Sound Sultan… Elegy to Naija hero resting far away
For many Nigerians, last Sunday began with tears when news broke on the painful exit of popular Nigerian artistes Olanrenwaju Fasasi, known as Sound Sultan, at age 44. Before the day ended, the pain stretched deeper when his fans across the country had to virtually witness the legendary Naija Ninja being laid to his final rest outside the shores of his beloved Motherland.
As his remains were buried in New Jersey, USA, where he had struggled with a rare form of cancer– in accordance with Islamic rites – the hearts of many Nigerians were torn, as they had to say their final goodbyes to the talented artiste from thousands of miles away. Regrettably, though one of the most consistent compatriots that Nigeria ever had, the great homeboy now rests without his tombstone back at home.
“No matter where you go make you no forget area o! Motherland o, na your area.”
Most Nigerians would never forget Sound Sultan’s 2016 mega-hit, Motherland, which embodied his revolutionary life as an entertainer. Up until his latest studio album dubbed 8th Wondah, Sultan was a master satirist, who painted didactic and socio-conscious narratives with his infectious melodies.
When Nigerians thought conscious-but-groovy music had died with Fela Kuti, Sultan came into the scene at the start of the millennia with charged narratives that helped to promote progressive mindsets among Nigerians.
When the migration syndrome was on the rise, he dropped Motherland to remind Nigerians that running away from the country would never help fix it.
“I had a friend who grew up in the area where I grew up. He lived a good life and later travelled out. Later, he got deported and when he came back, he hung himself. That taught me to never look down on yourself, because after all area na area. I put my pen to paper, because of that my friend who hung himself on Easter Sunday,” he once shared, in a 2018 interview with NdaniTV.
Similarly, when corruption was on the rise, in 2011, he released Ole (One day the bush meat go catch the hunter), which must certainly have upset the people in high places at that time. Songs like the 2000 banger, Mathematics are perfect examples of his undying patriotism to Nigeria, where he taught Nigerians the only BODMAS that they needed to know: Brotherhood, Objectivity, Democracy, Modification, Accountability, and Solidarity.
Sultan’s discography effortlessly became a compendium of real life experiences crafted to stir and steer consciences back to their default moralities. All his songs preached the value and importance of unity. The Naija Ninja also became a Universal Peace Federation ambassador and an advocate for a united Nigeria, inspiring many young people to not give up on the Nigerian dream.
In a 2014 interview with Bella Naija, he acknowledged, “If we talk about the situation of the country without the people wanting to be part of the rehabilitation, we won’t succeed nor progress.”
His story is similar to the late veteran reggae music star, Majek Fashek. The Rainmaker, as he’s fondly called, died of cancer and was buried in New York, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions preventing a return of his body.
Indeed, Sultan deserves even more encomiums than he currently has. Sadly, he now rests peacefully far away from home. Nonetheless, Nigerians can continue to draw consolation from the lifestyle that he embodied. The award-winning singer lived out his days as a billboard for humility, kindness and love.
From his Instagram Page @soundsultan, you would be able to tell that he was a man who loved and supported his colleagues, friends and family. His very last post was actually a shout-out to Afro-reggae singer, Patoranking, who just released a song dubbed, World Best, which ironically asks people to celebrate their loved ones while they are still alive.
Sultan’s legacy is confirmed by those who were encountered him.
“For over 20 years, not once did I see you lose your cool. A wise man; a humble and kindhearted man. I will miss those very early hours of the day that I will call you and share my very crazy ideas with you while taking notes as you throw in your genius touch. You were selfless, disciplined, and one of the most creative humans I have ever met, with so much love to give,” his friend and collaborator, Basketmouth said.
Other stars and dignitaries, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Orji Kalu, Patoranking, Iyabo Ojo, among others, also penned tributes to the late star.
On his consistent humility, the late musician, in an interview with Cable expressed that he loved to help people, because it attracted positivity to him.
“So many artistes who are big now, when they were budding artistes, I inspired and motivated them. From P-Square to Wizkid, Dbanj, Timaya, Asa… all the other guys, I encouraged them. That I want to mentor young and emerging artistes doesn’t stop my own movement; it is more like a positive energy. It is not something that you need to take a break from,” he said.
And truly, he never took a break from it, until his untimely exit.
While his fans can still hold onto him through his vast discography, there is still hope to hear new music from Sound Sultan again, as before his death, he was working on a new Extended Playlist dubbed, Reality Check, with his friend and long-time producer, ID Cabasa. With reality setting in that he has left this world for a better beyond, the posthumous project would be his final gift to the world.
“Lanre, what precisely do you want me to type? The dream was 2021. We were meant to do Reality Check. At the height of it, you were so hopeful and optimistic,” ID Cabasa painfully lamented in a tribute he posted on Instagram.
It would also be interesting for record labels to release any unreleased songs from musicians when they are gone, because at that point that’s the only link their fans have left to them. Besides, of what use would the music be, forever locked in a hard drive?
So, we can only hope to still hear more of the remaining new sounds Sound Sultan has ever made.
Gone from sight, but never from our hearts. The great Naija Ninja continues to breathe through his uplifting playlist, as one of the best sons that the Motherland has ever had. And that legacy remains his unending tribute as he takes final rest in foreign land.
And while we cannot all adorn flowers on his grave, Nigerians can still eulogise the legend by living that same Motherland dream he built with many sleepless nights.
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