The sudden and unexpected death in Haiti of Michael Benjamin, also known as Mikaben by his family, has shocked his loved ones.
Benjamin died Oct. 18 after collapsing on stage immediately following his set at Carimi’s 20th anniversary reunion concert in Paris, France. Benjamin, 41 years old, was reportedly taken to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest.
“Mika crushed it. Definitely the energy was just surreal, in a sense. And then, as he finished his set, he’s walked off, he’s walking off with a smile. And I’m right there, literally a couple feet away from him, and he just dropped, hit the floor, and then, that was it,”Inside Edition Digital also heard DJ Stakz perform that night.
Benjamin was surrounded by many people who ran to his side. “The medical team actually, they were pretty quick, and then they were on it. They were on it immediately, and they started CPR. They realized he had no heart beat, no pulse. They started CPR and then just went from there,”He said.
Michael Brun, artist, producer, and DJ, worked closely with Benjamin. He said that he had never seen anything like it happen. He was there to see Benjamin’s collapse via the livestream. “Every time we performed, he was in great health. He exercised, he ate well,”He said.
Benjamin seemed happy while he performed, and people who saw him before he collapsed didn’t notice any signs of an issue.
“I know that in the toughest moment where the slot is so heavy that his experience, he enjoyed it. And you, there’s even a few pictures right before this happened where he’s smiling. You can see that he was still, he was enjoying it up until the very last moment,” Brun said. “So if there’s ever a silver lining, that’s it for me.”
Stakz claimed that he began to pray as attempts were made to revive Benjamin. However, he was not saved.
“It was just a lot of, ‘Nah, this can’t be happening right now.’ …It was just a lot. It was a lot going on in my mind,” Stakz said. “Knowing that, we were just speaking about his family, his wife being pregnant.”
Benjamin’s wife, Vanessa Fanfan, who is pregnant with their third child, wrote on Instagram that she had “lost her other half.”
“Oh mon Dieu, Heavenly Father, I know you don’t make mistakes and you won’t give us what we can’t bare but…this pain is very heavy. Please help me, merciful Lord.” she wrote. “Many thanks to you all for your prayers and support. One day I will tell my kids how their father’s legacy, moved a whole community. I am humbled.”
Marie Driven, co-founder of PR firm Playbook MG, signed Benjamin as her client this year. She called him a multilingual talent, noting he spoke English, French, Haitian Creole and Spanish.
“Mikaben, while a powerful tool, isn’t even that. He was more than an artist; he was also a leader. I don’t know why he didn’t run, but that’s another story.” she said. “He is one of those guys who wants to leave a lasting legacy wherever he goes. He left a legacy, and I believe we should continue that legacy.”
Part of that legacy included his charity, Ti Souf, which is Haitian Creole for “breath.” The charity works to raise money for Haitian teachers.
A GoFundMe campaign has been created to help cover expenses that Mika’s three children will incur throughout their lives, “which will include primary education, college education, medical expenses and savings,” the page read.
“Ti Souf…will also get a portion,” the campaign continued.
As of Wednesday, almost $180,000 had already been raised.
Benjamin’s funeral will be held Miami, Florida, on Nov. 6, with a mass in Haiti to follow at a later date.