A day before announcing his intention to quit journalism, notable showbiz writer, Azuka Jebose’s parting piece sparked venom. In a raging 3, 193 word article, the veteran writer and showbiz entrepreneur took troubled Nigerian reggae artiste, Majek Fashek to the cleaners, opening a can of worms that has been effervescent for about 10 years
Jebose was responding to an interview Majek granted a Nigerian newspaper in which he and a colleague, Charles Novia, were accused of defrauding the singer of his money and music royalties.
“I want Nigerians to please help me stop Charles Novia and Azuka Jabose from defrauding me. A lot has been happening, which I am giving a little tip. I have never had contract with Charles Novia. He put me in trouble with my American boss, even the Little Patience album; I did not receive a penny from it. The song was recorded by Coral Music, Los Angeles… Azuka is full of scandal. I have never had contract with them and they have no right to negotiate my business; they have been using me for too long,” said Majek who also challenged soul singer, Timi Dakolo of copyright infringement. “I also need Timi Dakolo to present the management he paid to and how much by going to use my song and earning money from iTunes and making money from ‘Send Down the Rain’,” he said.
This was not the first time Majek was accusing Jebose and Novia of defrauding him, but perhaps for the troubled nature of the singer, they decided to dismiss the accusations until Jebose’s snapping article of December 30, 2016 which he titled ‘A Prisoner Without Conscience’.
“Majek accused me of fraud. He attacked me publicly with vitriolic statements that were lies and hurtful. He further stated that I was a cab driver in America and he had been helping me survive,” said Jebose who gave graphic details of how he reconnected with the singer in 1997 when he was “on a mushroom mediocre national tour of America” and how messy the business reunion had been since then.
“It is time to respond; said Jebose, who said “chose to ignore his antics because a lot of people claimed Majek is insane so we must ignore him.”
“I didn’t know Majek would be in Raleigh until a friend called to inform me,” said the America-based writer. “That summer night, I came to Rocking Reggae early and Majek’s band was performing sound checks when I arrived. I asked after Majek from Mr. Donovan. He directed me to his then manager, Charles Dagastino. I walked up to Dagastino, excited and told him I really would love to see Majek. I had not seen him for over seven years. Mr. Dagastino directed me to a parked 15 passenger Ford van. Inside the van, Majek was sleeping on one of the benches of the Van. A superstar sleeping in a Van was shock and awe. Majek welcome me into his Van, barely awoke. He was gracious. He asked I stayed behind and we chatted, a catch-up moment between two friends, separated by the hustles of the times, then. By the end of the night, we had exchanged phone numbers. That was how we stayed connected for years.
“Majek called me about three times every day. He called at 7a.m some days, then at 2p.m and 8p.m. There are different personalities associated with each calls and times. I enjoyed Majek in the mornings: that was the Majek that was sobered, calmed natural, innocent, helpless and without any influences. Majek opened up during those morning calls about his life and misbehaviors, about the problems with his life, the challenges, the demons and how his mother’s death contributed to his instability in life. I was a great listener. Sometimes, I cried, just listening to him. His phone calls in the afternoons were mostly to demand for money.”Jebose, I beg I need some money. I never eat since morning. Wire me Western Union”. My records at Western Union would show and tell how frequent I sent Majek money as a brother and friend.
“Majek was careless about the success of his Nigerian entry, Little Patience, until Charles Novia pushed us to visit Nigeria. When the CD was released, I called Majek that his latest work was raving the music scene in Nigeria. But each time he called, he was incoherent, undisciplined and reacted erratically to our conversations.”Majek are you drunk?” I would ask most times. “Jebose why are you sweating me?”
“Okay call me when you are ready to discuss serious issues”. I would get frustrated and hang up the phone.
“In 2005, I went to Nigeria to reposition The Mandators. Charles Novia visited the media conference at Night Shift. Charles and I reconnected with the Majek project. When the ThisDay music fest was about to happen, my friend, Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo, asked if I would attend. I told him I needed Nduka Obaigbenna’s contact because I wanted Majek to perform at the festival… Few hours later, Novia called excitedly and inform me that Majek would be one of the headliners of the concert…
“We arrived at Nigeria one day late because Majek and I were thrown out of the plane in Memphis, Tennessee. Majek got drunk in transit and was misbehaving, trashing everyone and oozing alcohol…
“Throughout my relationships with Majek, I offered him management contracts and he refused. My ex-wife was a Legal secretary. She worked for one of the best law firms in this city. She was concerned about Majek’s residuals and royalties from his past recordings:” Why are you giving superstar money all the time. Where are his royalties to help him live?” She always asked. I called Majek and asked him about his royalties from Mango, Putumayo and other known labels that published his music? Majek had no coherent responses. Imagine a Nigerian huge reggae star that had performed and recorded with biggest world labels and world music stars, not able to have a consistent royalty from his music. Majek told me so many stories and accused a lot of lawyers of stealing from him. I asked him to send me whatever papers, contracts he had signed in the past so I could read and study them. Contracts do expire. Papers have a life span. But Majek would get angry and hang up the phone…
“In 2006, I was extremely frustrated with Majek and his lifestyle. I approached my friend, Tony Okoroji, for assistance with regards to helping Majek with sustainable living. “Jebose, the best you can do for him is registering him with COSON. His works would be protected and he would be paid royalties”. I registered Majek that day, using my address in North Carolina and listing Rita, his ex-wife as next of kin, incase Majek suddenly died. That same year, late Sonny Okosuns and Kris Okotie at various times encouraged me to bring Majek to their churches for serious prayers and spiritual healings. I informed Majek of these good deeds from concerned colleagues. He abused them: ‘Jebose, na dem dey mad’…”
With a voice of finality, Jebose said Nigerians must stop feeling sorry for Majek. He said: “Nigerians must stop wasting any financial assistance on Majek. He has a catalogue of music that could enrich his generation just as Fela’s generation. Let him be useful to his family rather than manipulate us. He is no longer a star, but a pathetic waste. Nigeria’s music scene terrain has changed. Majek is a homeless street pan handler star. How many people has Majek helped with his music? How many charity events has he ever performed? How many benefit concerts has he ever performed for the less privileged? None, because Majek is always the less privileged.”