By Eric Elezuo
Could you believe that even age mates of late Majek Fashek believed he was 71 years, and was born in 1949. They claimed that was what the official record said…such naivety. One day, someone would tell them something different from their names, and they will believe because one supposedly ‘impeccable’ source has erroneously written it. I still wonder what we do with our brains, even with claims that we have been to school. Well, that is a story for another day!
He was only 25 years in 1988 when his glory filled not only the airwaves but the nook and crannies of the Nigerian music and entertainment circle. It didn’t stop there, Majekodunmi Fasheke, known as Majek Fashek for short, took his epic arrival into stardom more than a niche further, covering the world with his own form of ‘Righteousness’. He dished out hits after hits, making him the epicentre of Reggae music in Nigeria, competing favourably with the likes of Alpha Blonde and Lucky Dube in the Africa continent, and world icons like Robert Nester Marley, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaac and many more. New York Daily News hailed him as the spiritual heir to Bob Marley.
Majek Fashek occupied the late 80s and early 90s like a colossus, as his hit album, Prisoner of Conscience with the track ‘Send Down the Rain’, became a national anthem of some sort. Every child could sing the song; it was on the lips of every adult. And of course, it was interwoven with childlike chorus which heralds the arrival of mothers after a long absence. It was made for all ages; a product of long term planing. More so, its prophetic orientation and spiritual undertone made it a toast for all season.
In a 2013, when Fashek’s former bandmate and cousin, Amos McRoy, granted an interview with now defunct Entertainment Express Newspaper, he claimed that the singer told him the song ‘Send Down The Rain’ had a spiritual force behind it.
“That was one of the things he told me in Cote d’Ivoire. Based on what he told me, I think he ‘crossed the line’ before he released the album,” McRoy said in that interview.
“In Cote d’Ivoire, I asked him certain questions. His reply was: ‘Amos, are you that naive? I released Send Down The Rain, everywhere that song was played, rain must fall. Even in summer while we were on US tour, I played Send Down The Rain and rain fell. I released Free Mandela and that month Mandela was released. I did fire (Majek Beware) the week that record was released was the week the Rodney King incident happened. That song, Fire o! Fire o! was played for almost two months in all the TV and radio stations in Los Angeles during that Rodney King episode. So, are you that naive? Don’t you reason?
He practically started a musical revolution in 1988, and by 1989, he carted away six awards at the PMAN Awards including two of the most important nominations; the prestigious Album of the Year and Song of the Year categories. His Send Down the Rain competed in the category of millennial hits such as Nico Mbago’s Sweet Mother and Onyeka Onwenu’s One Love in not only national, but international appeals.
One thing is obvious, no Nigerian song has been so mythologized as ‘Send Down the Rain’ and by extension, Holy Spirit. He composed every song personally, and gave Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ a touch of excellence when he remixed it. No one can deny that Fashek was a legend. A typical example of one who came during his time, saw and conquered. Many believed he had room for more conquest if not for the self-destructive mode he put himself. Reports had it that he dabbled into spiritism, not drug use, and ruined a God-given career.
This as much was confirmed by McRoy thus:
“Truth is Majek’s problem is spiritual. Majek strayed into spiritism.
“Majek’s problem is not drug-related. He took to alcoholism to get over his real problem. Failing to keep the rules of whatever he delved into, he started to hallucinate. He started seeing things. For instance, if he was in a room, he would tell you ‘open the door, open the window’. If you tell him the air condition is on, he would say “Can’t you see them spirits; you want to trap the spirits. Men, let the spirits move around.”
In the peak of his career in 1991, Fashek visited New York for the first time, and that was when he released the track ‘Mashek Fashek Inna New York’. The excited attached to the song would reveal his clear human nature, as he x-rayed life in the city that never sleeps in comparison to what is obtainable in other cities of the world. He was practically surprised to see that there were homeless people, beggars and destitute in New York.