The story of Majek Fashek

BY the time he died on June 1, aged 57, Majekodunmi Faseke,  or simply Majek Fashek to his distraught fans all over the world, had lived his life to full circle. Of course, he was not  an old man, but he had arguably seen it all. From the low, deprived, humble beginnings of childhood and the boisterous struggling years of adolescence to the peak of prominence and global fame, then back to the ebb of existence, Majek Fashek had seen it all. Not many older persons could claim to have fumbled and tumbled through life than the man fondly referred to as the Rainmaker.

He was born in 1963 to the Faseke family of Ilesa, Osun State. His mother however hailed from Edo State, which explains the influence of the Edo experience on his music. His music talents manifested early: he joined his mother both in church and among the Olokun worshippers. He learnt to play the guitar and the horns and composed songs for the local Aladura church that he attended. With some others, he formed a band known as the Jastix which invariably became the house band in the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Benin’s Music Panorama, sometimes offering services for other musicians like the defunct Mandators . In 1987, he went on a solo career and dropped his earlier stage name, Rajesh Kanal, opting for Majek Fashek as a shortened form of his real name. Instant success trailed his efforts in the stable of a local music label which recorded and marketed him.

His first album, Prisoner of Conscience, blew up the charts, garnering virtually all the awards in the music industry. And after he had reached the peak locally, the international market beckoned on him and it was time to shift base. Leaving the local label, Majek Fashek signed up for the label which could expand his reach and burnish his  image. Among his many offerings, the track, Send down the rain, still holds fans spellbound in the dance halls till date. For him, it was indeed such a roller coaster ride on the crest of fame and fortune: his various shows were sellouts on a regular basis. He featured on many night shows on the national TV stations in the United States and his net worth buoyed exponentially. His reputation was also magnified as he had collaborations with other international music stars, releasing many best-selling songs  and international chart busters.

But then there was a snag: a few years ago, the rumour mill had it that Majek Fashek was broke and battling drug addiction. As he went in and out of rehab centres, it was clear that he needed help, both financially and emotionally. If people rallied around him financially, the emotional aspect of the rehab process was in doubt. His very few outings depicted him in a pitiful frame. He looked forlorn, emaciated and woebegone. Years of drug addiction had taken an irreparable toll. The Rainmaker was swimming against the tide of rebirth and renewal. He nevertheless had a few gigs where fans tasted, however briefly, a little of his creative genius.

Majek Fashek was clearly one of Nigeria’s international music exports but sadly, he did not get a firm grip on himself when fame and fortune came. As noted by the international soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, talent is not enough; one also needs discipline for success to finally crystallize, and to remain at the pinnacle. In his eventual demise, Majek Fashek was clearly the Nigerian metaphor: talented, resourceful, but wasted.



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