording studios: from Japex Studios on Anthony Village, snaked through Ottor Records, Tabansi and EMI records, seeking future, fame and finance. Rasman, you sacrificed your tattered youth days for recognition and acceptance. You pleaded with music business to just “gimme likkle sugar for me tea”. The “likkle sugar” was an audience while your tea was your profound rhythms, lyrics and style of reggae music. These record studios were our hard rock cafe until PolyGram Records reached out and signed you “ina Rumba style”.

I watched and sometimes walked the road to Stardom Boulevard with you. Did you remember our weekend musings at Magama Nite Club Bariga axis, where you created a first cult following? The midnight hours at Caban Bamboo at Hotel bobby Benson, the naughtiness inside Klass Nite Club, Chez de Gracias Nite Club, Lords and Ace (later renamed Ozone) nite clubs? Oh, Kimono, how about our chances at Floating Buka Club inside a permanently docked ship by the waterfront of Marina… We floated our passion for music and fell in floating love, serenaded by your toast live music and the cool smooth Marina breeze.

Your music and lyrics became our weapons against police and military brutalities and marginalisation. You arrived at the most unique times in our lives. You were bold, rugged and UNDER PRESSURE. We were just ordinary everyday Nigerians whose lives were compressed by economic mismanagement by our past leaders. You gave us hope, told our stories with brilliant dub master beats and tempo. We gyrated. We listened. We danced.

Few years after we disconnected, we found each other in America, their Americas. The story I will tell tomorrow. It is late now. I must let you rest from today’s shenanigans. You are tired. “Nwa ba” Kachifueh (goodnight). I will call you tomorrow morning.