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‘Harvest of deaths’ in Nollywood

By Shaibu Husseini
07 May 2022   |   2:13 am
It is just five months into the year and practitioners in the Nigerian film industry have found themselves singing dirges more than they have hit locations.

It is just five months into the year and practitioners in the Nigerian film industry have found themselves singing dirges more than they have hit locations. Between January and early this May, the industry has been thrown into deep shock owning to the death of notable practitioners of the industry.

Nollywood dripped in tears when the death of veteran actor Romanus Amuta was announced on February 10, 2022. He died after battling a protracted illness. Amuta, 79, made waves after he played Natty in the popular 80’s sitcom, New Masquerade.

Before Amuta’s passing, the industry was mourning the death John Adewuni Adewoye, popularly known as Tafa Oloyede. The veteran actor died on February 2, 2022. Aged 69 years old having been born on November 19, 1952, Adewoye who began acting in 1974 under the tutelage of the Legendary Oyin Adejobi and who is best known for featuring in movies such as Jaiyesimi, Ayanmo, Ekuro Oloja, Orogun, Akanji Oniposi would have clocked 70 this year.

The industry was mourning Amuta and Adewoye when news broke that veteran actor, BabaLari Williams died on February 28, at the age of 81. The actor passed on in his maternal native home Ikom in Cross Rivers State after a protracted illness. Born to a father Tao Williams who is originally from Lagos Island local council of Lagos state and to a mum Mrs Elizabeth Williams who is from Yala in Cross Rivers state, Uncle Lari was first known nationally for his portrayal of Ladipo, the disarmingly humble lead actor in Lola Fani Kayode’s long rested and applauded soap on television Mirror in the Sun.

The old boy of St Paul Breadfruit School and the famous CMS Grammar School all in Lagos, rode on the back of that successful soap to become one of Nigeria’s well regarded character actors starring in numerous stage and screen efforts like For Better for Worse, Village Headmaster, Adio Family and Third Eye.

Reputed as the first president of Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, the actor was buried in Ikom, Cross Rivers State on April 14. Just when industry players were preparing to pay Lari Williams the last respect, news broke again that notable actress Shade Akin Taylor, popularly known as Oluweri Magbojo, had passed on. The actress who is popular amongst fans of Yoruba language movies reportedly died at the age of 59 in the United Kingdom.

Star of the movie Oluweri Mabo Ojo where she earned her alias, Shade, was well known for her dramatic style of makeup, especially her curvy brows.
Nollywood was left to mourn again when news broke on April 1 that popular actor, Dejo Tunfulu, with the real name, Kunle Mac-Adetokunbo, had passed on. Aged 49, the comic actor, writer, and producer is best known for playing the role of a clown in movies. An actor of vast credit, Tunfulu, as he is simply called by colleagues and fans began his acting career in the late 80’s and has featured in a number of stage and screen productions, including Apere Ijongbon, Omo Oran and Aje ni Iya mi, where he played the role of Dejo. Tunfulu has since been buried according to Islamic injunction.

If the news of the sudden demise of Tunfulu shook Nollywood, the death of fast rising Nollywood actress Takor Veronica on March 23 dealt a big blow on the industry. The pretty Benue born actress was found dead in a hotel room in Makurdi, Benue state.

Just last week, news broke that fast rising Nollywood actress Chinedu Bernard had passed on. The actress reportedly died after she slumped while cleaning the Chapel of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, Enugu, on April 29, 2022. Sources said she was rushed to the East Side hospital in Enugu where the doctors certified her dead.

Born on May 26, Bernards had featured in a number of movies including The Regret, Royal Bracelet, Onlocked, My Sister’s Man, Love Without Conscience, Just A Wish, Money Fever, Who Runs The City.

President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Emeka Rollas Ejezie described Bernard’s death as shocking and mysterious. Ejezie, however, observed that the death of the actress raises a number of questions, one of which is why “someone who reportedly slumped inside a church sustained bruises on the face. So, it’s either someone killed her or she took a suicidal substance and decided to die in the church. Autopsy must be conducted to ascertain the main cause of her death,’’ Ejezie said.

If Ejezie found Bernard’s death shocking, he was completely broken when news got to him that another Nollywood actress Francisca Choji had passed on. The Jos based actress was found dead in a hotel in Jos, Plateau State. It was gathered that her remains was found at Rayfield Resort in Jos, Plateau State, on May 1.

Death pounced on Nollywood again during the week and this time, it snatched the actor David Osagie. Known for playing the role of a king in most movies, Osagie died hours after he was on a movie set. He reportedly died in his sleep.

Osagie’s colleague Ngozi Ezeh, who broke the news, said the actor was not sick, but slept and didn’t wake up the following day.

“I hate to say this, but we have lost another Nollywood king, Sir David. He wasn’t sick, it just happened. How do we explain this, another loss in Nollywood? Oh, Lord have mercy. I Mourn again oh,’’ she wrote on her Instagram page.

Also reacting, Actress Ibiwari wrote: “this can’t be explained oh, he filmed yesterday and went back to rest hoping to resume shoot today, but never woke up.” A scriptwriter, producer and professional talent developer, Osagie is survived by a wife and children.