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Low turn out of musicians at Okosuns burial

By AHAOMA KANU

THE heavens started shedding tears before the lying in state of Evag. Francis Sonny Okosuns, (OON) who died in United States in May 25, 2008, started over the weekend at the Basket ball hall of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State. The congregation defiled the down pour and paid homage to a man that left an almost perfect mark in the sands of time as a singer, activist, freedom fighter, entertainer and evangelist. It was all tears as the remains was brought in at the National Stadium in an Ebony white Jeep with registration number Ebony 1.

This followed after more than three hours of church services held at the National Stadium, basketball hall and his House of Prayer Ministry located at Ogba in the Ikeja area of Lagos State. In his speech at the church ceremony, Anglican Bishop Isaac Okoduwa Rtd, described Okosuns as a God-fearing man who used his God given music to deliver the message of God.
He extolled him for his hard work and perseverance and urged Nigerians of all classes to remember the last days.

In her own remarks, Ms Onyeka Onwenu, a popular musician described the nonchalant attitude of the both the federal and state governments for not playing a role in Okosuns burial, as unexpected .

As a Federal recipient of the National award conferred on him, Onwenu said, the government did not value the man's contribution in music and cultural values in the country especially fighting apartheid through his music.

The PMAN President, Mr Omatshola Iseli (Tee-Mac) said that, Okosuns life on earth would be immortalised by the association.

He further said that a musical foundation would be set up in his name, so that the younger generation would emulate what Okosuns did on earth.
He described the Ozziddi King as a great man and a freedom fighter as well a good ambassador to Nigeria and the entire Africa.

In her tribute, Mrs Florence Okosuns, the widow of the late musician, said her late husband was her best friend who happens to be my husband”.

Part of her tribute read: "Two third of my life has been with you and being married to you Sonny, my Odomen, the husband of my youth has been nothing but bliss. Who would have believed that 31 seconds has rolled into 31 years with you.”

She remembered their good-old-days when they suffered and smiled, I remain grateful to God.
After the lying in state, the convoy left the premises of the National Stadium for his residence at Ogba where the final funeral rites were performed by Bishop George Amu who gave the a soul touching sermon titled, The Mysteries of Life and admonished the people to put their house in order just as the deceased did.

After singing the hymns, How Great Thou Art and Great Is Thy Faithfulness, the priest led the family to the graveside where the remains were committed to mother earth inside his studio.
For a musician who inspired a generation of artistes in the country, It was observed that there was a great absence of musicians at the burial, a development that the PMAN president blamed on its organizers.

“I would say it may be the fault of the organizing committee because the information was not passed around enough. I was just reminded by Bishop Amu that the wake keeping was yesterday and if I being the PMAN president am been told about this at that hour, imagine if the other artistes were aware,” he said.

But some of the musicians who were present condemned the absence of the artistes to pay their last respect describing it as a show of as ingratitude.

"If they were told that they would be paid to be at the burial, you would have witnessed them in their thousands. It is really unfortunate," King Wadada told National Daily.

Righteous Man said he was not impressed with the turn out of musicians at the burial as expectations were that top class artistes could be around to show their respect for an icon.
“What I saw today is not impressive because I was expecting to see people like Tuface, Eedris Abdukareem, D'Banj, P-Square and the lots to be present here to pay respect to a great musician like Sonny Okusuns because he was their mentor. If somebody like Sonny Okusuns is being celebrated this way without musicians then it is very sad,” he lamented.

For Stella Monye, it was not expected but according to her, she was not surprised as what happened was a reflection of the state of the industry.

“It is very surprising but I am not surprised; the industry needs to be put together very well. This is reflective of how the industry is right now. Imagine if an artiste like Michael Jackson dies; every American singer will be there but here we are not paying respect to our own Michael Jackson.”
She regretted that for a man that has a plaque with the names of every Nigerian musician both young and old, established and upcoming in his studio it was really an unfortunate way for the artistes to say goodbye.

Among the personalities present were Ms Onwenu, Musician, Kanyo O. Kanyo, actor, Oritis Williki, musician, Mumu Gee, Musician, Segun Arinze, Stella Monye, Righteous Man, King Wadada, Azzezat, Bolaji Rosiji among many members of his church.

Okosuns was born on January 1 1947, and died May 25, 2008, of colon cancer in Howard University Teaching Hospital in the U.S.

He had a very successful career both as a secular and gospel musicians which produced 29 albums most of which were hits.