Majek Fashek: Journey From Bob Marley’s Heir-Apparent To Reggae’s ‘Fallen God’ #SavingMajek


Editor’s Note: Everyday of this week beginning today, Monday July 13, ExpressNG editorial team will provide fresh insights installmentally into the spiral journey of Nigerian Reggae sensation, Majek Fashek. These are documentary accounts that was gleaned from those who knew the troubled singer from the onset when he first appeared on NTA Benin alongside bandmate Amos ‘McRoy’ Osifo in the 70s’. We also initiated a unique hashtag #SavingMajek which hopefully will go on to become a symbol or ‘Redemption Song’ of sorts for the ‘Rainmaker’.



In the first decade of Post-Marley era, a bona fide Rastafarian or a dye-in-the-wool reggae fans would hardly doubt that Majek Fashek was Marley’s heir – hugely talented on a scale close to the Jamaican singer, his voice so uncannily similar to that of the departed reggae maestro, the Nigerian and the Jamaican were both cut from the same mould.
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Whatever doubt you have fizzles when you listen to his version of “Redemption Song.” His brand of reggae took the world by storm. At reggae concerts across the world, from Jamaica to Cote d’Ivoire, he was the favourite headline act. What’s more, he had recorded a song that has a touch of mystique.Send Down the Rain.” It was known that if you take Majek to the Sahara or Kalahari Desert and if he chose to sing that song, heaven will acquiesce. Rain must fall. He was a magician and “Send Down the Rain” was his magic wand. The Nigerian media aptly nicknamed him The Rainmaker. At the peak of Majek’s reign, his closest competitor on the continent, South African Lucky Dube played second fiddle. Yes, Dube was a genius, but Majek was a demigod of reggae.

For some time, his flame of fame burnt vigorously. Send Down The Rain won him six PMAN awards. Fortune found him. The first Black African musician to appear on the David Letterman Show in 1992 where he performed live his song So Long, his fame spread beyond the shores of Nigeria and outside the reggae universe. America beckoned and off he went to God’s Own Country, to greener pasture, to greater glory. In a country, firmly by hip hop and R&B, Majek’s songs enjoyed airwaves from coast to coast. In the vexing days of the Rodney King saga, Majek’s song “Fire” was a rallying anthem. He had the American Dream in his pocket. You can say that again.

Abruptly, his symphony became discordant. Like in the Greek tragedy, what came next was reversal of fortune. A fall from the Olympian height of fame. Majek plummeted – and he is still plummeting – to penury. A man who once had it all lost it all. Fame, fortune, friends and family. Abruptly, he veered out of the orbit of stardom onto a dark trajectory. Like a ship lost deep in space these past 12 years, finding his way back to his own galaxy becomes an indecipherable riddle. A lost star. Jinxed and jaded.

The Charles Novia-produced 2005 Little Patience album and the 2011 single video on Youtube, “Jah Revelation” at different times gave his fans false hopes of a renaissance, a misleading notion that he was close to finding his way out of the labyrinth. Instead of getting better, he worsened by the day. Once a hunk, Majek is now a husk, an absolute alcoholic – dressed like hobo, looking lost, scavenging trash cans like alley cats, begging for penny to buy tots of spirits to whet his appetite. Two weeks ago, a pitiable picture of him appeared on Facebook with a plea post: “I will look into your eye and say I am sorry to my fans my loved ones… I don’t want to die in poverty, help me now.

How did Majek arrive at this nadir? Those who knew when he was the poster boy of reggae cannot help but empathize with his grief. While we know the depth to which he has fallen, none can fathom the gravity of what has befallen him. This much we know – Majek travelled on that proverbial self-destructive path frequently followed by great talents, who like supernova burn brightly and suddenly burn out. In one single lifetime, a man once adored, even revered by Rastafarians has been transformed from a reggae god to golliwog, foisted with a fate as worse as they come in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Stripped of fame, soiled with shame, now seeking a redemption.


To be continued tomorrow –

Two years ago, I met him at Airport base, Ikeja, Lagos. We had a refreshing interview session surrounded by the A-Plus Global management team. That day, I found him listening to “Dekha Ek Kwab”, an Indian song from the Bollywood movie Silsila. He said he derived inspiration from such music. He took his guitar, expertly strummed the strings, played Marley’s So Jah Says, not one of my seeds shall sit in the sidewalk and beg for bread…His voice vintage Marley. That moment, Majek was sane and savvy…


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