By Desmond Ekwueme
Reggae is one special kind of music that changed the world. It’s Apostles come in different forms, acts and styles….
Some are highly “spiritual”. Some are very philosophical. Some are very mystical. Some are realists. Some are social crusaders. Some are humanists. Some are activists….Some are nationalists. Some are freedom fighters. Some are preachers. Some are teachers. We can go on and on. The list of who the Disciples of Reggae are is inexhaustible.
From Bob Nesta Marley to Ewart Beckford (aka U Roy) Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Peter Tosh, Sizzla, Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Johnny Nash, Eric Donaldson and Lucky Dube among others rocked the world with reggae.
But today, the list of reggae artistes who used the brand of music to change the world is shrinking by the day. All the above are gone…and no replacements can be found.
Aside the fact and pain that death is stealing them away one after the other from the world, it hurts more to note that those posing as replacements are merely pretenders, who keep recycling and reproducing the old times of the aforementioned legends.
It is not just that the shoes of the legends are too big to be filled….but that there are just no one out there ready to replicate what these icons had done through Reggae music to and for the world.
Not even their children, siblings or band members could follow their remarkable footprints to keep Reggae alive.
Here in Nigeria, the disappearance of Reggae artistes makes one wonder if, it is the hatred for this type of music by musicians or lack of motivation that is bringing about this extinction.
We used to have Orits Wiliki, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek, Victor Essiet and Mandators among others thrilling Reggae lovers with great hits. Multi-talented artistes like 2Face Idibia will periodically spice up his music which isn’t Reggae anyways with one other two Reggae beats or tracks just to keep lovers of Reggae hopeful. Yet the gap is noticed and getting wider by day. Reggae and its artistes are disappearing.
Most of these musicians are either late or have left the scene for various reasons ranging from age to lack of motivation among others.
From the look of things, Reggae may be gone eventually by the end of this decade. No one is spirit-filled to get closer to Jah and drag down the kind of motivation or inspiration that can churns out a hit song.
Perhaps one of the reasons Reggae is dying is linking it with marijuana which many clergy preach against today.
Again there is the systematic and technical dropping of Reggae from top music awards like Grammy as no Reggae artiste has come near winning anything around it after the demise of Late Lucky Dube.
Corporate sponsors and multinational corporation seeking artistes as brand Ambassadors don’t consider Reggae artistes.
In all, lovers of Reggae are either quitting the music or living with the legendary hits of the past. But that is not enough as there is no artiste to be identified with as Reggae icon of this era.