Vanessa Obioha pays tribute to the late musician Sound Sultan whose imprints in the music industry, she writes, will remain indelible

We met almost three years ago at FESTAC Town in Lagos, a few days after he celebrated his 18th anniversary with a musical ‘Jungle Story’. Before we began the interview, a fan walked up to us and asked for a selfie. Without airs, he indulged the fan, allowing him to have a memento of him to cherish always. Unlike that fan, I never bothered to take a selfie with him, maybe because of my belief that stars live forever in our hearts.

Yet, when the news broke that Olarenwaju Fasasi, popularly known as Sound Sultan passed on Sunday morning, a part of me shattered and I kept replaying my last interview with him. It was the first time I had a close encounter with him, seeing through the artiste whose songs were part of my adolescent memories.

Back then in school, my classmates and I would sing ‘Mathematics’ during breaks, admiring the creative way he applied the popular Mathematics acronym ‘BODMAS’ in his lyrics. It was those early days of Plantashun Bois and Remedies, but Sultan, encouraged by his brother Baba Dee, came into the spotlight with that song. The import of that song on the Nigerian economy was vague to my classmates and me at the time but over the years, I would come to appreciate Sultan as an unconventional storyteller. From ‘Motherland’, ‘Hello Baale’ to ‘Ole (Bushmeat)’, Sultan told stories of patriotism, love and hope. His musical ‘Jungle Story’ captured the political, social and economic happenings in the country.

Since his passing, ‘unassuming’, ‘humble’ are the words that many have described him with. Words poured out from the old and young, including Richard Mofe-Damijo, who featured in ‘Jungle Story’.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in a statement described him as a bundle of talents who used “his God-given gift to advance the course of mankind.”

The All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) in a statement described him as “a prime example of a shining star and a powerful voice of African music. His dedication to the craft was impossible to miss.”

THISDAY Group Politics Editor, Nseobong Okon-Ekong who had many encounters with him during his time as an entertainment and lifestyle journalist regarded him as “calm, friendly and unassuming. He had no airs of a celebrity about him. He had a certain warmth and charm which came directly from his heart. His talent cuts across many entertainment genres. That is why he was very well respected by those who were ahead of him in the industry and equally admired by the younger generation of entertainers.”