JaJah plays his last tune

Master drummer and instrument maker JaJah Onilu has passed away. Jah Jah, together with the Mau Mau drummers, came to prominence in the wake of the 1970 Black Power upheaval in Trinidad.

Master percussionist JaJah Oga Onilu died Friday at age 57. His family wishes to keep the cause of his death private. Onilu died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, at 8.15 pm. In an interview yesterday, his youngest son Modupe, 25, said although his father’s health was “not 100 per cent,” his passing came as a shock. Onilu leaves to mourn his three children—Baba, Modupe and Oshun—as well as his wife and his 87-year-old mother, who lives abroad.

JaJah is featured in the following youtube video of a Jewels of Nature performance.

Modupe said: “His death came as a shock because we spent Old Year’s night into New Year’s Day, laughing and talking about plans for the new year.” He said his father’s last major performance was in Tobago last year where he played with Ella Andal at the Baba Maal concert. Onilu formed the band Jewels of Nature and was known for his organic music and musical instruments. Funeral arrangements have not been finalised. Modupe said there would be a commemoration of Onilu’s life at the Little Carib Theatre on a date to be announced.

For original post: JaJah plays his last tune | The Trinidad Guardian.

Author: Ken Archer

I am an ethnomusicologist, who obtained my doctoral degree at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. My areas of interests include the musical, ritual, and celebratory traditions of the circum-Caribbean and the African Diaspora. I worked as a lecturer at the Columbus and Marion Campuses of the Ohio State University, where I taught classes in World Music, Rock and Roll/American Popular Music, Western Art Music, and directed the OSU Steel Pan ensemble.