Nollywood lost some of its notable players in 2021. Death dealt a blow on the industry and got tears flowing freely in 2021. The spotlight is on some notable players in the industry that will be missing in action in the New Year.
Folake Aremu aka Orisabumni
Death snatched veteran actress Folake Aremu aka Orisabunmi in 2021. The fiery screen goddess who rode into prominence in the 80’s playing Orisabunmi in a TV series ‘Arelu’ reportedly died at her Ibadan, Oyo state residence late on January 5. Aged 61, the actress was buried on January 28 in her home town Olla in Kwara state. An actress of vast credit, Folake earned the alias Orisabunmi after she delightfully interpreted the role of a pacifying priestess Orisabunmi in a 1987 TV series ‘Arelu’ produced by her former husband Jimoh Aliu, who passed on in October 2019. She was later to feature as the priestess Orisabunmi in most stage and screen productions of the 90’s. Star of critically acclaimed films such as Yanponyarin and Fopomoyo the veteran actress will be remembered for her inimitable role interpretation and for her chants and oratory.
Death dealt a blow on the industry when it snatched notable actress Rachel Oniga. Tears and tributes flowed freely when news broke on July 30 that the veteran actress, Rachel Oniga, had passed on. Online news sources said the actress, clearly one of the queen mothers of Nollywood died of COVID-19. But family sources confirmed that the mother and grandmother died of heart related disease. An actor’s actor of vast credit, Oniga’s strength as an actress in Nollywood was in her ability to act both in Yoruba and English language movies, a reason she was described freely as a cross over actress. A native of Eku in Delta state and recipient of several industry awards including the Best Yoruba actress by the organisers of the THEMA awards in 1998, Oniga would be remembered for her beatific performances in movies such asx ‘Take Me to Mama’, ‘Onome’, ‘Owo Blow’, ‘My Mothers Pregnancy’, ‘Big Time Chick’, ‘Kada River’, ‘Lady in the Forest’ and ‘Naija Christmas’ as directed by Kunle Afolayan for Netflix.
Light dimmed on one of Nollywood’s most sought after actors of the 90s and 2000s Ernest Asuzu in 2021. Tributes flowed for the actor whom producers made their first choice for an actor who could delightfully live the role of a lover boy or a mean fellow in a crime movie. For most fans of Nollywood movies, a crime, adventure or love story was not complete without Ernest Asuzu. His deft handling of crime and romantic roles earned him the sobriquet ‘Original Bad Boy’ and made him a darling of the movie crowd. But the multitalented actor and singer has passed on. Aged 43, Ernest, who hailed from Imo state, grew up in Lagos. He had his early education in Lagos and joined the movie industry in 1997.
His first appearance in a movie was in ‘Dirty Game’. It took Asuzu’s performance in ‘Dirty Game’ and a few others after it such as ‘My Guy’, ‘Chain Reaction’ and Teco Benson’s ‘Broad Day Light’ for Asuzu’s talent to become noticeable. Another pronounced performance in Teco Benson’s ‘Formidable Force’ and other movies such as ‘Passionate Soul’, ‘Another Campus Tale’ and ‘Power of Trust’ earned Asuzu a comfortable listing on the unofficial list of recognisable and A-list actors. Star of a number of Yoruba language movies including ‘Ogidan’ and ‘Ago Kan Oru’, Asuzu later veered full time into music production and launched a 7-tracker album in November 2020 titled ‘The Truth’. Asuzu reportedly declared at the launch that he was back, better and stronger and was set to make a loaded comeback to the movie turf. But that will no longer be as light has dimmed on the beloved Nollywood actor who will be remembered for his stunning run in movies such as ‘My Guy’, ‘Power of Trust’, ‘Last Wedding’, and ‘Broad Daylight’.
Nollywood was thrown into deep mourning when news broke that Tinsel Actor Victor Olaotan has taken the final curtain call. The actor who was bedridden following a ghastly motor accident he had nearly five years ago passed on in October. An actor’s actor of vast credit who for about seven years breathed real life into the character of Fred Ade Williams on the Mnet flagship soap ‘Tinsel’, Victor who was born in Lagos in the early 50’s studied drama at the University of Ibadan, at the Obafemi Awolowo University and at Rockets University, USA. An accomplished stage and screen actor, Olaotan warmed his way into the consciousness of television viewers, playing the leading role in Tinsel. Only few episodes of the soap that started airing in August 2008 and Olaotan has become a household name. With the Rhythm stopping for him in 2021, Olaotan will be missing in action in 2022.
Prince Ifeanyi Dike
The industry had hardly smarted off the news of the death of Rachel Oniga and Victor Olaotan, when news broke again that another veteran actor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Prince Ifeanyi Dike had passed on. The actor and guild administrator reportedly passed early on August 27. President of the AGN Emeka Rollas who broke the news on an industry whatsapp platform confirmed that the actor who few years back had a successful surgery in India had been ill. A founding member of the AGN and at a time President of the guild, Dike was until his death the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the AGN. He made name as a television producer, presenter and was involved in industry politics before his demise.
Nollywood is still mourning the death of one of its illustrious members Sam Obiago. Popular as Daddy Sam, the actor and creative designer passed on December 22 after a brief illness. Sam has featured in over 100 movies and was an executive member of the Creative Designers Guild of Nigeria (CDGN). Described as a jolly good fellow by his colleagues, Daddy Sam has graced the cover jacket of movies such as ‘The Kings Decision’, ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘The Orbit’, ‘Battle of Kings’, and ‘My Decision’. among others.
*The Roll Call: Babatunde Omidina, Abiodun Aleja, Bruno Iwouha, Sadiq Daba, Rich Oganiru, Jim Lawson Maduike, Dan Nkolaogu, Victor Decker, Stanley Okoro.
Stop Destroying Nation’s Artefacts In Name Of Religion-Don
A University of Nigeria, Nuskka, lecturer, Dr Joshua Uzuegbu, has urged Nigerians to desist from destroying the nation’s artefacts, especially shrine objects, in the name of religion.
Uzuegbu made the call on Thursday during the 2022 International Museum Day celebration, organised by the National Museum of Unity (NMU) in Enugu.
He described the objects as the “cultural heritage and property handed over to us by our forefathers”.
Uzuegbu, who teaches in the Humanities Unit, School of General Studies in the university, argued that the objects were used in the past to celebrate traditions.
According to him, shrines have a lot of objects, like woods, ivory, stone, Terracotta, glass, bronze, brass and iron, which are driven by spirits invoked into them.
“When we stop worshipping them, they become pieces of wood, useless and powerless,” Uzuegbu said.
He said that instead of destroying them “we should keep them in museums for future generations to see.
“It is disheartening when we destroy these sacred objects due to our new-found religion or being born again.
“I am not saying that the new religion is bad but for the fact that we came from somewhere, there is need to ensure that one religion will not disturb the other.
“There is need to remove whatever that is evil in them as many of those artifacts taken away by the colonial masters, which today are fetching them huge revenue” he said.
He argued that the objects would become ineffective when they are removed from the shrines and no longer honoured with libations.
Earlier, the Director-General of the National Commission For Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Prof. Abba Tijani, said the commission had begun to connect the past with the future, using digital technology.
Tijani, represented by the NMU Curator, Mr Aloysius Duru, said: “The world is gradually moving from analogue to digital space.
Jeymes Samuel’s Book Of Clarence Debuts, Soon
Jeymes Samuel has announced that his next project will be based on blacks living in the biblical era.
The singer-songwriter whose 2021 Western ‘The Harder They Fall’ was inspired by the need to introduce diversity in the genre, revealed in a new interview that his new feature titled, The Book of Clarence will be set in the bible times in what he described as “the biggest franchise in the world.”
“The Bible’s the biggest franchise in the world. The biggest superhero, the most famous superhero of all time is Jesus himself,” Jeymes revealed. “But when I used to learn about those things when I was a kid, I used to say to myself, Where did Jesus buy his sandals from? Did he walk around barefoot? Did he buy his clothes or did people just say, “Hey Jesus, wear this?” Was there a particular brand that he liked, or a particular tailor who made his shawl?
“The Bible just gives you bricks. But the mortar you’re meant to fill in yourself. I want to show who he [Jesus] bought them from and what that guy was doing. What the guy that sold him those sandals had for breakfast, for dinner. Who was in the hood? Who was the troublemaker, or the cool dude that the girls liked? Who was the kid with aspirations? Who was the nincompoop? That stuff is what fascinates me about that era. The Book of Clarence is all of that stuff. It’s a really awesome, awesome, awesome tale.”
“I want to tell the tales that we’ve never had before. We’ve never had Black people in the Bible days of cinema. Even when Andrew Lloyd Webber made something as nuanced as Jesus Christ Superstar, there’s no Black people in it, except Judas. Judas was the Black guy. “I’m going to betray you, Jesus.” What the hell? That’s what you’re giving us? That’s the Black guy? You saw what I did with the Western. I want to give people something to talk about.”
Femi Adebayo’s ‘King Of Thieves’ Grosses Over N250m In Box Office
A Nollywood Actor, Femi Adebayo, says his new epic movie, titled, ‘King of Thieves’ known as Agesinkole, generated over N250 million in its first three weeks premiere at the cinema.
Adebayo disclosed this in an interview with news men on Sunday in Ilorin.
He said the movie, which cost him several millions of naira to produce, made over N43 million in three days at its first opening at the cinema despite being the Ramadan period.
The popular movie producer- cum lawyer and actor, said that the plan was to leave the film at the cinema for two months where it was expected to make not less than N200 million.
“In the history of Nollywood, no movie has ever made N43 million in three days of its opening at the cinema, that is an amount of money some movies will make in three months.
“The movie has actually paved way for many providers and producers that are producing indigenous contents,” he said.
Adebayo, who disclosed that the movie took him more than a year to produce, said it was a huge success and that he least expectied the acceptability of the work.
He said the movie was his first traditional film, adding that it has always been his dream to produce that kind of movie for so many years in the industry.
“The plan was to do a huge movie that will remind people of the beauty of Yoruba culture and I waited till it was time.
“My intention was to showcase the beauty of Yoruba culture to the entire world and at the same time to be able to say one or two things about the society, especially our leaders.
“When I was much younger, I had the opportunity to see the beautiful works of Albert Ogunde, he showcased that beauty in Yoruba culture being a Yoruba man,” Adebayo said.
Talking about the challenges faced during the production of the movie, Adebayo said he had to embark on a wide research on Ifa as a Muslim.
He further said that finding a location to shoot the film took them a lot of time.
“I saw everything that fascinated me in the location we later got, the village, the river.
“I saw almost 70 per cent of my movie in there even though we had to build more, our caster crew were scared because of insecurity and we had to beef up security.
“If you look at the cast, we had ‘A-List Actors’, it was challenging to get their time together, waiting for them to have a uniform timing took almost one and half year to plan the movie,” Adebayo revealed.
Even though Adebayo refused to put a tag on the cost of the production, he reluctantly nod his head to agree that it crossed a N100 million mark to produce Agesinkole.
Tidesports source reports that “King of Thieves” is an epic tale of Agesinkole, an all-powerful bandit and his reign of terror in the prosperous Kingdom of Ajeromi.
Concerned by his pillaging, the kingdom moves to destroy him, through the hunters, witches and priests, thus beginning this adventurous saga of revenge, bravery and glory.
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