By IYABO AINA and RONKE ADEYERI
On Wednesday, July 6, Nollywood was thrown into mourning when the news filtered out that veteran actress and broadcaster, Ma Bukky Ajayi has passed on. It was a rude shock but not one too difficult to understand given that the legendary thespian has been battling ill-health for sometime. What will however be difficult to appreciate is the vacuum she has left behind. Because, she was undeniably one of the best and greatest talents to have ever graced the Nigerian creative arts screen.
As a Muslim, she was buried the same day she died. In fact one of our neighbours confided in Potpourri that she gave the instruction that she should be buried same day she dies. But she wasn’t born a Muslim, she converted to Islam in 1965 and adopted the name ‘Zainab’.
Since the news of her death broke, there have been nothing but ovation for the late actress. Actors Guild of Nigeria declared two-day mourning, just as her colleagues, friends, neighbours and well-wishers are full of praises for her.
How she died: Her last moments
According to Claudius Akinwade Peter-Thomas, a musician and second son of the late icon, “There aren’t enough words to quantify Mama. She was an independent woman who shouldered the responsibility of raising three lions (sons) without raising her brows. I see her as a lioness. She was also able to combine and manage her situation (single motherhood) and her career. She was a good planner.
To that effect, my elder brother is nine years older than me, and I am 11 years older than my younger brother. A good planner she was. Despite being in the public glare, she ensured her private life remained private. Many of my friends didn’t know I was the daughter of the popular actress. This is not because she wasn’t proud of her children, but because she was able to draw the line between her career and her family. People relate with me as Raz CPT and not the daughter of a celebrity, so to say. Mummy has been struggling with her health, she had cancer of the breast, diabetic and was also hypertensive.”
Kunle Fawole, popularly known as Abounce and the last child of the family spoke about her last moments. “I and mama were in the living room with some of my friends when I noticed that her heart wasn’t moving, I mean like she stopped breathing. Immediately, I checked her pulse and called my elder brothers. We felt her pulse and heartbeat, did everything possible. But alas, she has passed on. And that was at about 11:23 am on Wednesday. She was a bit ill before this happened. She had been ill for a number of years now. She had stroke some couple of years back. There was a time she also had cerebral malaria. She became diabetic, hypertensive and also suffered breast cancer before now”, he explained mournfully. Mr Alfred Oluwole Shoga was Bukky Ajayi’s first son, a 60-year old man said they were shocked but thankful they are alive to bury her and not her witnessing their deaths. “At 60, my mother still gives me money each time I visit her and I will say, `Mum I’m suppose to give you money’ and she will say I should use it for transportation” he said, speaking as if she were still alive.