The first four months of 2019 has witnessed at least two deaths of movie practitioners whose ages range between 30 years and 58 years. The movie practitioners that have passed away have not only left sad pills on the mouth of the fans of these practitioners but also their friends and colleagues.
Early on Friday, January 4, Yoruba actor, Gbenga “Burger” Akintunde passed away, as reported by Pulse. He was 47-years-old. Exactly 17 days later, it was revealed that a younger actor, Adewale Olanrewaju aka ‘Ishow Larry’ also passed away. The two deaths left a hole in the heart of their families, friends, colleagues and fans with eulogies pouring in on different social media platforms - majorly Facebook and Instagram.
Reports of two Yoruba actors’ death in a month - and both under the age of 50 - saw practitioners kicking off the year with hopes of a better year ahead.
And just exactly a month after Gbenga “Burger” Akintunde’s death, Funmilayo ‘Ijewuru’ Ogunsola passed away on February 4, 2019. She died at the age of 53.
23 days after colleagues began mourning Ijewuru, the industry recorded another death. It was the death of Rotimi Alfred Popoola. Ogun state arm of the Theatre Arts and Movie Practitioners of Nigeria, TAMPAN, announced the death of Popoola, who starred in over 80 movies before his death.
March wasn’t to go without recording another death as actor, Tony Anyasodor passed away on March 8, 2019. And two days after Anyasodor’s death was announced, the industry was greeted with the news of Paul Emema, the brain behind popular soap opera in the early 9os, ‘Behind the Cloud’. Abe Ishola Monsurat Olabisi capped the month of March when she passed away on March 30, 10 days after welcoming a baby.
As the industry enters the second quarter, the news of comedian and actor, LinChung Duke Oliver rented the air on April 2, 2019. He died after a car crash on his way to Lagos.
Of all the deaths, LinChung was the only one that wasn’t associated with terminal or ill health. From Akintunde to Ijewuru, Larry Ishow, Popoola, Anyasodor and Emema, they were all health related deaths. This has left many wondering if the practitioners actually give worthy attention to their health or lack of funds should be held responsible for their deteriorating health before death.
However, help came to Babatunde ‘Babasuwe’ Omidina after news broke that his health was fast failing and the family sought donations. Babasuwe was further supported by TAMPAN and the Health minister, Professor Isaac Adewole. Babasuwe is back on his feet and ready to proceed to the United States of America to complete his treatment.
On March 28, the news of Samuel 'Alabi Yellow' Akinpelu broke and practitioners are already rallying round to help him regain his health. But the question remains, what can be done to reduce the death rate of popular Nigerian movie stars who resort to seeking funds when terminal ailments hit them? An arm of the industry has been working on health insurance programmes but while some of the entertainers embraced the ideas, others aren’t sure of its possibility. Let’s only pray no more deaths are recorded till the end of the year.