by Charles Novia
Majek Fashek, the legendary reggae star, has been trending all day after a blogger and investment banker, Joseph Edgar, chanced upon him at Fadeyi, in Lagos this morning and wrote a moving tale about the experience.
As is wont with such stories about Majek whenever they crop up, my phone and email were busy all day with people enquiring about him and perhaps genuinely concerned about his plight.
Their enquiries to me is understandable. I managed Majek Fashek for 5 years, 2005 to 2010, re-engineering his career on my label, November Records and tried as much as possible to bring him back to the limelight all through those years. It was a passionate and selfless adventure. Majek was like a god to me in my growing up years and it was ironical that fate or destiny trussed his rehabilitation on me for a number of years.
My life, my business, everything stood still all those years for Majek. I wanted him to be healed. I wanted him well. He was too much of a talent to be allowed to waste. I fought for him, struggled for him and with him. I sacrificed everything for him. It was a mission and a vision for me. Thank God for a wonderful wife who understood and supported me in my quest to help the legend and never for one day complained.
What didn’t I do for my brother? And I don’t say this to elicit any sympathy but just out of pure love and angst; a mix of emotions I feel right now. It’s as if it was all wasted. Or that I wasted my years within those 5 years. But I regret not one day. It was my destiny. It was a burden bigger than I could bear but which I had to carry.
Some of my friends who were with me in that trudge of purpose can attest to our collective sacrifice for him. Frank Bami, Azuka Jebose, Pst Amos Mcroy, Jeta Amata, Dede Mabiaku and June Jack. Professional media gurus such as Alozie Mark Uzoukwu, Nseobong Okon-Ekong, the late Amadi of Vanguard, Justice Atigogo, Callivision Cally Ikpe and numerous others were in the project with me on this. We tried to get him back.
I ensured that he got listed in the first THISDAY MUSIC FESTIVAL in 2006 where I fought tooth and nail just to have him on the bill. Dede also put in a good fight. I would always respect Nduka Obaigbena who listened to my plea on the phone and gave the final approval when some people had doubts. Majek was based in America then and Nduka listed him as a foreign artiste where Majek was scheduled to fly on the same chartered aircraft with the foreign acts, Snoop Doggy, Beyonce, Busta Rhymes etc. Azuka would tell more of that trip as I got him to drop everything in America to escort Majek safely to Nigeria on that trip.
Majek is like a masquerade. An extremely bohemian act with frustrating demands but a lovable childlike disposition when he’s in the flip mode. He’s medically schizophrenic. He was an artistic Jekyll and Hyde. Gosh! He was trouble! But we all took it all in our stride. We all understood.
We understood that he had his devils to chase out. That he had sunk into a deep hole which he himself had struggled to crawl out of but needed our helping hands as well. We understood that deep spiritism mixed with helpless alcoholism had made him an opposite being; a guy who lived in his past and sees his present as his future. But we had to do what we had to do.
I am writing a book on my experiences with Majek. I don’t know when it would finish. I was going to shoot a movie on him and had started some measure of pre – production in America, when he got a bit jittery and asked me to stop, even after giving me the rights to tell that story.
‘Shoot it when I’m dead’ he said.
In my book, ‘ Nollywood till November’ I dedicated a whole chapter to Majek somewhat. But he needs a whole book.
What will I write in the book? My research are as haunting and painful as his travails.
Will I write about the lovely white lady who found me on facebook 5 years ago and told me she uses to be his girlfriend in the early 90s and saw him transform from the sweet, lovely fella to the edgy and moody creature he now is? Should I write about many of the top reggae international stars I have met over the years who told me how they revered and performed with Majek on the same stage?
Should I write about ominous threats I received from people I didn’t even know who would call call my phone then in 2005 and introduce themselves as ‘ Psychics’ or native doctors and warn me to ‘stay off Majek Fashek. You are dabbling into something bigger than you in the spirit world’. They would say.
But I’m not a man who is afraid of those kind of things. I do not fear the unknown. I embrace it. I had a mission. And these guys would never understand how one morning in 2004 I woke up and heard that small voice say ‘ Go find Majek and bring his message out.’ And I traveled round America for months to search for him. And found him.
Should I write about how Majek, upon my finding him in America and signing the record deal with him from his Manager, Charlie D’ Agostino in 2005, looked me solemnly in the eyes that night at an eatery and said;
‘ Brother Charles, you came from Africa for me. Jah sent you. But pray every midnight with Psalm 91. Because they will come fighting you. You are the vessel through which my message will spread in this dispensation’
I laughed it off. Like I said, I’m a man who embraces the unknown without fear. My heart and conscience are as clear as water and I trust too in the Higher Power of my Creator.
Should I write about when the album ‘Little Patience’ came out and broke sales records for our new label then and re-engineered his career? Should I write then about the ‘spiritual attacks’ as Majek predicted and how I never relented but carried on for years?
Until one morning in 2010. I knew my circle with him was complete. I had to move on. And I did.
So, when I read about people’s worries about his present state, I sigh. Majek’s cure starts from himself. He’s a great masquerade. Such people don’t have easy lives. They have pains to deaden.
Majek lives and his life is not your lesson to learn as such. It’s his to live, having learnt and loved and would linger with us.
It’s a ‘spiritual thing’. That’s what he calls it.
Charles Novia is an award-winning filmmaker. He is founder of November Productions and November Records. He shared this piece on his Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.