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Garlands for Nollywood veterans, Chinwe Owoh and Adebayo Salami

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It was celebration galore during the week as two veteran Nollywood personalities, Chinwe Owoh and Chief Adebayo Salami, aka Oga Bello, marked their birthdays.

Chinwe was the first to walk the red carpet on Tuesday as she turned 61. Popularly called ‘Mummy Chinwe’ by younger colleagues and friends, the humble, caring, straightforward and God-fearing actress, mother and grandmother is an old hand in the industry.

Also referred to as the ‘Mama of Nollywood,’ Chinwe was born and raised in Enugu, where she completed her primary, secondary and tertiary education. The Enugu State indigene joined the industry almost two decades ago and has since then been in mainstream acting, grabbing roles in movies produced mainly in the Southeast.

Star of the Nollywood blockbuster movie, Mothering Sunday, which brought her to limelight and kept her on the go-for-the actress list of most top producers, and best known for playing the good wife, the widow, queen mother or the mother who is always the one to care for her children, in most of her movie appearances, Chinwe is currently the state chapter Chairperson of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN).

She combines acting with being an administrator and a caregiver and philanthropist.

Movies that have benefited from her convincing portrayal include Raging Tiger, Traditional War, Sorrow and Tears, Beyond the Verdict, Lost Wealth, Sorrowful Passion, King of Igbo Land, Remote Control, Romeo, Nigerian Girls, For the Love of Money, After My Heart, Royal Tears, The Village Killer, Skolastica, Python Queen and Black Christmas.

On her career ambition, Chinwe said it is to continue to do her best, so that she can “touch and affect lives” and also remain relevant in the scheme of things.

She added: “I want to, through my work and effort, touch as many lives as I possibly can. There are so many people who need help. If I can’t reach them through the stories that we tell, I should be able to reach them physically by way of providing for their needs.

“I pray God enables me to be able to reach further out.”

Next day, Wednesday, Nollywood woke up to the good news that Salami, who is popular as Oga Bello, was a year older. In his sixties, Oga Bello is without a doubt, one of Nigeria’s living screen legends.

The filmmaker and President of the frontline movie production outfit, UBEE Media, Lagos, began his acting career in 1964. A founding member and at a time, president of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP), Salami got the appellation, ‘Oga Bello,’ from a popular Nigerian comedy series, Comedy 1/2 hour.

Chinwe Owoh. PHOTO: YouTube

The Kwara State indigene, who is fortunate to have most of his children doing so well in the motion picture industry, has produced and appeared in quite a good number of Nigerian television drama programmes and home videos.

An adherent of the stage and screen, who is currently focusing on his UBEE Media Network and School of Performing Arts in Lagos, Salami cut his teeth as a performer under the legendary Chris Olude, who ran the Lagos Drama School, and under another legend, Ojo Ladipo, who ran the Ojo Ladipo Theatre until his death.

Following the death of Ladipo, the baton of leadership fell on Salami, who led the group briefly until he teamed up with Sunday Omobolanle, aka Aluwe, and Madam Lanre Hassan, aka Iya Awero, to establish the Awada Kerikeri Organisation (AKO).

With AKO, Salami continued on television, but in 1985, the group produced a film on celluloid, titled Ogun Ajaiye, followed by critically-acclaimed films and videos, such as Omo Orukan and Eri Okan, as well as Asewo to re Mecca, which launched Sola Sobowale and Toyin Adegbola to prominence.

Still very active as an actor and producer, his children, including Femi and Tijani are notable amongst some of the sector’s best hands in marketing, acting, editing and production management.

Salami said he is in the world of make believe to play a long game, adding: “Of course, you know that there is no retirement; you can act till you are 120. Even if you can’t walk, they will create the role in such a way that you will sit down and just play your part.

“So, there is no retirement. One just prays for long life and good health.”


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