Life is a beautiful gift, but it is also fleeting. As much as we wish we could hold on to our loved ones forever, the harsh reality is that nothing lasts. In 2023, the Nollywood industry mourned the loss of several talented stars who left this world too soon.
Their absence has left an immense void that cannot be filled. While they live on in our hearts through their incredible works, a part of us died with them on the day they took their last breath.
Let us take a moment to honor these fallen heroes and remember the joy and magic they brought to the world of African cinema.
1. Peace Anyiam- Osigwe
Peace Anyiam-Osigwe who was a native of Imo state was a Nigerian filmmaker and entertainment executive. He was also known by her moniker “queen of nollywood films” and was the founder of the globally acclaimed film ceremony African Movie Academy Awards which she started in Yenagoa, Bayela state on the 30th of May, 2005.
She was also notable for the screening of Nollywood films at International Film Festivals and was bestowed by the Nigerian government a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic for her contribution to the entertainment industry. She died at the St Nicholas Hospital in Lagos on the 9th of January,2023 at the age of 53 after suffering a heart attack which led to to a 2-day coma .
2. Chief Sunday Akanbi Akinola ( Feyikogbon)
Ace Veteran actor Chief Sunday Akanbi Akinola who became popular for his role as “mogaji “ in the series “ Feyikogbon “which aired on NTA channel 7 in the southwestern Nigeria in the 1980’s, died on the 9th of January, 2023 of Kidney failure at the age of 80.
Prior to his death, the actor had solicited for help from the public in 2019 for financial assistance to treat the illness, saying that his role in the series had only given him fame without finance.
3. Femi Ogunrombi (Papa Ajasco)
Femi Ogunrombi who played the role of Papa Ajasco, a character known for his portly belly and hitting his head while saying “Ojigbigbigbi” in the TV comedy series Papa Ajasco and company by Wale Adenuga Production died on the 14th of January, 2023.
Femi Ogunrombi was a native of Abeokuta in Ogun State. He rose to fame after taking over the character of Papa Ajasco in 2005 when Mr Abiodun Ayoyinka pulled out of the show. He was a member of the National Troupe of Nigeria in 1994 and worked as the director of Nigerian National Music and conducted National Choir in 1998. He was also the director of studies at the Pencil Film and Television Center in Lagos.
4. Favour Agiounim Daniels
The young comedienne and actress popularly known as ‘Omoge,’ ‘Oma” and ‘Amama’ who had gained popularity through her skits on social media passed away after a boating accident on the 5th of February, 2023 at the age of 26.
It was indeed a sad day for the industry as many experienced disbelief and shock at the news.
5. Chief Ojo Arowosafe ( Fadeyi Oloro)
The actors whose death was announced by his daughter Fasunwon Oluwafunke, passed on Tuesday the 7th of March 2023 at the age of 66 after battling a terminal disease for years. He was a native of Igbara Odo in Ekiti state.
Popularly known for his oratory skills in reciting Yoruba incantations, he rose to fame after acting the movie ‘Arelu’ in the late 80’s.
He also acted in movies like Inubibi, Anike Olufa and Akoni mefa among others.
6. Obinna Nwafor (Saint Obi)
Veteran actor and movie producer Obinna Nwafor also known as Saint Obi passed on at the age of 57 after a protracted illness. He died in May, 2023.
It was disclosed that the actor had died early in the week after battling an undisclosed illness for several months with no successful treatment although the family chose not to announce his death for reasons not yet ascertained.
The actor had battled an undisclosed ailment for sometime and was reported to have relocated to Jos, the Plateau State capital for further treatment of the ailment that had kept him in and out of the hospital for over two years.
He acted in movies like Heartless, Take me to Mama, Festival of fire, among others.
7. Murphy Afolabi
Popular Yoruba Yoruba, Murphy Afolabi died on the 14th of May, 2023 after a tragic fall from his bathroom in his home in Ikorodu area of Lagos.
The actor had just celebrated his 49th birthday before his tragic death.
Born on May 5, 1974, Afolabi got into the movie industry in 2001. Prior to that, he had studied Theatre Arts and Film Production at the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree. He appeared in over 60 movies before his death, including ‘Ifa Olokun’, ‘Omowunmi’, ‘Jimi Bendel’, ‘Wasila Coded’, ‘Olokiki Oru’, and ‘Idera’
8. Adedigba Mukaila
Among the notable personalities who died this year is Veteran actor Adedigba Mukaila, known for his stage name ‘Alafin Oro’. He died on the 13th of May, 2023.
His death was announced by fellow actor Kunle Afod , on his social media page.
He wrote; “Another library is burnt down today. A great philosopher, an icon with so much Yoruba knowledge, a lover of God @alafinoro1. You departed this sinful world in early hour of today, May your gentle soul rest in peace.”
9. Chikezie Uwazie
The death of Nollywood actor Chikezie Uwazie was announced on 15 May, 2015. He died in the United States after undergoing brain surgery.
His death was announced by colleague, Obey Etok, via her Instagram page on Sunday.
She wrote, “I can’t imagine I’m posting this. Chikezie Uwazie gone. After a 2nd brain surgery. Gini na emezi. I’m so shocked to get this news this evening. Just got this from our IMSU alumni platform.
“I thought you told me you were going to the States for greener pastures. You promised to come back some years back but I didn’t see you.
“I can’t believe you are gone but God knows best. Rest on Chyko.”
10. Oluyemi Lawrence Adeyemi
Popular Nollywood actor, Oluyemi Lawrence Adeyemi, better known as Suara died on Sunday, September 24. The cause of his death remains unknown to his colleagues.
11. Natty Bruce Idigbogu
Natty Bruce Idigbogu, a well-known Nollywood producer and director, passed away at the age of 57.
12. Don Brymo Uchegbu
Legendary actor Don Brymo Uchegbu, best known for his royal father, traditional roles in movies, died in June after he slumped while shooting film in Ahoada, Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. He was 56 years old.
The passing of these incredible talents has left an undeniable sting. However, we must find comfort in knowing that although they are no longer with us physically, their legacy and the memories they created will live on forever. Their brilliant performances touched millions of hearts and pioneered the African film industry.
As long as Nollywood stands, a part of them will stand with it, their light continuing to guide new generations of storytellers. Their absence has created a void, but their spirit and the joy they brought to audiences can never be taken away.
They were ahead of their time and now watch over us from a better place. We will hold them in our hearts and honor their memory through celebrating African storytelling.