It was last Friday night and as I picked up the phone with my caller ID flashing ‘Out of the Area’, I growled an unfriendly hello intended for telemarketers. With studied apprehension Theron Shaw relayed to me the untimely passing of Jajah Oga Onilu. He sincerely hoped and asked if I was OK. Silence. Muttering, I asked what happened and the details were hazy but that did not matter, as it hit me that my longtime band-mate, friend and teacher was gone.
Trinidad and Tobago lost one of its musical pioneers with the death of percussionist Ja Jah Oga Onilu who died suddenly at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope last Friday night. Known as a master drummer, Onilu, who was 58-years-old at his passing, was also a well known artist and maker of “organic” musical instruments. He was also one of the members of Jewels of Nature organic percussion group along with his two sons Baba Onilu and Modupe Onilu.