Untimely Death: Fear Grips Nollywood

Posted on October 04 2011 , at 08:42 pm
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By Lolade Sowoolu

In the space of 16  months, Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood has lost no less than nine of it’s members to the cold hands of death. And these are the reported ones.

The shocking frequency of occurrence stands at one person every two months and this statistics is sending ripples of fear throughout the make-believe camp.

Apart from the grief of losing colleagues and the burden of having to comfort the bereaved families, a stronger emotion hovering in the movie landscape is the fear of not knowing who’s next. With the average dying age standing at 53, actors and producers are seeking divine intervention cum covering.

It began with veteran Television idol, Toun Oni who lost the battle to illness on Wednesday, July, 7, 2010. She was two years away from joining the Septuagenarian club when she passed.  Four months later, a popular Hausa actress, Hajiya Amina Garba a.k.a Mama Dumba kicked the bucket when her body could no longer fight the Diabetes, Ulcer and High Blood Pressure that plagued her. The death was more devastating to her husband of three weeks whom she had just married.   The months of March, April and June 2011 saw successive deaths in Nollywood. Beginning with Yoruba actor, Ishola Durojaiye a.k.a Alasari who was involved in a fatal accident along Lagos-Abeokuta express way owing to a burst car tyre while in motion, the 49 year old actor seemed to call on other colleagues in his grave.  In April, the blow was massive. Popular veteran actor, Ashley Nwosu died of liver complications at the Military Hospital Yaba, Lagos.

It became unbearable and a panic stricken assembly of Nollywood stars led by the Guild’s president, Segun Arinze, sought the revered General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to help ward off the spate of deaths that had hit their industry. The man of God who not only prayed for them in one of his churches in Ebute-Metta, Lagos, also implored the model-celebrities to harness their talents in a righteous and profitable way and shun wickedness.

‘You need something extra, something supernatural to make it in life. The sorrow of those who go to the devil for help will be multiplied’, the cleric preached.

Death seemed to take a break for weeks and by the time it came back in June, it claimed two remarkable actresses in the space of five days. On Saturday, June 25, news filtered in from the United Kingdom that trend-setter, Yemisi Eleto (real names Yemisi Akande) had bitten the dust leaving her children in the care of her aged mother. Yemisi was only 39.

Africa’s Lady of songs and Nigerian actress, Christy Essien was next to shock the world. The singer/actress had only turned 50, the previous November and was on her way to releasing another music album after a long hiatus.  On August 6, 2011, immensely popular movie and television idol, Sam Loco Efe died doing what he did best. The actor, producer was found in an Owerri hotel room exhausted from excessive stress after producing a movie. The ripples of mourning transcended the industry as fans struggled to accept the truth demanding that an autopsy be carried to ascertain the source of his death.

September 5 and 23 took home actress Geraldine Ekeocha and producer Donald Okoli respectively. The former gave up the ghost after an unsuccessful Fibroid operation while Don died in his sleep.

Of course these are not the only deaths that have occurred in the Nigerian community. People die everyday all over the world and only a tiny fraction of deaths are published in the Dailies. However, by reason of being in the public eye, showbiz practitioners are virtually related to everyone who consumes their products and as such are more widely mourned than people who die in more conservative industries.

But Nollywood is not finding things funny. Insiders say panic is setting in, with many bothered beyond limits; concerned about the recent deaths and looking for ways to save themselves. ‘No one is sure what’s happening. It looks like it’s normal, because people die everyday, but we’re concerned. I have coleagues who are already fasting and praying. We’re even hoping to do an industry prayer week so these sad deaths do not continue…’  A top actor told us late last week.

‘Infact some are going to spiritualists. Everyone is doing what they know to seek protection for themselves and those they’re close to’, another source said.



Date Of Death


Toun Oni


July 7, 2010 Illness
Sam Loco Efe


August 6, 2011 Excessive Stress
Geraldine Ekeocha


Sept. 5, 2011 Fibroid Operation
Hajiya Amma Garba a.k.a Mama Dumba


Nov. 29,2010 Illness
Ishola Durojaiye a.k.a Alasari


March 20, 2011 Car Accident
Ashley Nwosu


April 21, 2011 Liver ailment
Yemisi Akande a.k.a Yemisi Eleto


June 25, 2011 Illness
Christy Essien


June 30, 2011 Brief illness
Donald Okoli

Late 30s

Sept. 23, 2011 Died in sleep

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