The call of Africa will never die for Alie Simiji Marrah also known as Simiji – The Wounded Lion.
He is a refugee from Sierra Leone who has found a new home in Trinidad and Tobago. Over 10 years ago, war, oppression and strife, forced 16-year-old Simiji to flee his homeland of Sierra Leone, Western Africa where he was born, to look for a better life elsewhere.
“It was really hard for me because during the war I was a child solider until the West African Peace Keeping Force came and save me,” Simiji said.
Stowing away on a ship that was bound for Costa Rica, Simji ended up on the shores of Trinidad and Tobago due to an unexpected turn of events. Alone and scared, Simji admits he spent part of his childhood homeless and struggling to survive on the streets of Port of Spain. Despite being in a new country and away from the hazards of war, Simiji grappled with the deaths of his grandmother, mother and father back home.
The one thing in Simiji’s life that was always constant was music. Persevering against frightening odds he never lost his zeal for music.
He said, “Ever since I was a little youth I was always into music. My mother was only 15 years old when she had me and she could not really take care of me so it was my grandmother that really raised me. Growing up I was very small and weak and could hardly walk. As a child I would stay in one place whole day. One day my grandmother told me she began singing and then I would listen to the beat and start to dance.”
Simji has opened a new chapter in his life and is living his dream in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Using music as a way to express himself and showcase his talent, Simiji says he is proud of his African heritage and would like to make a name for himself within the music industry.
He is a full time musician and admits getting to this point in his life has not been easy but says he is determined to succeed. His first album Sound of the Wounded Lion is schedule to be released in Jamaica with a subsequent release in Trinidad later this year. The album consists of 12 songs and is a mix of reggae, soca and calypso with an Afro-beat.
He said, “This album is a reflection of all that I have went through in life. What Jah allowed me to grow through has made get healing and has made me stronger. This album is meant to touch people that have gone through pain and struggle not just in Africa but all over the world.”
Apart from the new album, Simiji also plans to launch his new band called, The Wounded Lion band. Some of the members in the band include: Keith Cunningham, Shane Herring, Kamardo Blake and two background vocalists.
He said, “I don’t really limit myself when it comes to music. Some of the selections on the album include: ‘Mamma Dingoley’, ‘Talibre’ and ‘Jam Africa’ to name a few.”
This is Simiji’s first album and he plans to push his career even further. He recently completed an associate degree in music performance from Edna Manley College’s School of Music in Jamaica and is also working on getting his Bachelor’s degree in music. He says music has afforded him the opportunity to create a better life for himself.
“My name means wounded and I will always be a wounded lion. My biggest hope was to go back to Africa and reunite with my mother and say to her, mama I never grew up with you but I have met a lot of people that showed me love and now I have come back to give it back to you. But I can’t do that because she is gone; all I can do is go back to Africa and look for her grave and do a traditional burial ceremony,” Simiji said.
“I am not going to pick up a gun and shoot the people that killed my mother but I hope through my music they can feel the love I have for her,” he said.
“For those people who tell themselves they can’t make it, I hope they can read my story and don’t give up and try to reach to a next level. I hope it will serve as an inspiration for others,” he said.
Life has dealt him several cruel blows to make him fall but Simiji says it is his time to rise again.