Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sonny Okosuns (1947-2008)

According to Nigerian gossip blogger Niyi Tabiti, Sonny Okosuns died this morning (apparently at Howard University Hospital in Washington D.C.).

Damn, yo... I was just preparing my tribute post for tomorrow, too.

Rest in peace, Ozziddi soldier!


Kalakuta moziak said...

I love you brother for your insipration...i gat a called this morning from Ras Kimono u are gone..
Kalakuta Mozak Efojie

N.I.M.M.O said...

'Ozi Di' - (There is a message).

This was a message many of us did not want to hear even though the man had been ill for quite some time. From the pictures taken during his last interview with a newspaper in Lagos, he looked very frail and weak. But he had a message. A final message it was.

I guess we can now add another line to the song 'African Soldier'.

'... Sunny Okosuns African Soldier .. silala sila silala ..

We pray GOD grant his family and indeed all his fans the fortitude to bear this loss.

John B. said...

Really sorry to hear this.

Anonymous said...

It is a great loss but we give God the glory. I just saw an interview with him on he was such a God loving man may he rest in perfect peace.

Anonymous said...

I met Sonny Okosun while recording at his Ogba studios and residence in July 2005. Like every other Nigerian product of the 70's i had grown up on a steady diet of Ozidi sounds. I will never forget when my dad came back from work with a copy of Okosun's legendary „Papa's Land" album sometime in 1976, i was fascinated by the unconventional artwork, intrigued by his lyrics and melodious voice. His strong grooves, massive horn section and politically charged lyrics ignited a strong feeling of connection in me. Here was an artists who sang the soundtrack to the images of Brixton riots and anti apartheid protest rallies that flashed into our living room via NTA news. Although i was only a kid, i could tell from his delivery and the power of his music that there was something urgent, a crises that needed to be addressed and he was the ordained minister of information. The voice of the voiceless Namibians, Mozambicans, Zimbabweans and black south Africans. I quizzed and drilled my poor parents for answers, desperately pleading for them to explain how whites could go against blacks in such a brutal and inhumane manner. It just didn't make sense in my world where my German mother and Nigerian father looked to me like the most normal couple on the planet. Little did i know that i was being sensitized and prepared for what i would eventually come to understand as racism years later in Europe.
From then on i became an official fan. Whenever Sonny Okosun was on television performing in one of his funky warrior outfits or declaring „Fire in Soweto" i was sure to be caught dancing and singing like a mad man. I adored him like millions of my fellow country men and women.
i eventually met my long time musical Hero through my friend Alariwo(of Afrika fame). He had suggested we try out Okosun's Studio for a production I had started with Adewale Ayuba. At first i wasn't trilled. I wasn't sure if it would meet my standards (talk less of that of my "sophisticated" German sound engineer Haijo Krol), furthermore i feared his presence would be disruptive and contra productive. After all i had met numerous Nigerian and foreign artists who held court like kings believing they are the centre of the universe; simply put crazy Megalomaniacs. Still i gave my manager Tony Owodimoh a go ahead and he booked a one week session.
Right from the first day i stepped into Okosun's compound i could feel the aura of the free spirited artists it was written all over the place. There was a church ( a modest open structure), a crazy monkey who kept harassing both dogs and visitors, all kinds of animals and a beehive of activity. with adults and kids scattered all over and a relaxed Sonny Okusun who was pretty composed amidst the whole madness. He had a warm and generous spirit. From what I saw life had treated him well, he looked gracefully dignified and content. What struck me the most was that kids, adults, church members and employees alike all acted carefree around him. They didn't have that intimidating and terrifying look on their faces, the kind you see whenever you visit friends, family or you're invited to functions. The unwritten Nigerian class law that relegates the have-nots and powerless to the lower rungs of the social ladder did not apply everyone was equal and deserved to be treated as such.
Recording in Sonny Okosun's studio was quite an experience. There was a special vibe you felt in the recording booth and in the lounge. It didn't have the state of the art mixing board neither the latest Macintosh computer or microphones but still you felt like you where in Abbey Road . There was an energy all over the place and i was keen to tap from the source.
We accomplished our mission as planned, flying back to Germany with excellent talking drum recordings, vocal tracks and the feeling that we had something very special in our hands. Eight months later the album which we titled "Fuji Satisfaction" was awarded the Kora Awards in South Africa. Somehow deep inside i knew it was destined to happen (that it would become this big i did not expect) i knew Okosun had his hands in it (consciously or unconsciously) He had allowed us to connect to his vibe, he had blessed our music in his modest and subtle way.
Today 24 hours after his passing i will go back to my „Papa's Land" album which i now own as a reissue on compact disc blasting it out as loud as i can, i will sing on with the musical maestro chanting „We want to know who owns the land, who owns papa's land". I will cry for another Hero gone, a freedom fighter, a father, a strong believer in the spirit of brotherhood, a silent and humble revolutionary. And i will scream out my anger, I will rage at Nigeria, Nigerians and it's leaders for letting Sonny Okosun waste, for not coming to his aid when he desperately searched for funds to treat the cancer that was slowly pushing him to his grave.

Sun re o!

Ade Bantu

Comb & Razor said...

thanks so much for sharing that with us, Bantu...

(and i'm looking forward to hearing some more stuff from the Academy too!)

mbekwe samson said...

so sorry,
but thanks be to God, as he sang "what a great change since i met God" he has now changed to glory. sonny is dead but his message is still alive for the living to prepare for their own turn.