Shocks, thrills that defined Nigeria`s entertainment industry in 2023

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By Joshua Olomu

For industry watchers and players, 2023 was an intriguing year for Nigerian entertainment industry as the year was characterized by scintillating incidences and some unpleasant occurrences, especially in the music and the film industries.

A retrospective look at the year highlights both shocking and thrilling moments that defined both the music and motion pictures genres of the entertainment industry:

Demise of Artistes

The year started with the shocking news of the death of Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, the National President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), on Jan. 10, 2023 in Lagos.

Anyiam-Osigwe, popularly called “the Queen of Nollywood Films”, was the founder of globally acclaimed film award ceremony, Africa Movie Academy Awards. (AMAA).

Also, Veteran actor, Sunday Akanbi Akinola,  died on Jan. 9, 2023  at the age of 80.

He became popular for his role as “Mogaji “ in the series “ Feyikogbon” which aired on NTA channel 7 in the southwestern Nigeria in the 1980s.

Ace actor, Femi Ogunrombi, who played the role of Papa Ajasco in Wale Adenuga’s comedy series, died on Jan. 14, 2023.

Ogunrombi character in the TV comedy series was known for his portly belly and hitting his head while saying “Ojigbigbigbi.”

On Feb. 5, 2023, Nigerian comedian and actress, Favour Daniels, who gained popularity through her skits on social media, reportedly died in a fatal boat accident aged 26.

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Another sad news that hit the industry was the death of veteran Nollywood actor, Ojo Arowosafe, popularly known as Fadeyi Oloro, on March 7, 2023 at the age of 66, after a protracted illness.

The death of Nollywood foremost superstar Obinna Nwafor, “Saint Obi“, was another sad incidence that shocked the industry in 2023.

The ace thespian died on May 7, at the age of 57, after battling with an undisclosed ailment, and was buried on Aug. 18, at his hometown, Alaenyi Ogwa, Imo State.

Popular Yoruba actor and filmmaker, Murphy Afolabi, passed on May 14, 2023, some days after celebrating his 49th birthday.

Murphy, who began acting at a young age, came to stardom with his role  in the movie ‘Omo Rapala.’

Also, ace Nollywood actor Chikezie Uwazie was also reported dead on May 14, 2023, after undergoing brain surgery in the U.S.

Legendary pop singer, Chris Mba, died on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.

The musician, who was famous in the 1980s for his jerry curl and hits like ‘Funky Situation’, ‘Baby Don’t Cry’, ‘Making My Way’ and ‘Love Everlasting’, died at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Popular Nollywood actor, Afeez Agoro , widely regarded as the tallest man in Nigeria (7ft 4in), passed on June 15 after a prolonged illness.

The intimidating height of the actor, who  featured in many movies, attracted stares wherever he went.

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The death of fast-rising Nigerian singer, Ilerioluwa Aloba, aka Mohbad, on Sept. 12, 2023, was another shocking new for the industry.

The artiste died at the age of 27 under questionable circumstances, with videos of the singer being bullied and assaulted resurfacing after his demise which sparked protests in Lagos  State with the hashtag “Justice for Mohbad”.

He was known for his hit songs ‘Feel Good’, ‘Peace’,  ‘Ponmo’, ‘Beast and Peace’, ‘Sorry’, ‘Ko Por Ke’, among others.

Nollywood  actor  Oluyemi  Adeyemi, popularly known as ‘Suara’, who rose to fame with his role in the 2001 Wale Adenuga hit series, ‘Super Story,’also died on Sept. 24, 2023.

Grammy  Awards

But is was not only deaths that the industry recorded as Nigerian singer Temilade Openiyi, aka Tems, became  the first female Nigerian artiste to win a Grammy Award as she won  the ‘Best Melodic Rap Performance’ category at the 2023 Grammy awards which  took place on February 5.

Tems won her first Grammy award for her part on Future’s hit single ‘Wait For U’ the 2022 hit song by Future, featuring Drake.

Nigerian music superstars, Davido, Burna Boy, Ayra Starr, Asake and Olamide  have received nominations  for the  2024 Grammy Awards scheduled to hold on  Feb. 4, 2024 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, United States.

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Ailing Nollywood actors

In the 2023, there were reports of  seasoned Nollywood grappling with critical health conditions, with some opting to solicit for financial help from their fans and well-meaning Nigerians.

These actors, who have thrilled Nigerians with their acting skills over the years, are now turning to  fans and well-wishers for support as they face life-threatening  health challenges.

The shocking news of   the ailment of comic actor John Okafor, popularly as Mr Ibu, came to the public when he shared a video soliciting for fund and prayer from Nigerians over his health.

According to confirmed reports the actor has undergone seven surgeries but to keep him alive, one of his legs has been amputated and currently recuperating.

Also, veteran Nollywood actor Amaechi Muonagor  in December made a heartfelt plea for support over  health challenges.

The 61-year-old actor disclosed that he is contending with paralysis, which has significantly affected his left leg and left hand.

Another thespian, Ifeanyi Ezeokeke, recognised for his role as ‘Ugo Shave Me’ in Nollywood, has turned to social media to request financial help because of an undisclosed illness that has afflicted him for over two years.

As 2024 evolves stakeholders and waters of developments in the industry are hoping for more positives than negatives.

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