Madubuogwu… The King of Musanga bows out
The name Obi Madubuogwu is not strange to Nollywood, and the teeming followers, as he was among the pioneers of what is today regarded one of the world’s largest film industry.
He no doubt came, saw and conquered, as he was first an actor, then a producer, before becoming an executive producer and sponsor of his own productions. High point of his career was when he played King Musanga in the movie Battle of Musanga, an epic film considered as the most expensive production with the largest number of cast and crew in the Nigerian film industry.
Weighing 300kg at the time, Madubuogwu was applauded and still being applauded till date as he literally ate up the role in the flick produced by Gabosky and Chezkay films. However tides turned for him health wise as he lost extreme weight in a whiff of time following trauma that came from stigmatization of alleged HIV/AIDS. Even a notable news magazine published in a banner headline that he was stricken with AIDS.
The revelation as to what was worrying him came to light when he was shooting Ulaga for Andy Best in Enugu. “I was with Andy Chukwu and a couple of close friends who did not stigmatise me through out the period. I had gone to urinate and Andy Chukwu had gone after me. He came back to where we were seated and told me that he saw ants trailing my urine.”
Entrance Into Moviedom
Madubuogwu’s passion and entrance into the movie industry was stirred after watching Okpulu Anyanwu and Mike Orihe Dimma, popular Igbo sitcom on television in Onitsha. He became a critic of the production until he joined a theatre group and shot the first film that gave him a launch pad— Power Of Love.
Following his display in Power of Love, he was offered a role in Evil Passion, which he missed but Alex Ezeamaku of Zelex Production gave a role in his Hidden Truth. His relationship Ezeamaku blossomed that they became friends, mentor and brought down to Onitsha from Lagos major stars to do movie Akadilke.
With so much confidence repose in him and believed he could produce a movie, Zelex brought him to Lagos. It was after understudying Zeb Ejiro that he decided to produce Agony, which was directed by Ndubuisi Okoh.
Having learned from master of the art, Madubuogwu produced Captives for IG Best, which was the first film for Clem Ohameze. He also was involved in True Confession, another early film of the era produced by NEK. The movie made him a local champion in Onitsha, as he grew very fast to outgrow the fame of his first film Power of Love, which was later dumped.
For him, the movie Forbidden gave him an identity, while Battle of Musanga popularized that identity. According him, his I strongly stage training helped him to interpret the role of the cannibal king, Musanga of Musanga kingdom who intimidated everyone and all his subjects.
Following his sterling display in Musanga, Tony Jickson contacted him to do Karashika followed by Conspiracy. His eyes opened up in production when he did Agunmba, which he sold to Somaco.
“I must say that coming to stay in Lagos as made possible by Zelex made me learn the ropes and started my success run. Again, acting from the early stages of Nollywood also gave me commercial value to produce movies. I was sincere with the marketers and was always seen as a part of them. That was why when we formed Film Cooperative of Nigeria (FCON), I always told them it was complimentary and not antagonistic trouble in the air,” he once told Vanguard in an interview.
Madubuogwu’s last cinematic outing was the 2015 movie, Grave Dust, which he produced and starred Ramsey Nouah, Joke Silva and Joseph Benjamin. He was hospitalised in December 2016, at the Federal Medical Centre, Railway Corporation, Ebute Metta, Lagos, where he was rendered immobile following by diabetes and deteriorating diabetic wounds.
Exit To From The Stage
Tragedy struck Monday afternoon, August 28, when he finally succumbed to whims of power of death after battling acute diabetic. Prior to his death, there were rumours of how friends and colleagues treated him like a leper and wouldn’t shake hands with him but dumped him in his village, Ogidi, Anambra State to die went round town.
Resolved to invest in the education of the world and especially members of his entertainment constituency on the gravity of diabetics as well as its management, he set up Saving Lives African Diabetes Foundation (SLADF) IN 2009.
According to Madubuogwu, “My experiences had told me many things about life and death because I was on death throes for years without knowing what was wrong with me. Lack of information and knowledge about the disease inspired me to form Saving Lives African Diabetes Foundation in 2009 because I benefited from knowledge about Diabetes and its management.”
“SLADF is a legacy I wish to leave for posterity. It is very wrong for people to think that Diabetes is for old people. I have seen a seven year old who had diabetes.
If you find yourself as diabetic, the first thing to do is to accept the situation. People die out of the confusion they notice.”