WEEKEND SPOTLIGHT: Nollywood veterans ageing gracefully speak

By Femi Oguntayo | Nigerian Tribune |

Over the past few years, the Nigerian movie industry has lost several of its veterans who were all on top of their games during their time. In fact, according to some of the contemporary star actors and actresses, these veterans were the ones who sacrificed and paved the way for the booming Nigerian movie industry, which is now unarguably one of the leading movie industries in the world today.

Moreover, according to veteran actress and governor of the Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) in Oyo State, Rose Odika, who spoke with Saturday Tribune, there is a need to celebrate these veterans when they are still alive. In 2020 alone, the Nollywood has lost about 10 of its veterans.

In this report, Saturday Tribune listed Nigerian movie veterans who are ageing gracefully. They are actors and actresses who have been making our screens for a long time, who have paid their dues and have now become fatherly and motherly figures for the present day Nollywood stars.

Kareem Adepoju (Baba Wande, 75 years)

Born April 22, 1945, Nigerian film actor, writer and producer, Alhaji Kareem Adepoju popularly known as ‘Baba Wande’ shot to limelight in 1993 after he starred as ‘Oloye Otun’ in the movie, ‘Ti Oluwa Ni Ile’, which was produced by him. Baba Wande who celebrated his 52nd year on stage in 2015, started acting in 1963 with the Oyin Adejobi theater group.

The actor told Saturday Tribune that he was able to build his brand ‘Baba Wande’ over the years by being patient and contented. He also said that it was not by his might and he believes it was God’s grace that worked for him to remain relevant. He urged the present day stars to always be patient and avoid unnecessary competition among themselves.

He is happily married to his two wives and has many children.

Tony Akposheri (62 years)

Born in early 1958, Anthony Akposheri, an Urohbo from Delta State, is a long-standing veteran actor, motion picture producer and a director, who has become a household name in the Nigerian movie industry. He began acting with stage plays in 1976 at the National Museum, Onikan after the drama school. He thereafter joined the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) where he featured in ‘Masquerade’, a television series that eventually shot him to limelight. He has since then featured and produced several movies and has received several awards and honours both in and outside the country.

In a chat with Saturday Tribune the award winning veteran explained that the secret of staying relevant and keeping his brand is being real, humble and creative. “I make sure I am different from others, so I stand out. I don’t stop learning, I move with the time and what is in vougue and I use the good history of years back to correct the ills of today in the industry and life. Then again I take life very simple accepting whatever position I find myself. While on set or somewhere else I bring myself to the level of others, whether you are a P.A or playing an extra role, because a tree does not make a forest.  I do know very well that nothing is permanent in this life except changes. Then most of all I have the fear of God in me. I am that kind of man who believes so well in the mantra ‘do to others as you want them to do unto you’,” he said.

Kola Oyewo (74 years)

Born on the 26th of March, 1946, Kola Oyewo is a Nigerian veteran actor, dramatist and scholar and was born at Oba Ile, a town in Osun State. He attended Obafemi Awolowo University where he obtained a certificate in dramatic arts, a certificate in Yoruba oral literature before he later received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from the same university in 1995. He proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he received a Masters of Arts (M.A) and doctoracte degree in drama. He was prominent for the role he played as ‘Odewale’ in ‘The gods are not to be blamed’, a drama by Ola Rotimi.

Speaking with Saturday Tribune on how he started and managed to remain relevant over the years, he said: “I started when there was no film, no video and cinema. Started with the Oyin Adejobi theatre group, where we performed on stage and later performed on the television. When the optical film came on board, I started taking part, when the economic situation of the country did not permit that brand of film any longer, everybody moved to video and I joined them. I have not been doing this full time any longer as I now lecture in the university and also attend locations to take part in movies at the same time.”

Speaking further, Oyewo said he was able to maintain his brand because he was keenly interested and had the passion for what he was doing. He said it was not a matter of being forced to do it but he was interested and was doing it wholeheartedly, and he claimed to love being among his colleagues most of the time at movie locations.

He advised current movie stars to acquire more knowledge first, not chasing money and also advised to stay humble and that only by humility can they stay relevant.

Jimoh Aliu (85 years)

Prominent and known far and wide for his blockbuster movie, ‘Arelu’, veteran Nollywood actor, Jimoh Aliu is no doubt one of the oldest Nollywood veterans ageing gracefully. During the celebration of his 85th birthday in 2019, Jimoh Aliu told Saturday Tribune that he did not know what he has done to deserve the type of health and well-being he has from God. “I must say it is God, whether you use ‘medicine’ or anything, one day you will die. I cannot even imagine it myself that I am this old, because I still exercise and if you watch me while I train my apprentices during dance lessons, you will be amazed,” he explained.

Jimoh Aliu a higly respected classical Theatre Arts practitioner with a passionate interest in the life of the community and its cultural heritage, as well as commentator on Nigerian culture abroad, he forms a bridge between the old and the new Nigeria movie industry. He is a multi-talented performer. Actor, scriptwriter, producer, director, singer, dancer, make-up artist and location designer. He began his movie career in 1959, when Akin Ogungbe, a Nigerian veteran at that time visited his hometown, Okemesi-Ekiti.  He became famous for his hit TV productions, ‘Arelu’ and Yanpon Yanrin’ which also bore famous characters like Fadeyi Oloro and Orisabunmi.

Lere Paimo (80 years)

Popularly known as Eda Onileola or simply Baba Eda, is a Nigerian actor, filmmaker and movie producer. He began acting in 1960 with Oyin Adejobi theatre group. He later joined Duro Ladipo theatre group under which he travelled the world  presenting several stage plays and winning many laurels. Baba Eda was born on September 19, 1939. He was honoured with national award MFR by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. He is currently ageing gracefully in his retirement in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State.

Pete Edochie (73 years)

One of the most revered actors in the Nigerian movie industry; Pete was born March 1947 in Enugu, but originally from Anambra State and he is the father of popular Nollywood actor Yul Edochie. He was prominent as Okonkwo, the role he played in the movie Things Fall Apart, an adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s book of the same title. He has been in the picture from the inception of Nollywood. Edochie has featured in over 100 movies and he is renowned for playing royal, rich and the father roles. He is also popular for his use of Igbo proverbs in movies. He started out in life as a junior programme assistant at ABS in 1967. He rose to the level of deputy managing director before quitting broadcasting for movie. He recently featured in Genevive’s Award winning movie ‘Lionheart’.

Idowu Philips (Iya Rainbow, 77 years)

Iya Rainbow as she is fondly called was born on October 16th 1942; she is currently 77 years of age. She joined the theatre group started by her late husband Ayanfemi Phillips, Osumare (Rainbow) theatre group. She lost her husband in 1984 after being married only for 15 years. She was a registered nurse and worked with General Hospitals which she combined with acting until 1986 when she took up acting fully. She has featured in many movies and still runs several TV advertisements for quite a number of brands.

Olu Jacobs (77 years)

Multiple award-winning veteran actor, Olu Jacobs was born 11 July 1942 in Abeokuta.  He is a professional actor trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. He has starred in several British television shows and series and international films.  He later retired home where he had featured in over 200 movies. He is happily married to actress Joke Silva.

Jide Kosoko (66 years)

Jide Kosoko is one of Nigeria’s veteran actors who started acting at a very young age, as he began his acting career as a child actor in 1964 in a television production ‘Makanjuola’. He has featured in several Nollywood movies of both English and Yoruba languages. The young Kosoko grew up in Ebute Metta and was inspired by the success of Hubert Ogunde to go into acting. Kosoko continued with acting as he performed with the Awada Kerikeri group consisting of Sunday Omobolanle (Aluwe), Lanre Hassan (Iya Awero) and Oga Bello and in 1972, he formed his own theatre troupe.

He has written and produced his own films and stage plays including Ogun Ahoyaya. Kosoko became visible during the video film era, producing his own film, Asiri Nla in 1992, starring in Asewo to re Mecca and Tunde Kelani’s Ti Oluwa Nile (Part 2). He recently featured in popular Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys and several other movies.

Alex Usifo (67 years)

Veteran Nollywood actor, Alex Osifo was born on 16 April 1953. He is popular for playing the role of a strict father. Osifo’s foray into acting started in the 1970s when he was appointed as operation assistant at NTA, Benin. He is popular for his role in the TV series “Beyond The Dreams” which aired on NTA. He has featured in over a 100 movies and  has done many TV series too.

Source: Nigerian Tribune Online

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