If your first introduction to video games was on an Xbox or PS console, then you are probably too young to have experienced the legend of the rainmaker – Majek Fashek.
This was long before Instagram and Twitter gave us an in-road into the minds and lifestyles of celebrities.
Reggae maestro, Majek Fashek was dubbed the rainmaker not necessary because his magnetic performances drew hundreds of drooling fans to his world but because, as myths go, whenever he performed his hit song, ‘Send Down The Rain’, the heavens responded likewise and actually sent down rain.
Now before you get all riled up and start disputing the factuality of rainmakers based on current metrological standards, hear me out.
Maybe my personal experience with the rainmaker would help clear the gathering clouds in your mind.
Long before concerts were mime-fests, tobacco brands were actively involved in organizing concerts and Benson & Hedges, the leading tobacco brand, put together a concert in Lagos, headlined by the rainmaker himself, Majek Fashek.
That was before the reggae icon’s unfortunate experimental alchemy of music and narcotics.
Majek Fashek was sprightly back then, with a quirky dance that was like watching a jester on a threadmill. He was confident too, belting his music without reserve, eyes closed and clutching the microphone like an impatient lover.
Those concerts were usually free or at worse, they would request for a paltry sum of money that was not commensurate to the level of premium entertainment being served. It was obvious that the tobacco company wanted more than our money. Why else would they offer us the biggest voice in Africa, Majek Fashek, virtually free?
We were handed cigarette packs as we walked into the concert ground and we soon found a space and settled to wait.
Majek Fashek wasn’t the only artiste billed to perform, there were other low-level performances scheduled, and we soon got into the groove of the night as artiste after artiste hit the stage and made an attempt to win our loyalty.
As the night progressed, the crowd soon became restless, because it was obvious that a good percentage of the audience came to see the rainmaker.
After several false starts, (MCs back then had a way of keeping you excited while delaying the headline act) Majek Fashek was finally called up.
The crowd went into frenzy as the band played the rainmaker in. I had heard many stories about his amazing ability to provoke rain when he delivered the track, ‘send down the rain’ but soft-sell magazines back then were notorious for doctoring facts and so I wasn’t too sure.
He started the gig with a light banter with the crowd as reggae artistes are prone to do and then an introductory song (I can’t remember which one now) and we all gyrated as best as we could amidst writhing bodies and smelling armpits.
But deep within us, we knew what we wanted.
The rain song.
After only two songs, a chant rose up from the crowd.
A general consensus had been reached, we wanted the rain song.
I will never forget Majek’s strange grin, as if to say, ‘is that what you really want?’
He shrugged, signaled the band and they hit the tune.
The crowd went wild.
“The sky looks misty and cloudy…” he wailed, pivoting his dreadlocked head towards the ink black sky.
We sang along but from time to time looked up expectantly. Was the legend of the rainmaker true? Will we be drenched in this open ground concert by the magic of a song?
As Majek rambled on, distorting his lean frame in time to the tune of the music, something strange began to happen. Quiet flashes of lightning started fizzling through the darkness.
Was it really about to rain?
We roared at the first sign of a rumble of thunder and everyone went crazy. Bodies stumbled into other bodies, as we let go of our inhibitions and danced. We had become an extension of the rainmaker, a part of his mysterious ensemble.
As you might have guessed, the rains came. Not in torrents but in a light drizzle that washed over us and intensified our screams.
Majek didn’t seem as surprised as we were and never even mentioned the presence of the downpour. He just carried on with his dance and song, a musical tribute to the benevolent forces that has kept his myth alive.
Reggae icon, Majek Fashek died on the 1st of June, 2020 in New York.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here