Sunday, 21 April 2013

Fela Taught Me Never to Forget Marijuana - Fela's Ex-Messenger, Rasta Tee




At a glance, Bob Benson Etuk Ibom a. k. a Rasta Tee strikes the image of a queer guitarist cum artiste locked in an eternal conflict with the shackles of poverty. Interestingly, like his number one role model, there are two vital things he would not be caught dead without; his musical instrument and his wraps of marijuana.
While his mentor always had his saxophone and marijuana within stretching distance, in similar fashion, he also carries his guitar and marijuana wherever he goes. The only glaring difference is that while his mentor, Fela Anikulapo Kuti passed on many years ago, he is very much alive and continues to propagate his Rastafarian gospel; constantly struggling to break the chains of penury that stagnates his musical progress and consequent prosperity.

Speaking with Simply SAMAD, Rasta Tee, a popular guitarist within the Iju-Ishaga axis of Lagos State revealed how he was musically groomed by late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Gripped by an apparent fever of nostalgia, Man Tee averred that he would never forget his life changing encounter with the late Afro-Beat king.

A few minutes before this interview, the Rastafarian was visibly in his elements while performing at a recent wedding ceremony in Lagos. Thrilling guests at the event with his energetic display, he easily attracted the attention of curious passers by who gradually formed into a crowd at the venue of the wedding.
However, following his powerful performance, he delved into his unforgettable encounter with Fela and the many lessons he learnt while working for him at the shrine.

 
According to Rasta Tee, one of the greatest lessons Fela ever taught him was how not to forget the inspiration that comes from smoking marijuana.

“I met Fela in 1984. He was very nice to me and even after his death, I have always referred to him as my father.”

Rasta Tee also disclosed that his relationship with Fela helped him realize that in every aspect of human endeavour, there is always an enemy around then corner.

Still on the inspiration he gets from smoking marijuana, Rasta Tee added that the late Fela also taught him that the true inspiration of marijuana can only be achieved when the smoker does not allow the marijuana take total control. “Oh! Fela wanted to kill me with marijuana,” said Rasta Tee bursting into a fit of prolonged laughter and continued, “After our encounter in 1984, I still come back to him, one year after; precisely in 1985. This time around, I came to serve as a messenger in his shrine and I left the shrine after his death. I remember that when he died, I was the one taking people who came to pay condolence visits to his main house because the condolence register was kept at the shrine. Some people who came straight to the shrine did not know his main house,” he said.

Just as one begins to wonder how the Akwa-Ibom born Rastafarian got into reggae music, he tells the story of his family. “My parents were lovers of music. They all sang and danced during their youthful age. That perhaps explains why I started playing the guitar right when he was in secondary school. “When I was in secondary school, I was a guitar boy. I must tell you the truth, I went into music a long time ago; at least my PMAN membership card can testify for that.”

Rasta Tee as he is popularly known was bold enough to admit that poverty had caused him a good number of set-backs as regards his musical progress. “Poverty has been one of my major set backs to my love for music.”

Speaking on his dreads hairstyle, Rasta Tee lamented the alleged atrocities some of his counterparts commit under the guise of being Rastafarians. “My dread is natural but you see, many of those you see today with dread are not Rasta men but they parade themselves as such and use that to commit crime. They are nothing but criminals who use their dread to commit many atrocities in our country. Some of them are even drug dealers. Just look around and you will see what I am talking about,” he said.

However, despite his wife’s disaffection for marijuana and her constant complaints, the father of three still affirmed his love for her. “

I am thanking God everyday of my life for making this lovely woman who fights me everyday my wife. The only reason why she fights me is because she does not like the marijuana I smoke but she understands my lifestyle. She fights me all the time because she wants me to stop smoking marijuana and to remove my dread hair. One day, she just got tired of the whole thing. I thank God she has been able to cope with my lifestyle all these days unlike before but I have told her several times that my inability to stop smoking marijuana was as result of my encounter with Fela.”



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