On Sunday June 10, Nigerians were greeted with news of the passing of the Rub a Dub Master, Ras Kimono. He died in a Lagos early in the day after slumping the night before at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport.
The reggae star, born Ukeleke Elumelu Onwubuya in Asaba, Delta State started his music career alongside Majek Fashek, Amos McRoy Jegg and Black Rice Osagie with whom he performed weekly as part of The Jastiz band.
He shot into limelight in 1989 alongside his Massive Dread Band with his debut album, ‘Under Pressure’ which was released under the label, Premier Music. The album also included popular tracks like ‘Natty Get Jail,’ ‘Kill Apartheid’ and ‘Gimme Likkle Sugar’ with themes that dwelt on police brutality and bad governance. A song which endeared him to many was his hit single, ‘Rhumba Style.’
The artiste went on to release three other albums, ‘We No Wan’ (1989), ‘What’s Gwan’ (1990) and ‘Rub a Dub’ (1990). In 2017 he finished work on a four-track album.
His fame was not limited to Nigeria as he was also featured on the international stage at a time when Reggae was the most popular music genre in Nigeria. He went on tours around Africa, the United States of America and Europe.
‘What’s Gwan’ will be ever green for his fans across Africa who remember its success and the sensitivity of its themes which included legislation of marijuana, Apartheid and Colonialism.
Works of the music maestro were greatly influenced by events in his life. Experiences of inequalities he went through, unraveled the voice within him making him one for the voiceless. He received a number of recognitions in his lifetime.
While he is arguably Nigeria’s first reggae act to go the whole nine yards with patois in his lyrics, he wasn’t known to have gone all the way with the habits Rastafarians are usually identified with like marijuana and was a vegetarian for almost three decades.
He took a break from the music scene when he relocated with his family to the United States of America and returned in 2009 becoming a member of the Copyright Organisation of Nigeria (COSON).
He made a comeback into the industry giving various performances. To mark his 37th anniversary on stage, there were plans in the pipeline for a concert billed for later in the year. He celebrated 60 on May 9. – Daily Trust.