Harvest of death in Nollywood

| February 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

PRESIDENT of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Ibinabo Fiberisima has set up a prayer group on blackberry. Also, she is canvassing the setting up of an all entertainment practitioners prayer forum. Concerned about the spate of death in the entertainment industry particularly the Nollywood divide, Fiberisima, who has spent more time since she assumed headship of the actors’ body superintending over obsequies than she has spent setting the AGN on the right path as she promised, thinks it is necessary for her colleagues and practitioners alike to get together and in her words “pray for God to be merciful to entertainers, share the grace of God and start to show some love and care to one another.’’

In one of the group discussions, Fiberisima canvassed a day of national prayer for the entertainment industry ostensibly to avert the so many cases of sudden death that have plagued the industry in recent time. She has also been in the forefront of agitation for the establishment of a welfare scheme for actors and practitioners alike.

With such a scheme in place, she would always argue, practitioners will no longer go “cap in hand begging for assistance” for any ailing member.  To show her commitment, she has introduced an insurance scheme and health plan for actors, while she has embarked on touring all state chapters of the AGN to encourage them to get on the scheme.

Problem has however been low response from actors some of whom complain of ‘low earning’.  Low earning? Observers have found that a strange excuse to give considering that actors ride in posh cars and live in high profile areas. “Those who are driving posh cars and living in choice homes and areas know what they are doing to make money,’’ remarked a veteran actor. “They can’t swear that they bought those cars and houses from their earning as actors. How much do they earn per job and how many jobs can they possibly do in a year to buy, let’s say, a range rover? They know what they are doing by the side. We don’t earn much as actors. The highest you can earn now as an actor is between 400 thousand naira and 500 hundred thousand naira and you must be a top actor to earn that.

“Those of us considered old are paid 50 thousand and sometimes even 30 thousand, which we finish spending before the job is completed. So how can we buy houses and cars with 30 thousand naira,” he lamented. A lot of the other actors shared that sentiments but others — some A-list actors who don’t want their names mentioned attribute the travail of most actors to lack of planning.

In the words of one of the popular actors: “we think it will always be good, so when we make monies we blow it on drinks, fashion, women and general things that wont add up to our existence and before we know what is happening, the jobs will no longer come in and then we are broke and down and when something happens we begin to run around for help. So as you lay your bed, you sleep on it.’’ Fiberisima shares in this actors’ sentiment but she thinks that the industry has grown well enough to have a system in place that will cater for members when they are out of jobs.

She said. “The plan is to form the actors’ equity which is a contributory scheme that will enable you draw from when you are out of work. It falls in line with saving for the dry season, which you said some actors talked about.  I think we need to begin to care for ourselves and show love to one another.  It is one death too many for us actors.’’

Indeed, movie practitioners have spent more time mourning than they have spent in being on location. It has been from one candle light procession to another since late last year. Nollywood had hardly dapped the tears occasioned by the sudden death of popular actor Chief Pete Eneh when news broke that light had dimmed on the veteran stage and screen actor, Enebeli Elebuwa. Chief Eneh who had his left leg amputated after he battled with a leg infection passed on in November in Enugu where he was based. Eneh, popular for playing the elder, uncle or king in most Nollywood films was buried in January, a few days after, Enebeli, a very distinguished member of the motion picture industry was interred. Enebeli passed on in India after a long drawn battle with stroke. The Delta state born actor and former staff of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was bedridden for several months after he reportedly suffered severe stroke attack. Help came for him from the Delta State governor, Dr Emmanuel Udughan who approved that Elebuwa be flown abroad for treatment. His demise meant that the actor, who has put in over three decades in the acting profession, did not survive the stroke that kept him off the screen.

The crowd that turned out at the candle light ceremony organized by the Ibinabo Fiberisima led Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) with support from the Delta State government in honour of Elebuwa at Ojez Restaurant in Lagos was unprecedented.

In that crowd was the indubitable elder actor of vast credits Justus Esiri.  The elder actor had come to pay tributes to a man he described as a “long standing friend, colleague and brother.”  He talked about how they met and how they have ran along as colleagues. It is ironic that a man who was paying tributes the other day will be the man who others will line up to pay tribute to when his obsequies is announced. Justus Esiri is late. He passed on late on Tuesday night after a brief illness. He would have been 71 in November. Esiri’s death is coming almost five days after the AGN announced the sudden death of its former three time state chapter Secretary Lugard Onoyemu.  Lugard reportedly died at the practice pitch of the national stadium in Surulere Lagos while preparing for a novelty football match between the AGN and SUN newspaper, which the AGN had fixed as part of its AGN week.

Tributes have continued to pour in for both Lugard and Esiri. Founder and chief Executive Officer of the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) Peace Anyiam Osigwe have described the death of Esiri as ‘shocking’ and one death too many. She said Esiri was a thorough bred professional who was committed and passionate about the arts. “He was a professional to the core and was at home with acting’ Osigwe said. Esiri’s colleague on the set of the Village Headmaster, Dejumo Lewis who sat not too far from Esiri during Enebeli’s candle light event almost refused to pay tributes to a colleague he described as a ‘wonderful being’. He recalled how Esiri conducted himself during their days on the set of the Village Headmaster and how he played the role of the Village Headmaster delightfully. “You cannot fault his delivery. When you say someone is a consummate actor, then it’s Justus Esiri,” he said. President of the AGN Ibinabo Fiberisima recalled her last moment with the elder actor. She said: ‘‘it was at Enebeli’s candle light ceremony. He walked up to me, embraced me and said, ‘thank you for all you are doing for us. Thank you for bringing us together and for even thinking of a welfare scheme for actors especially we the veterans.’ I was so touched and moved that I knelt to thank him too for coming out to support what we are doing. I mean someone of his stature and achievement will say, I don’t want to mix with these young ones but he came and had been up and doing and he has never stopped at advising us to come together to speak with one voice.  He told me he is not happy with the so many discordant tunes in the industry but was glad that I am beginning to bring actors together so we can rebuild AGN. And as soon as I announced that veterans amongst us should let us have their contact details, so we can check and care for them, he was the first to volunteer all his details. It is painful he’s passed on now because this is the time I need him most. He is a stabilizer. I recalled how he travelled on his own expense to Benin to monitor the AGN national election, which didn’t hold and how he tried to broker peace. We will miss Uncle Justus,” she surmised.

No words yet on the burial arrangement for the actor. One thing that is sure is that whenever a date is fixed, the industry will rise for the consummate and intense actor who also fits to be called a world-class actor

Culled from :Here

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Category: Entertainment