I remember vividly late billionaire philanthropist and politician as well as the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, popularly called MKO’s very popular proverbs: “You can’t shave a man’s hair in his absence”, when issues relating to rehabilitating once upon a time reggae king in Nigeria, Majek Fashek, crop up.
There has been a spike in activity recently about helping Majek Fashek get back to his old maverick self again and many artistes of his generation, journalists and friends as well as people he had done business with in the past are championing this fresh campaign.
I read a fundraising is being organized by a popular Nigerian Disc Jockey living in the UK but that one is shrouded in some intrigues as the UK advocate of #BringMajekFashekBack is in doubt if he would agree to go into rehab and if the monies realized eventually would have to go to the hospital or a trusted associate to ensure he gets the needed treatment.
Chief Tony Okoroji, chairman of Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, one of the artistes of Majek’s generation (when the artiste was king of reggae in Nigeria) is also committed to the cause of rehabilitating the reggae icon, perhaps after he became a nuisance at last month’s COSON Roll of Honour event at the Airport Hotel. An obviously high Majek was floating drunkenly from one end of the hall to the other and at a point seizing the microphone from the comperes to make his own speech. He climaxed his ‘performance’ that night by conscripting Afro hip hop star Tu Face Idibia on stage to perform one of his hit songs back in the day; Holy Spirit. It took a lot of diplomacy to get him to calm down.
Perhaps this was what prodded Okoroji who with his COSON team put that fantastic event together, to kick start this ‘Save Majek’ initiative with a flowering piece he wrote some two weeks ago in his weekly column in this newspaper.
I have watched all the new moves to save Majek with some air of reservations. And I have asked this simple question in my mind over and over again; will Majek agree to be saved this time around?
You will be wondering why I have been asking this question in my mind for weeks now. In 2009, I was having my usual Friday night out at celebrity restaurant, O’jez inside the national stadium, Surulere. I was in the company of Nollywood stars such as Ejike Asiegbu, Charles Inojie, Leo Mezie, Zeb Ejiro and Lancelot Imasuen when around 11pm, in walked Majek Fashek in company of his then young chaperon, reggae singer Jahcub (Prince Wadada is his latest Man Friday). He was looking better than in the present, although still gaunt with sunken eyes and the same eerie appearance. The whole VIP section stood up to acknowledge the reggae legend. The owner of the celebrity restaurant, Chief Joseph Odobeatu personally supervised his staff as they waited on him like a king. Majek apparently to reciprocate the kind gesture performed another of his hit songs, ‘Send Down The Rain’. It was a very emotional moment for Lancelot Imasuen, a Nollywood producer of note who incidentally hails from the same state with the artiste and he had to exclaim: “This man is a legend!”
I wrote a touching piece in The Guardian back then like Okoroji’s and then I got a call some days after from a lawyer who was an agent of a multinational company (names withheld) asking about the whereabouts of Majek. I made some calls and found out he was living with Jahcub and sent the young singer’s mobile to the lawyer. I was elated, help was finally coming to the reggae icon through a story I wrote. But days after, I was deflated when the same lawyer called me to say Majek was infuriated that help was suggested for him. “He said his problem is not drug addiction, he said it is a ‘spiritual’ thing and that my clients are not equipped spiritually to understand the issues here. So in summary, he rejected my client’s offer.” I could feel the sadness in the lawyer’s voice over the mobile phone. I was sad too but summoned courage to thank the man and ended the conversation.
I later read in the papers how Majek rejected the offer of a ‘company’. He appeared proud about his decision, going by the tone of the interview.
About a year after, he reportedly abandoned rehab treatment midway and it made news headlines across the country. O’jez owner also tried to get him to go into rehab but he refused and stopped coming to the hangout, although they remained best of friends.
One will only hope Majek accepts this latest offer because the clock is ticking for the icon. He is sinking fast. His nuisance activity at every event he attends is becoming a huge embarrassment. Someone should sign off on him so that he can be forcefully taken for medical treatment. One does not need to be a doctor to know that his problem is medical; I refuse to buy into the ‘spiritual’ bull story he and his later day ‘friends’ are selling. The clock is ticking.
On The Prowl with Justin akpovi-esade, firstname.lastname@example.org