Nigeria Reggae star, Ben Osa Bush aka Ben Priest, is popularly known for his hit songs “Mr Freeman”, “Strangers”, “Oh Mama” and “Tribute to Lucky Dube” and an Honouree of the Obaland Royal Awards 2018 for Nigeria Best Reggae Songwriter.
He is also a noted bandmate to leading late iconic reggae legend, Lucky Dube’s official band in South Africa. He detailed the dreadful national trending news, previously published by one of the Nigerian print newspapers on the 25/05/2018 to Standard Gazette reporter, an incident that occurred between Ben Priest and the blessed memory of iconic reggae singer Lucky Dube’s official Band.
By Ehi Ekhator
As seen in one of Nigeria’s national newspapers, tell us in details what really transpired between you and the Lucky Dube Band.
Well, it’s a long story about a horrible near-death experience I had. I was contacted to join the Lucky Dube Band by the band manager, Lenah Mochoele.
In fact, this whole saga was chiefly perpetrated by her. She got me into the band to sign an album contract as the lead singer. I thought I had met a family away from home, where I was supposed to feel welcomed and protected. But the reverse was the case, as I experienced the worst type of hostility ever from them.
Firstly, I was never given any kind of allowances to sustain and I wasn’t allowed to do any gigs elsewhere. But I saw that the rest of the band members were always allowed to do extra shows to sustain themselves. It got to a point where my landlord threw me out of his house for unpaid rent. Most of my personal belongings were ceased as a result till now.
I talked to Lenah about my welfare issue but instead, she gave the entire band members the wrong impression that I was rather complaining too much when I knew everyone had their own problems. I noticed that their attitude towards me began to change.
They became more unfriendly by the fake smiles on their faces. It got to a point when we had to do a video shoot after having done with audio recording, that I had nowhere to sleep.
A Nigerian friend had to have me sleep at his wood factory where I had rats rolling on my body at night. I couldn’t sleep, while everyone else was in the comfort of their homes. To them, I seemed desperate to be famous and they were rather trying to help me out. It was horrible. Half the story is not told, but I’m trying.
With all that I sacrificed for them writing and singing most of the songs, they release the video but edited out my image from it and had Tk Dube perform on my image to make the world believe that he was the singer. This was the height of wickedness and none of them could wake up to say hey this was wrong and unfair.
It was a collective plan to get rid of me after the whole project. At a point, I sensed that they are capable of assassinating me and move on. But Jah plucked my feet out of their net. This propelled me to begin my solo career and I’m making progress slowly but surely.
As one of the most reputable Reggae music legends with various hit songs to your name, what do you think of Nigerians reacting to all that happened to you in South Africa?
Before leaving for the South, I already had fans back in Nigeria as I was doing well then. But my passion for Lucky Dube’s music drove me more to be in the South hoping to experience better interaction with his band after he passed on.
In Nigeria right now, a lot of people are feeling so disappointed and sad to know what had happened, considering my unwavering passion for Lucky Dube. Some of them are actually saying I shouldn’t have gone to South Africa in the first, knowing that I was not doing badly back home. But Jah knows.
What exactly do you expect from Lucky Dube Band to resolve this international chaos?
Clearly, I want justice my way. I didn’t intend to do this at this moment. But I keep getting messages from people saying Lenah messages them privately saying the reason why I’m no more with the band is that I was banned from entering South Africa and that I had visa issues. She even lied that I was into drugs.
This is totally false and ridiculous. She uses these ways to get out of situations. And that’s why I’m trying to clarify most people who believe her lies about me. I also need to be paid for my services rendered to the band. I’m talking about the album recording I did for them however they need to do it.
I also want the falsified video they released on YouTube to be taken down and have me compensated for using my voice to exploit me without my consent. Most of all, I am more than ever, driven by the recent dream I had about Lucky Dube tell me to “ask for my right” I’m not interested in coming back to the band cos they never wanted the spotlight on me anyway. I’m happier on my own.
We also learnt you’re have written a movie script in collaboration with some famous Nollywood actors. Can you tell the audience more about this and why?
Hahaha, I didn’t even know this information had gone out already. Well, I wanted it to come out as a surprise but yea, the script is written already and a very interesting one at that. Like I always say, my inspiration to create songs comes from bad situations in our everyday life as humankind. And the notable actors involved see potentials and possible lessons to be learned from all of it. This movie reflects on my story as well. Let’s leave it at that for now. Watch out soon come.
We quite agree that it could be boring, after all, efforts being put in a work to end fiasco. What damage has this cost you?
Disappointing, devastating, depressing and even life-threatening, especially when done with all might and passion and to find out that all was a wasted effort. All of these I felt more initially. But looking deeper, I see that there is a bigger reason for every failure and a bigger opportunity for every disappointment.
The year 2018 has been amazing after you bagged the prestigious monarch award at Obaland Academy. Don’t you think as a role model that has inspired most upcoming artists in Nigeria, most of your followers will feel disappointed in collaborating with international acts, as they feel your pains nationwide?
Yea with the Obaland Award I see Jah rewarding my struggles by glorifying me in time. Naturally, my followers would feel kinda disappointed. But I wanna say that not everyone out there is bad. You can’t generalize based on a certain bad incident.
Even in South Africa, there are still nice people who don’t discriminate against anyone irrespective of their nationality or whatever.
However, in this world of troubles and trials, we must tread carefully in order to come over.
As we all know, Lucky Dube’s official Bandhan a huge songs list in their catalogue. Which song did you collaborate with the band and what role did you play on the track?
Well, I perform all Lucky’s songs and that’s what do on stage with the band. However, we recorded a tribute album for Lucky and it was released in 2014. The album is titled, “Celebrate His Life” I composed and sang all but one of the 10 songs in that album.
What advice did you get from your legal assistant, regarding Lucky Dube Band’s incorrect recording deal with you?
My lawyer says I deserve better treatment no matter what. However, let’s wait for what happens. And if Lenah fails to do the needful, that when we would know what next step to take on the matter but for now, it is right for me to clarify people who never understood the inside story.
Do you have anything more you would want the public to know?
Nothing much for now. Just to let them know that I’m still strong with more vibes coming out soon. Thanks for supporting still. Jah loves you all.
What is your advice for Nigerian entertainers towards South African entertainers?
I have lived in South Africa for several years and I can tell that most but not all of them, are unfriendly. Always be nice towards them. But caution is vital due to the vampires seen? Blessed!