Sad tales of entertainers, Nollywood stars who died in 2023

…Stars should create time for recreation, seek God’s face –Amusan, Rollas

As 2023 comes to an end, the entertainment industry has indeed suffered heavy blows, as quite a number of Nollywood actors and actresses have been lost to the cold hands of death; BENJAMIN SAMSON writes.

The Nollywood industry has been devastated following the death of some actors and actresses. In the last twelve months, many prominent Nollywood stars have ‘kicked the bucket.’ They took their bundles of talents into the grave and will never be seen again. The mourning has been unabated in the industry as popular faces are being snatched away by the chilling hands of death.

Peace Anyiam-Osigwe

Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, a native of Imo state, was a filmmaker and entertainment executive. He was also known by her moniker “queen of Nollywood films” and was the founder of the globally acclaimed film ceremony, African Movie Academy Awards, which she started in Yenagoa, the Bayela state capital, on May 30, 2005.

She was also notable for the screening of Nollywood films at International Film Festivals and was bestowed by the Nigerian government a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic for her contributions to the entertainment industry. She died at the St. Nicholas Hospital in Lagos on January 9, 2023, at the age of 53 after suffering a heart attack which led her into a two-day coma.

Chief Sunday Akanbi Akinola (Feyikogbon)

Ace veteran actor, Chief Sunday Akanbi Akinola, who became popular for his role as mogaji in the series Feyikogbon which aired on NTA Channel 7 in the South-west in the 1980s, died on January 9, 2023, of Kidney failure at the age of 80.

Prior to his death, the actor had solicited help from the public in 2019, for financial assistance to treat the illness, saying that his role in the series had only given him fame without finance.

 Femi Ogunrombi (Papa Ajasco)

Femi Ogunrombi who played the role of Papa Ajasco, a character known for his portly belly and hitting his head while saying “Ojigbigbigbi” in the TV comedy series Papa Ajasco and company by Wale Adenuga Productions died on January 14, 2023.

Femi Ogunrombi was a native of Abeokuta in Ogun state. He rose to fame after taking over the character of Papa Ajasco in 2005, when Mr. Abiodun Ayoyinka pulled out of the Show. He was a member of the National Troupe of Nigeria in 1994 and worked as the director of Nigerian National Music and conducted the National Choir in 1998. He was also the director of studies at the Pencil Film and Television Centre in Lagos.

 Favour Agiounim Daniels

The young comedienne and actress popularly known as Omoge, Oma and Amama who had gained popularity through her skits on social media passed away after a boating accident on February 5, 2023, at the age of 26. It was indeed a sad day for the industry as many experienced disbelief and shock at the news.

 Chief Ojo Arowosafe (Fadeyi Oloro)

The actor, whose death was announced by his daughter, Fasunwon Oluwafunke, passed on Tuesday, the 7th of March 2023, at the age of 66, after battling with a terminal disease for many years. He was a native of Igbara Odo in Ekiti state.

Popularly known for his oratory skills in reciting Yoruba incantations, he rose to fame after acting in the movie Arelu in the late 80s.

He also acted in movies like Inubibi, Anike Olufa and Akoni mefa among others.

Obinna Nwafor (Saint Obi)

Veteran actor and movie producer Obinna Nwafor also known as Saint Obi passed on at the age of 57 after a protracted illness. He died in May 2023.

 It was disclosed that the actor had died early in the week after battling with an undisclosed illness for several months with no successful treatment, although the family chose not to announce his death for reasons not yet ascertained.

 The actor was reported to have relocated to Jos, the Plateau state capital, for further treatment of the ailment that had kept him in and out of the hospital for over two years.

He acted in movies like Heartless, Take me to Mama, Festival of fire, among others.

Murphy Afolabi

 Popular Yoruba Yoruba, Murphy Afolabi, died on May 14, 2023, after a tragic fall in his bathroom iin Ikorodu area of Lagos. The actor had just celebrated his 49th birthday before his tragic death.

 Afolabi got into the movie industry in 2001. Prior to that, he had studied Theatre Arts and Film Production at the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree. He appeared in over 60 movies before his death, including Ifa Olokun; Omowunmi; Jimi Bendel; Wasila Coded; Olokiki Oru, and Idera.

 Adedigba Mukaila

Among the notable personalities who died this year is veteran actor Adedigba Mukaila, known by his stage name Alafin Oro. He died on May13, 2023. His death was announced by fellow actor Kunle Afod on his social media page.

He wrote; “Another library is burnt down today; a great philosopher, an icon with so much Yoruba knowledge, a lover of God @alafinoro1. You departed this sinful world in the early hour of today, May your gentle soul rest in peace.”

 Chikezie Uwazie

The death of Nollywood actor Chikezie Uwazie was announced on May 15, 2015. He died in the United States after undergoing brain surgery. His death was announced by a colleague, Obey Etok, via her Instagram page.

 She wrote, “I can’t imagine I’m posting this. Chikezie Uwazie has gone after a second brain surgery. Gini na emezi. I’m so shocked to get this news this evening; I just got this from our IMSU alumni platform.

“I thought you told me you were going to the States for greener pastures. You promised to come back some years back but I didn’t see you. I can’t believe you are gone but God knows best. Rest on Chyko.”

TAMPAN mourns

Meanwhile, the national president of Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Bolaji Amusan, said the high numbers of deaths in the entertainment industry in 2023 was devastating to the association.

He condoled with the families of his departed colleagues and prayed to God to grant them all the fortitude to bear the losses.

 He said: “TAMPAN received with shock and great disbelief the sad news of the untimely departure of popular Nollywood stars like Murphy Afolabi, Mukaila Adedigba, Wasiu Adegbenro, the English actor, Saint Obi, and so many others who passed away in 2023.

 “The news of the demise of each and every one of them came to us as a rude shock at this time when TAMPAN is intensifying efforts toward improving on the welfare of members and the quality of life of the Nigerian artistes.

 “We pray that God grants them all eternal rest. We will surely miss them.”

Amusan said the increasing rate of untimely death among its members and others within the creative industry had become worrisome.

He called on TAMPAN members and Nigerian artistes generally to pay proper attention to their health.

“These sad incidents necessitate another clarion call to all members of our association and Nigerian artistes in general to pay close attention to their health.

 “It is also very important at this time to admonish all individuals within the creative sector in Nigeria to create time for recreation and take time off once in a while from work,” he said.

Divine intervention

Likewise, the national president of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Emeka Rollas, is saddened by the deaths of veterans and budding Nollywood stars in 2023. He urged the whole body of actors in Nigeria to take heart, and have faith in God “at these trying times.”

 Rollas in a post shared on his Instagram page lamented the sudden demise of entertainers and called on Nollywood stars to take a special day to call on God in prayers.

Rollas, therefore, set up a three-man Committee to design a link that members of the Guild would join from all states.

He added that the Committee would be headed by Apostle Eucharia Anunobi.

 Precautions

To prevent sudden slumping and dying, a consultant cardiologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, Dr. Austin Maiyaki, in a chat with this reporter, urged Nollywood actors and Nigerians to embrace proper treatment of underlying health conditions.

 He warned that having undiagnosed or poorly managed high blood pressure and untreated high cholesterol could make a person suddenly slump and die.

According to him, a person cannot just suddenly slump and suffer cardiac death because sudden cardiac death is preceded by other underlying diseases that the carrier might not be aware of.

 “Most of these diseases,” he noted, “are mostly cardiovascular-related and could include conditions such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke.”

He said, “To prevent a person from suffering sudden cardiac death, constant checking of blood pressure and cholesterol level is important. There is often no first aid that can be offered at the point of slumping to prevent death from cardiovascular conditions.

 “Sudden cardiac death is an unexpected fatality due to cardiac causes that occur in a short period (generally within 1 hour of symptom onset) in a person with known or unknown cardiac disease.

 “While there are no data on the prevalence of sudden cardiac deaths in Nigeria, a 2019 research done in Dakar, Senegal, found that during the seven years of study, 235 cases of sudden cardiovascular deaths out of a total of 3,717 forensic autopsies were collected which they said indicated that sudden cardiovascular deaths represented 75.3 per cent of all sudden deaths.

“Anyone suffering a cardiovascular condition is at risk of sudden slumping and dying. Although it is not all cases of sudden cardiac deaths that are caused by the heart as some of the cases are caused by the blood vessels.

 “When people slump and die, it is not only the heart that can be responsible; in fact, the brain has a lot to do with it. People can have strokes and become unconscious and even die.”

He said further, “Basically, things that cause what we call cardiovascular disease – the heart and the blood vessels. If the heart is diseased in different forms, it can cause the heart to stop working and the person can die. If the blood vessel has a problem, that is what causes a stroke and if it is very severe, the person can slump and die.

 “It doesn’t have to be the heart each time a person slumps and dies; it can be the heart, it can be the brain, and those are the two common reasons.”

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