Reggae legend Ras Kimono dies at 60

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Ras kimono, the reggae legend who stormed the limelight in 1989 with  hits such as ‘What’s Gwan’ and ‘Rhumba Stylee’ died  Sunday at Lagoon Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos. 

He was aged 60. 

His death was confirmed by former COSON Board Chairman, Tony Okoroji.

Kimono who was scheduled to travel to US last night was on his way to the airport when he complained of uneasiness. He was quickly rushed to a hospital in Ikeja and was later transferred to Lagoon Hospital where he passed.


His death came as a shock to friends, family and loved ones.

“Alex Zitto and I just spoke about him on the phone yesterday,” said Azuka Jebose , a veteran entertainment journalist.

“Both of them planned to visit me in North Carolina when Kimono arrives only for me to wake up to the sad news of his demise.”

Born Okwudili Onwubuya, Kimono was very popular in the late eighties and nineties. He was a jolly good fellow whose passion for reggae music was unrivalled. Back in the day, he would hang out in Japex Studio, a popular reggae spot in Anthony Village. There he would watch reggae artistes performed and was soon given the chance to hold the microphone. 

With his dreadlocked hair and facial beard, Kimono carved a niche for himself as the King of reggae with hit songs such as ‘Rhumba Stylee’, ‘What’s Gwan’ and ‘Under Pressure’.  

He was among the generation of musicians who sang protests songs . Through his music, he addressed various social issues in the country; from poverty to discrimination, and colonialism in African countries.  Kimono soon became a voice to the disenfranchised Nigerian whose daily life was a struggle.  His songs became the ‘hard rock café’ for city dwellers.

He had his big break in 1989 when Polygram Studio released his first album, Under Pressure. The album was very successful and had raving hits such as ‘Natty Get Jail’ where Kimono taught his fans the swing dance. Rhumba Style was the massive hit of that album, receiving generous airplays.

The following year saw the release of What’s Gwan, another album that proved to be even more successful. With topics that tackled legalisation of marijuana, colonialism and ethnic wars, the album fetched greater fame for the artiste. He toured Africa, Europe and USA. His style of music was heavily influenced by Jamaican and native African sounds.

As protests music declined in the new millenium era, Kimono evergreen sounds still resonated among the youths.  He never failed to wow the audience each time he grabbed the microphone. At the last edition of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) Song Awards, he captivated the audience with his popular hit songs that many doubted if he ever left the music scene.

Kimono  who hailed from Onicha Olona in Delta state was said to have suffered from respiratory problems and apnea over the years. 


ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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An Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of A Senior Journalist with Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. He is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow (YALI) who studied at Clark Atlanta University on the Business and Entrepreneurship track. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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