By BENJAMIN NJOKU
When he initially heard of his death, he expressed shock , reservation and disbelief, claiming that he had not been informed. But on the following day, while the news of his death made headlines in national dailies, he fell on his face, and cried uncontrollably like a baby.
Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo alias 4.30(Chika Okpala) was a former colleague of Giringori Akabogu who died last Tuesday at a hospital in Onitsha, Anambra State where he was being treated for Glaucoma.
He was one of the main characters of the now rested New Masquerade, an iconic soap opera which was created by the legendary actor and which ruled the screen in the early 80s, on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Network.
Giringori’s sudden exit indeed increased the number of members of New Masquerade cast who have since passed on to three. They were Christy Essien-Igbokwe (Apena) and Claude Ake (Jegede Sokoya).
Overwhelmed by emotion, Zebrudaya has described the Giringori as “ingenious actor and producer who contributed in no small measure to the growth of the entertainment industry in the country.”
According to him, Giringori would be remembered for creating the most popular soap opera in the country. He would also be remembered for his humorous acts.
“I was flabbergasted and confused. I didn’t know what to say when I heard of his death. Giringori was a good artiste on stage. He was also my master and a good colleague of mine back in the days of the New Masquerade.”
“Giringori was the creator of the iconic soap, while I was the one who over blew the trumpet. People believed that I was the creator of the soap opera. No, I didn’t create it, but Giringori did. He only brought me into the production.
He was like a master to me; he created the “New Masquerade’’ and invited me. I had a good relationship with him and I learnt much from him in the New Masquerade.” Okpala said it would be very difficult to fill the vacuum Iroha’s death had created since nobody would act exactly like him.
“It will be hard to get somebody who will act exactly like him. “I advise upcoming actors to emulate the late Iroha, especially his dedication to the entertainment industry and good relationship with others. May God grant his soul eternal rest.’’
Okpala urged actors and actresses to be upright as well and maintain good relationship with one another. “We should be upright in very thing we do, as no one knows tomorrow. “I urge Nollywood members to have a good relationship with one another so that good things will be said of them when death comes.”
How I met with him
On how destiny bought them together, Zebrudaya, who is based in Enugu said, he met the departed actor in 1972, while they were rehearsing a play “Souls and Daughters”, which was staged at an amphi-theatre, located in Enugu.
Narrating he said “I met him in 1972, at a rehearsal of the play, “Souls and Daughters”, which was staged at an amphi-theatre, in Enugu. Later, we moved on to ESBS studio. After the production, he was convinced that I was a good artiste and decided to invite me to be part of the production of the New Masquerade.
Then, I tried to understudy him. He chose to play the role of Giringori while I accepted to act Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo alias 4:30 that was what happened.
What he would be remembered for
He would be remembered for his creativity and humorous acts. He was a genius on stage as well as a good writer. He will also be remembered for creating the most humorous soap opera in the country.
On the exit of members of the cast of New Masquerade
Who are we to question the decision of God? May be, they have done very well in life that God is calling them to his glory. In life, you either choose to be a poor man or a rich man. But Iroha from the outset chose to be a poor man, that was why he played the role of Giringori.
Welfare of Nigerian artistes
Artistes all over the country are not well treated by the government. We are not just actors, we can do other things if we are properly engaged by the government.
On burial arrangements
Giringori lost his wife some years ago. And his children are not together at the moment. I have been wanting to get in touch with them perhaps, to know how they are planning for his funeral rites, but as I’m talking to you now, I have not been able to reach anyone of them.
Befitting rites of passage
We are not going to ask anybody to be part of the rites of passage of my former colleague. If the government feel that it is important to give Giringori a befitting burial, all well and good. After all, the governors of Anambra State and Akwa-Ibom were involved during the burial rites of Christy Essein -Igbokwe. Also, the governors of Edo State and Enugu State participated in the burial ceremony of the late Sam Loco-Efe. Giringori’s case will not be different.