Meet Simiji the wounded lion. He is an African living his dream in Jamaica. He has the desire and intention to be a force in the world of music, and he knows that it demands application and determination, but Alie Simiji Marrah (AKA Simiji the wounded Lion) is a young Rastafarian musician with an amazing story of determination.
Simiji’s story started in Sierra Leone, Western Africa where he was born. When civil war broke out in Sierra Leone in 1991, Simiji’s life as he knew it changed forever. His parents’ house was destroyed, several relatives perished and he became a refugee fleeing death and danger. His family was splintered as people fled to different places. Rebels killed two of his uncles and one of his younger siblings died from malnutrition. His beloved grandmother who raised him was burned to death in her own house – in front of his eyes. And he became the ‘running African’ journeying hundreds of miles seeking refuge.
Against his wishes, and under threat of death or amputation, he spent several months at the frontline of the civil war as a child soldier before being rescued by the west Africa peace keeping force EWCOMOG led by Nigerian troops. He fled to Liberia, Guinea, Mali and then to Senegal. He eventually left Africa as a stowaway on an Italian vessel that was heading to the Americas.
After nearly a month at sea he ended up in Trinidad. After sleeping on the streets of Port of Spain for some months, he was arrested for being a Prohibited Immigrant. He spent close to 2 years in prison and was severely beaten several times. He made three attempts at suicide and fortunately, he failed each time.
He was finally released from Prison into the care of United Nations High Commission for Refugees in September 7, 2001.
Simiji immediately returned to the pursuit of his musical dreams upon his release from prison. He started recording and performing in calypso tents and entering competitions in Trinidad. He met Jamaican comedian Blakka Ellis at the ‘World Laugh Festival’ where they were both performing. Blakka invited him to Jamaica, offered him accommodations and assisted him in getting registered at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. A new chapter has now begun for the young musician. His story is an inspiration and his songs speak volumes.
According to Simiji, “on Sundays when I listen to IRIE FM and I hear the name of the program called ‘Running African’ I always feel like it is referring to me. Ever since the civil war started in my country, I have been a Running African. Yeah, but Jah has continued to help me run in the right direction’.