“We don’t need no Babylon law for it is man-made; all we need is Jah’s ten commandments. The Babylon law could be treated any way, but Jah’s commandments you don’t have to escape…”
I listened to this song “preach” from a radio. It commanded me to hop in an athletic fashion. Yes, I dusted off my rickety steps and moved to the groove. It has been a long time I did that. Why? Millennial songs – most especially Nigerian – do not titillate me because of their vacuity.
The song that “raptured” me was done by Orits Wiliki. He called it Ten Commandments. It was one of his hit songs in the 80s album -Tribulation. Wiliki also dished out – in a smorgasbord of hits – mind-stirring songs like Conqueror and Fight the Fire.
That was when reggae music was “the kingdom.” From the late 70s to the 90s, the genre of music had so much potency, oomph, vibe, and groove. Perhaps, its greatest power was its attunement to the conditions of the dregs.
Reggae music in days of yore was leavened with strong messages which resonated with Nigerians under the jackboot of the military.
Sadly, it is no longer celebrated by young Nigerians who prefer to listen to mostly vacuous songs in the “afro hip hop” and “afrobeats” categories.
Besides Wiliki, here are some Nigerian reggae greats who are now relics.
Although, Majek tried to revive his asphyxiated career, his “demons” stood in the way of the resurrection. He is, perhaps, one of the most recognisable voices in Nigerian reggae.
Besides the popular song Send down the rain, Majek incarnated wonder in many other songs like Kpangolo, Majek inna New York, So long, Religion is Politics, Holy spirit, Little Patience, Africa Unity, and I am not afraid.
His least celebrated song, which he wrote and performed for the 2008 Hollywood movie Fool’s Gold,” is Love and Affection. The song is a masterpiece and a mellifluous diet for lovers.
Hear him: “Silver and gold, I have not to give to you girl; material things, I have not to give to you girl; money and suites, I have not to give to you girl; all I have for you, all I got for you is my love and affection.
“It has been a long time we have been together baby; sharing every moment together; I hope this our love will last forever; I can move your mountain, you can move my mountain; let’s share this love, let’ share this love baby, I will take you to the dream land….”
Indubitably, Majek is a living legend; it will not be out of place to say that he does not pull the musical strings of most young Nigerians today.
Kimono held a cloud of musical influence over Nigeria in the 90s. His songs were danceable and easy to chew.
Remember this song? “Rhumba stylee, (stylee…), dis a one na rhumba (rhumba…).” Yes, it was a popular Kimono song. It was on the lips of everybody, and it “grooved” the hips of everybody.
Kimono also did “conscious” songs like Give me likle sugar, and Natty get jail. Perhaps, one of his most “conscious” efforts is the song, Under pressure, which sounds the plight of the suffering lees.
The singer has performed in both local and international events – even alongside Inner Circle, the international reggae band. But now, it appears his musical candle is dim.
He no longer headlines big musical events as he did in the past.
Who remembers Kimono, please?
The Mandators were a reggae band comprising Victor Essiet and Peggy Essiet – a couple. Although, they later separated, the duo made great music together. The band burgeoned in the 80s and in the early 90s. Their album Crisis was a huge hit, and their musical fortunes soared.
Their most popular songs are Rat Race, and Inflation. Their brand of reggae was root rock, which was the generalissimo at the time.
The Mandators went out of “circulation” after Essiet migrated to the United States (US). And Peggy later died.
Essiet has made teetering efforts to revive the sunken band, but Nigerians are now taken by the new musical trend.
The Mandators are now a relic.
Other forgotten “reggae heavyweights” who are worthy of mention are Blackky, Daniel Wilson, Buster Douglas Yellowman, and Evi-Edna Ogoli.
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