Nigerian Entertainment – A Mountain, rising from The Valley of Grief
It does seem being famous comes along with its own taint of misfortune. Fathers shoot sons, molested children-grow up to be men and women, bearing scars of the wretched memories of being touched inappropriately, or treated horribly in some cases, by people whose blood they share. Various interviews with these socially stratified elite have revealed that a huge chunk of those who are celebrated-these celebrities-as we call them, have sordid stories they- some-albeit reluctantly share.
On the international scene, the exit of celebrities after a rise to fame has been the shocking reminder of the mortality of these seemingly ephemeral on screen beings. In Africa and around the world, the planet of the artistically rich and famous is coloured by deep sated tragedy lurking in the shadows of their past. For some, they still struggle with these tragedies in their present realities and for those who are post humus-these tragedies are made clear by their exit. Anyone who says that celebrities have it all is living in a huge bubble.
As someone who used to be in that bubble, looking at the world of entertainment through specially ordered rose coloured glasses of glitz, glamour and razzmatazz, I have every reason to sigh. Sitting in this apartment, typing furiously, I detect this moody article is borne out of listening to Nigerian-Phyno’s “Good Die Young” for almost 8 hours straight. While listening to said album, it occurred to me that a host of young people have exited the Nigerian entertainment scene in the last couple of years with an amazing speed that almost likens the speed with which they entered it. These talented young Nigerians, who bring a breath of fresh air into the entertainment sphere, are all of a sudden, without any warnings whatsoever, cut off. In most cases, these young people do not even live long enough to savour their success and are celebrated with the loudest ovations after the close of final curtain. From comedy to music to film, all spheres of the entertainment backdrop have suffered their own share of tragedy. Could it be that these talented individuals have to live with their own demons? Does it in a way make them better at their talent? Do their deaths have a purpose? This tragedy that they live with, does it define them? Make them better at their art? Leave us with fonder memories of them? Do we have cause to celebrate that they lived and shared their talent with us-mere mortals with little or no talent to speak of. Not everyone gets to step into the light. These beings have stepped into the light-shared with us the aura of that light and are gone.
Exits I recall are like those of John Chijioke- stage named CD John, a talented individual, who stepped into comedy and took it by storm. I must admit, I saw just one video of him. That video cracked me up so bad – ingenious. No sooner had I seen his video, did reports of him being dead fill the internet. CD John stepped by the tips of his toes into the pool of success and was swallowed by the shards of metal that ended his brief and speedy rise to limelight. There was also the brief musical sojourn of Oladapo Olaitan Olanipekun, popularly known as “Dagrin”. The rap head who made a huge number of non-Yoruba speaking Nigerians begin a brief romance with the complicated language, swirling it around their tongues like gin and screaming out catch phrases like they made them up themselves.
Obiajaru Nwozo-Mc Loph who made Nigerians enjoy a remake of the classic Osondi Owendu- left before anyone expected it. There was also the exit of Olaniyan Damilola, who called himself Damino Damoche- he had not gotten to a place of real fame yet and still. Olufemi Mayomi-known better as Father U-Turn, also made an exit at a really young age. Golden haired Susan Oluwabimpe “Goldie” Harvey, who after gaining even more fame by going on the reality show-“Big Brother”, also left abruptly. Papa Fatai Rolling Dollar-who came back for a taste of the limelight after a period of laying low, though he was advanced in years, people had only just begun to get used to the fact that he was back, then he left-for good. There have been deaths in film. With older players, younger players, all gone. Men like Justus Esiri, Ashley Nwosu, names that built the film industry, as we know it. Suddenly, they cease to exist and the solitary word-bereft- leaving, past tense- already gone.
Then recently there was the exit of 28 year old musician, Zara Gretti, who, though almost at the edge of fame left the world after a painful journey-which was chronicled on social media-with multiple sclerosis. The backdrop of entertainment is seemingly stained by such heartache; it leaves you wondering if the misery is not part of the package. We could not have had the pleasure without taking a sip of the pain; the stain seems to be a total compendium along with the fame. What seems obvious is that tragedy- that deep clawing sadness that makes a singer’s eyes more soulful, and the artist’s heart more poignant is a needed ingredient for some higher purpose. Understanding that purpose however- is a journey we undertake together.