Ras Kimono’s closest buddy, Orits Williki, amidst tears, on Wednesday, June 14, 2018, at the deceased Reggae star’s home in Isheri-Magodo, Lagos, shared with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s AZUH ARINZE his final moments as well as their plans to bury Kimono as a king. Excerpts…
You were one of the closest persons to late Ras Kimono. What can you tell us about him?
Kimono no late o…Kimono still liveth! There are a lot of things around that prove that he still lives. Rastarferians, we don’t die, we travel and transit to Zion. It’s like saying Fela died; Fela no die.
You were among the last set of people that saw him. Can you tell us your experience. Did he see death coming? Were there strange things that he did?
He said so much. He gave me all the signs, but I refused to accept them. He talked about these things casually. Kim is somebody who will tell you that he’s not afraid of death. He said he wonders why those that call themselves born again are afraid of death and that if you don’t die, how will you go to heaven? He said all manner of things naturally. So, you will not know when he’s actually passing a message. You know we are like infant twins from the same womb. Two to three weeks before he closed his eyes, we were together on tour, we separated on tour and we said let’s meet in Lagos…
Where were you people travelling to?
We played in Owerri on Friday, because one of our friends lost the mother-in-law. We left there the following day to Port-Harcourt, to Okrika and on Sunday we performed too. He said he will be in US on Thursday. So, I said yo men! He got to go back because of the few things he wanted to buy for his travel. But me, I said not yet because I still had one place to play in Umuahia. So, he left on Monday. Even when he touched down in Lagos on Monday evening, he called me. I said yo men, thank God for journey mercies and he said great. But he said that he’s feeling feverish and I said okay, but don’t take self medication, go and see your doctor. I even said to him if you don’t treat malaria, no airline will carry you. I just yabbed him and he said sure!
What happened between that Thursday and when he died?
It’s only now that I think about it seriously. Because there’s hardly any six hours that we don’t talk to each other. In fact, it’s such that whenever he’s not reachable, people always call me for confirmation. Same with Kimono too. So, for whatever happened that Tuesday, we didn’t speak to each other. On Wednesday when I came in, I called him that I was just touching down and he said cool. I asked him about his malaria and he said I am still drinking my medicine o! And I said to him you will be fine. On Thursday, I called concerning what we discussed on Wednesday evening and he said he’s not feeling too good. I said give your phone to Efe and I said to Efe, turn off his phone or keep it away from him (phone). Let him sleep from morning to evening, say 6pm, in order for him to be strong enough before going to the airport. By 8pm, I called him and he’s said he’s at the airport. I asked him what are you doing now and he said they were trying to check in, I said fine , that I will call back later. Apparently, I think he was having some issues at the airport with the B.A (British Airways) to carry him because he didn’t have a transit visa. That alone weakened him. That I am sure really broke him down instantly, because I knew how much pressure was on him to travel. So, when I called and the phone was switched off, I believed he had boarded. The following day which was Friday, very early, the wife called me and said come o! Your brother dey hospital and I said how can my brother be in the hospital; is it in America or in Nigeria? She said it’s in Nigeria here, at Lagoon Hospital and I said didn’t he travel again? She said no. He said immediately they got to the airport, that he was feeling dizzy, so she was the one that was actually running around. So, when he couldn’t travel, he now said let’s go back home so that by tomorrow we will sort it out. And from that time, he couldn’t walk again. When they got home, he sat on a chair, he said he wanted to take some tea and bread downstairs. The wife said to him the way I’m looking at you, you are not okay o…
So, that was how they got to the hospital?
They went to two other hospitals that rejected him before they got to Lagoon and Lagoon accepted him. I said to them that I am on my way, I’m coming. So, when I got there, I was expecting to see somebody laughing because we joke a lot. If you stay around us, you will know that it’s humour all the way. I jokingly yab him that old age is part of your problem and when I opened the door, I was shocked. I asked why the life support, how did it get to this extent in just how many hours? He couldn’t even talk to anybody. He was quiet, his eyes were wide open. He knew I was the one, but he couldn’t talk, but anytime he tried to say something, the meter dropped. I say make una allow this man sleep. For there, Kim started praying violently. In a language nobody understands. But I knew that at the end of every of his prayers, he said in Jesus name and we all supported with amen! And he will relax and then start all over again. It continued for over two hours. As that was going on, I started getting worried. I was scared and I requested they called me the doctor. So, the doctor came, I said to the doctor that since I came in here, we had used about four cylinders of 10 litres each of oxygen gas. I said what are we expecting from this point if we cannot get a balance at the moment, what is the guarantee that this thing is going to be stabilized? He said he had told the wife that this process is not an easy process, that it will take like three days or more, that is in this condition. But that we can take him to the higher IC Unit in Ikoyi; I’m not happy with that hospital. That was how we moved him to Ikoyi and rallied round to get the N1.5m deposit. But what they asked us to pay was N2.5m. After we moved him to Ikoyi that evening, they said only two people, the wife and one other person, could stay. So, I said to the wife, I will join you guys tomorrow. Early in the morning of Saturday I called the wife to enquire about his health last night, she said that the doctor asked her to go home. They ran some scans on him, and I told her I was coming soon, that I needed to freshen up and join them shortly. When I got there on that Saturday he was alive, although he was on life support, but he could still recognize and talk to me.
What did he say to you?
He said yo! Gave me knuckles and also to Righteousman. He said that he’s very happy we guys are here with him for a final goodbye. I said to him shut your mouth, you talk too carelessly, how can you be saying things like that. So, I held hands with Righteousman and said let us pray for this man. He prayed and prayed and prayed and he was also responding with amen. So, I asked what is this machine doing all over your body and how did you get here? We were like yabbing him, that so he can talk now. But that yesterday you didn’t know where you were. He said nooooooo! That the way it is now, if he doesn’t make it out of this place, that we should take care of his family. So, I asked him why are you always talking negatively. Later, he started asking about everybody’s whereabout.
What was the last thing he said to you?
The last thing he said to me was that we should be happy that nobody should cry. I was confronting one of the doctors that I’m not impressed. Not with the amount we paid, because I expected things to be okay. We stayed with him all through Saturday hoping that by Sunday things will okay. Around 7am in the morning I called the wife to confirm about his health, she said to me that I should come now, now and she used a funny tone. I quickly took my shirt and my wife also took her wig and we left for the hospital. His wife said to me come and see your brother. As I entered the room, I saw him. So, I thought he was sleeping; though he was sleeping peacefully. When people die, you look at the face to know those who died through stress, or pain. But his face was calm and peaceful. From that point, I dropped and wept bitterly. I was on the floor o…Even at the car park, I actually didn’t know what I was doing. I don’t want anybody to touch me, I said, but the doctor came and took me up from the floor and asked me to sit. Until the time we carried him to the morgue… When we got to the morgue, that was when reality dawned on me.
What will you miss most about him?
Listen, it’s like a half of me is gone. We are to each other like energy. I draw energy from him and he also draws energy from me. If I have issues, I call him first for encouragement. There’s hardly any six hours that we don’t talk on phone. Then, we yab him that he has ten phones and nobody can reach you. And I say to him that it’s because you have useless phones and palasa phones. The best way to put it is that a half of me is gone. We talk always, we are always on road, anytime and anywhere. We fly together, any hotel we are lodging, we lodge at same hotel and gist till 3am before going to our rooms to sleep. I have not come to terms with it. The only thing that gives me joy is that I know he’s in a good place with Jah’s love, right place.
Are there plans for his burial yet?
Yes mon! Kimono was like water. I don’t know of anybody that can say he had issues with him. We had our differences when we were young, but I have never heard anybody say he or she had issues with Kimono. Kimono is water. The convoy that took him to the morgue was massive. Even the presidential convoy is not as massive as his. Everybody was there, from Ali Baba, Edi Lawani and others. It was a very long convoy. I looked at the front and back, and I asked myself what is going on, where are we going? So, no date yet for the burial? Soon, because he’s everybody man. Kim is not somebody we can bury like a chicken. We owe him that honour, since he has said that everyone should be happy. So, we can’t bury him anyhow. He is going to be buried like a king. That’s the much we owe him now because I know that every evening, we are here and that’s how I know he’s still around. Because this is the kind of environment he likes and the kind of things he likes. Because you will see him dancing in one corner.
How soon is the burial?
His family will decide, but he had always said a lot of things about his death.
In the course of your discussion with him, was there anytime he mentioned that to you? As in where he wants to be buried?
He joked about it so much with us. First of all, there’s a guy in Ghana, we call him Black Rasta. Seven months ago, we were going on a very long tour, myself and him. And when I came in that morning, he was sitting down, I said how are you and he said cool. He said one of us will go. That he dreamt that one of us left.
Okay, three of you were friends?
Yes! So, he was telling Kim to tell me that we should be very strong in prayer and be very careful that one of us left. So, we just took it like a light dream and we prayed before we set out for the journey on that day. Until yesterday when it now dawned on me. So, he has always said that he’s like a millipede, that anywhere he dies, that they should bury him there. And that there are two ways that he wants to die, either in a plane crash where nobody will find any piece of his body, or let him just sleep peacefully, because that is the way he talks. Those are the two ways that he wants to go. That he doesn’t want to die in a car crash or be seen limping with one leg or one hand.
What would you describe as the nicest thing about Kimono?
I just told you that Kimono has no enemy. If you make a mistake, Kimono will say it to you face, that you are wrong. Whether you like it or not, it’s your headache, no diplomacy. He’s such a person you hardly find fault with him; if he tells you he’s dying with you, he will die with you. He’s always going to be the last man to support you.
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