Enebeli Elebuwa: Nollywood, stakeholders mourn

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By Benjamin Njoku

Veteran Actor, Enebeli Elebuwa 66, died last Wednesday after losing his over one-year battle with stroke at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Faridabad Haryana, New Delhi, India.

His death  indeed has elicited sorrow, grief and pain, which the industry has been plagued into in the last couple of months after it  lost other veteran actors,  Akin Ogungbe and Peter Eneh to the cold hands of death.

He gave up the ghost after efforts to restore his health in Nigeria had failed. He had battled the partial stroke for more than one year.

The Ukpane, Delta State born actor was one of the most experienced actors in the country, having been prominent in the industry for almost four decades. Many movie buffs still relish the role he played in soaps like Mirror In The Sun, where he featured in the first three editions after which he worked as Assistant Producer and Director.

The first movie he featured in was Dinner With The Devil produced in 1974 by Sanya Dosunmu. He thereafter featured in another rested TV series, Village Headmaster . He played prominent roles in countless number of home videos.

However, after battling the protracted illness, Pa Enebeli was at the Perfect Christian Ministry, Surulere, Lagos apparently to seek spiritual solution. It was followed by claims by Pastor Fireman that  he had healed the famous actor. The claim was followed by a video posted on youtube which showed the Pastor holding Enebeli who walked dragging his feet to keep up with him as they walked across the church during a service.

*Late Enebeli

The actor however disclosed after his encounter with the clergyman that he was not healed by the pastor as being reported then. It was even obvious that his condition deteriorated after the purported healing. “If he claims that he has healed me, I leave everything to God. I was in his church and he prayed for me, but my condition did not improve,” Enebeli said in May.

He was later moved to another hospital in Abuja where he received treatment until he was transferred to India on the bill of the Delta State Government. Reports had earlier indicated that he was improving until he succumbed to the pangs of death last Wednesday, marking the end of an era for a man who worked tireless to bring happiness to many homes in Africa and the world at large.

Paying tributes to the departed Actor Ibinabo Fiberesima, AGN National President,

It’s another sad moment in Actors’ Guild of Nigeria, nay Nollywood.Like AGN, Nollywood griefs, for the cold hands of death has brought tears, sorrow and  pain. Given that all living things are subject to die, as humans we find it unfathomable; a bitter pill so hard to swallow.

“His role in the popular ‘Andrew no check out” television commercial brought him to limelight in his hay days with the Nigerian Television Authority. Today, uncle Enebeli Elebuwa is no more. A man who selflessly served his beloved country, Nigeria for years, and entertained the people and fans alike has passed on, unsung.

“I have always appreciated him from afar over the years but I encountered him from close range when we operated a social media group, ‘Xplore Nollywood Assembly’.“The group was humanitarian in nature because from one Baby Daniel who was infected with cancer of the eye, to the old people’s home in Yaba, uncle Enebeli, etcetera, we made donations.“Uncle Enebeli I dare say bestrode Nollywood like the colossus he was.

He impacted positively on those who were privileged to have encountered him one way or another. He was of awesome mien; he was fatherly; he was interesting; he was professional; and most of all, he was caring.“Sadly, it has become rife that artists beg to survive. We live well.

We have all the fame. Applauded anywhere we go. So much encomiums showered on us. Then what? There isn’t much to show for that fame. From Ashley Nwosu, Sam Loco Efe,Geraldine Nwokocha, Pete Eneh, now Enebeli Elebuwa…the list is endless. “Nollywood cannot continue to go cap in hand to government at every point in time when such sad tale occurs.

Nollywood must look inwards. Nollywood should be capable of taking care of its own. If governments at all level and the citizens believe we are truly what they say we are, then they should offer, genuinely, to support the industry and the players. They should do the needful.

I am bent on carrying out a holistic health insurance/pension scheme in AGN. I am of the view that all guilds/associations in Nollywood should do same. It’s part of the welfare package we owe our members. We must give our members Hope. We must give them a reason to live.

We must keep them Alive for as long as we can. We must live well, not in poverty, not in regret.“Uncle Enebeli may have died unsung, like our unsung heroes, but we shall continue to sing his praise. We shall give him a reason to be happy, even in death and wherever he is.

“My dear uncle Enebeli, AGN, of which you were a strong vociferous voice, and heartily supportive shall miss you. Be assured that you will not be forgotten. The change you fought for shall be achieved. You shall be celebrated by the guild you so loved. You have played your part for your guild and nation…and you have been called by our Lord God who we mortals cannot question. Rest in perfect peace in the bosom of our Lord.

Nigerian Film Corporation

The Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) described Elebuwa’s death as “shocking, unfortunate and a great loss to the Nigerian motion picture industry and the Nation”

Mr. Afolabi Adesanya, NFC’s Managing Director/Chief Executive said the passing on of Elebuwa, an actor he was privileged to have worked with was equally a personal loss. The Film Industry, Adesanya further noted was indeed stricken by the death of Elebuwa who he averred, like others, was a toast to many film enthusiasts.

Adesanya, in the statement, commiserated with the deceased’s family over the loss and prayed that Almighty God will give the family the fortitude to bear his irreparable loss. He equally paid tribute to the veteran actor Pete Eneh who also died recently, saying that their contributions to the development of the Nigerian motion industry are immeasurable. “They have written their names in gold”.

The NFC, the statement added, had assisted, and followed the great struggle by Enebeli Elebuwa to regain his health, until his untimely death. He will be remembered for the enviable and impactful roles he played in the several movie titles (celluloid and Video) dating back to the seventies.

Segun Arinze, AGN immediate past president

Enebeli was “a father-figure, an uncle. He inspired a generation of Nigerian artistes. He fought gallantly and he was a great actor. We all called him Andrew but unfortunately, he has checked out.

Ejike Asiegbu, past president of AGN,

“Enebeli battled death for several years when his ailment started . Gradually, he conquered his prime enemy only for another challenge to take place. He bestroded the stage and screen like a colossus”

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