By Lamide Akintobi
The Nigerian entertainment industry has again been thrown into a state of sadness as one of its key players, Sam Loco-Efe passed away in his hotel room while on location in Owerri, Eastern Nigeria.
The veteran actor, one of the most gifted thespians of his generation had been frail for years, causing him to purportedly quit smoking and drinking – two of his major habits – in 2008.
Full details weren’t available at press time, but president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Segun Arinze confirmed to us that the 69-year-old actor died on Sunday August 7, 2011. ‘Yes it’s quite true. I’ll be making a statement tomorrow morning, I can’t say much because I want to verify details.’
As expected, fans and colleagues are shocked and bewildered – and many are already showering tributes on the late actor. Loco’s death comes barely months after another veteran Ashley Nwosu passed in Lagos, and about a month after another legendary entertainer Christy Essien-Igbokwe died.
Born in Enugu, Sam Loco-Efeeimwonkiyeke was an indigene of Benin in Edo state. He is survived by 6 children.
A graduate of theatre arts from the University of Ibadan, he shot to instant fame after he was voted best actor for his role in Langbodo, Nigeria’s only drama entry for the historic FESTAC ’77. He went on to establish himself as a remarkable stage actor and mentor to an entire generation of actors. He was also a major player in the movie industry, playing a variety of roles in Igbo and English movies for over three decades.
A chain smoker, drinker and womanizer, he once told reporters ‘Whatever gives you pleasure, please do it… I think one is free to do whatever gives him or her pleasure, provided one does not destroy self in the process.’
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