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OPINION: Kelly: When Character Failure Precedes Disgrace


“If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self “This apt quote by Napoleon Hill undoubtedly makes meaning to many a villain a little too late in the day when wilful iniquity would have incited certain punishment.


A random social media post I recently encountered and purposely soaked- in suggests that the hospital and prison walls have heard more prayers than all the cathedrals across the world combined. It took me days to ruminate on this assertion and would later accept it as a truism.


A man realises sometimes too late how quickly little drops of addictive vice can transmute into a sprawling ocean to consume him without remedy.


Wherever R. Kelly, the king of RnB (unofficially) is this moment, it must have now dawned on him that, that which is sweet, if not consumed with moderation (in this case legitimately) can summarily destroy a man.


R. Kelly having reigned supreme on the back of his incredible talent has now gone the way of many like him-shine, excel, fail the test of attitude and end up disgraced, alone and finished!


Following a well-publicised trial that has hugged global new headlines the chickens have come home to roost.


R-Kelly faces a potential life sentence for pornography, statutory rape and other sexual offenses. A native of Chicago, he was unarguably the one of the best R&B recording artiste of all times and managed to retain industry relevance despite a slew of sexual abuse allegations against him. He combined brilliant lyrics and melodic sounds to great effect, winning him millions of fans globally.

Nearly 30 years after he was first documented to have abused a minor, the 54-year-old artist faces up to life in prison after a New York jury convicted him of running a criminal ring that trapped teenagers and women in a web of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. The three-time Grammy winner born Robert Sylvester Kelly has sold over 75 million records globally, making him one of the most commercially successful R&B musicians ever, with hits like "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Ignition [Remix]." Kelly's reign at the echelon of the music industry always included an asterisk: Rumours of criminal sexual activity lingered for decades. Indeed ,It would be recalled he had to settle some niggling sex crime allegations out of court. In delivering closing arguments after six weeks of testimony in Brooklyn federal court, assistant US attorney Elizabeth Geddes detailed a "Robert Kelly-centric universe" that saw his associates support the singer's predatory behaviour. Informing the court and of course the disgraced artiste of his fate, the jury of five women and seven men found him guilty on all charges, convicting him of using his fame to systematically recruit his victims for sex, buttressed by his entourage.

Born on January 8, 1967, in Chicago, Kelly was the third of four children raised by his mother. In his 2012 memoir, he describes sexual experiences as early as 8 years old, saying he sometimes watched older couples have sex, and was instructed to photograph them. Kelly said an older woman raped him, also when he was 8, and that an older man in the neighbourhood sexually abused him when he was a pre-teen. Kelly has long been rumoured to be illiterate, which was repeatedly raised during the Brooklyn trial, despite 14 solo albums to his name. His former attorney said Kelly writes in phonetic notes rather than standard English. Jive Records signed him in 1991, after a label executive reportedly heard him singing at a barbeque in Chicago. Kelly released his first solo album 12 Play in 1993, featuring sexed up jams such as "Bump N' Grind," a record that topped the R&B charts for nine weeks. He was notably once married to then music prodigy Aaliyah-a union that was ultimately annulled –that union and the fact that Aaliyah was a 15-year-old at the time of the union was core to the prosecution's case.

In the early 2000s, Chicago reporter Jim DeRogatis anonymously received two tapes that appeared to show Kelly having sex with young girls, the second of which led to the artiste's indictment for child pornography. In July 2017, BuzzFeed published a lengthy investigation by DeRogatis, which alleged Kelly was operating a "sex cult" and holding six women hostage between Chicago and Atlanta. At the same time, two women in Atlanta, Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, founded the "Mute R. Kelly" movement, which encouraged boycotting his music. In January 2019, a Lifetime docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly” again said the quiet part out loud, interviewing women who cast Kelly as manipulative, violent and hyper-focused on young girls, who he allegedly demanded call him "daddy." This wave of renewed scrutiny and a firm reaction by other artistes like Celine Dion and Lady Gaga-the latter who would later apologize for past collaborations with Kelly.

Shortly after Chicago prosecutors levelled 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against him, federal prosecutors in both Illinois and New York indicted Kelly in 2019. He was undoubtedly a music maestro; a virtuoso of the Mic. He bewitched his audience during live performances and had a charisma that many of his peers could only wish for.


From the lofty heights of a mega star, the three-time Grammy Award winner has now sunk far too low. He would now have to get accustomed to wearing prison overall as against the luxurious designer apparels that he had always been clad in at the height of his reign.


Though admittedly sad, Kelly perhaps thought too highly of himself, remaining boastful and without remorse amidst his numerous trials.


When R-Kelly was acquitted and his case dismissed over a decade ago for child pornography, his brother, Kerry Kelly, called him on the phone and told him: “Hey man… God has given you another chance.” The singer’s response, according to his brother, during an interview, was: “No…. God didn’t give me another chance; I gave myself another chance. My money gave me another chance.”



This apparent display of arrogance would be followed by even more acts of illicit sexual practices. His trial and acquittal previously did very little to persuade him from ebbing obstinately towards the precipice. He was too proud to reconsider his ways. As far as he was concerned, money and fame was the panacea to every challenge that would arise from his perversion.


He continued his salacious act of having carnal knowledge of under-aged girls. He failed to realise that it was only a matter of time before his actions would catch up with him big time.


Self-discipline and an ability to keep the flesh in check are a must-have if a man will survive life and exit with his dignity intact.


An excerpt of an investigative piece “the licensed Predator” recently released by Ace Journalist Manasseh Awuni Azure gives considerable insight into how a doctor’s inability to manage his fleshly desires led him to sexually violate his patients and has since landed himself in trouble.


Critias, said: “If you discipline yourself within, you will be less vulnerable to injury from outside.”


For a man to succeed at life and exit with honour he needs more than a willing spirit; a conquered flesh is not only a hallmark of great champions, it is the ultimate quality the helps fulfil and make the most of destiny.


Living a principle-centred life and disciplining one’s self to hold fast to the right when all men troop to the left must be the guiding light of a man of purpose.


There are two ways of learning in life: By ‘instruction’ or by ‘destruction.’ And for all his special gifting’s, R.Kelly has failed the test of character and is set to have a long ,dreary and regretful life ahead.


While we all have valuable lessons to draw, my best wishes are with the victims of his crimes. Prayers also go out to R.Kelly who despite his calamitous fall is a sinner like all and deserves the mercy and grace of God.



While he cools off in jail and has enough time to consider life from another perspective, Kelly could do well to take consolation from the first two stanzas of his smash hit “The Storm Is Over Now” which reads

I was in a tunnel And couldn't see the light And whenever I'd look up I couldn't see the sky Sometimes when I'm standin' It seems like I done walked for miles And my heart could be cryin' Dead in the middle of a smile

But then I climbed the hills And saw the mountains I hollered help 'cause I was lost Then I felt the strong wind Heard a small voice sayin'

The storm is over (The storm is over now) And I can see the sunshine (Somewhere beyond the clouds) I feel Heaven, yeah (Heaven is over me) Come on and set me free, whoa

Now in the midst of my battle All hope was gone Downtown in a rushed crowd And felt all alone And every now and then I felt like I would lose my mind I've been racin' for years And still no finish line, oh

But then I climbed the hills And saw the mountains (Mountains) I hollered help 'cause I was lost Then I felt the strong wind And then a small voice sayin'

The storm is over…………..”


“If life doesn’t teach you anything, let it teach you to acknowledge the grace and mercy of God. Let it teach you never to take things for granted; to learn from your mistakes when you are given a second chance. Let it teach you to introspect and observe your conscience. Above all, let it teach you to cut off the habits that have the potential to cut you down in the future. “-Gbenga Adebambo


Character failure ultimately precedes disgrace as the reign and fall of onetime mega star R. Kelly has demonstrated. May we escape the snare of searing lust. Amen!


Credit: Samuel Owusu- Aduomi

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