Nollywood celebrates late Justus Esiri

IT was a nostalgic night, as filmmakers, on Monday, converged at O’jez Arena, National Stadium, to pour encomia on late actor Justus Esiri who died on February 19, 2013.

Put together by Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), the thespians, most of whom were clad in white attires, stormed the venue in great numbers, rendering songs, comedy and emotional speeches in memory of the late actor, whom many referred to as a mentor.

Late Esiri, of the ‘Village Headmaster’ drama fame, died of Type 2 Diabetes, at the age of 71. The night of tributes by his colleagues was a complementary ceremony to the burial rites in Oria-Abraka, Delta State.

Dr SID- The deceased’s son, Sidney, a singer, who was dressed in a gray colour shirt upon a black pant, described his father as a man who was very humane, but thorough as a professional: “I remember my father use to say to me that if you do not want to be forgotten after you passed on from this earth, it is either you do something worth writing about or you write something worth reading. I believe my father did just that. From now to the end of the world, my father will forever be remembered for his contribution to Nollywood.” Popularly called Dr. SID, the young Esiri took the opportunity to avail the gathering of the burial arrangement.

Fidelis Duker: Director of Abuja Film Festival was among the people that paid tributes and described himself as one of the numerous beneficiaries of the late actor’s benevolence.

Kanayo O Kanayo: He spoke about the professional attributes of the late thespian. He noted that Esiri, during his life time, never forgot his lines as an actor. “There were just two actors that I know in this industry who did not only master their lines on set, but who also mastered the lines of others playing along with them. They would correct you, when you make mistakes delivering your lines. These two actors are late. They are Justus Esiri and Sam Loco Efe.” The crowd cheered.

Kate Henshaw: The delectable actress, who joined actor and Fountain of Life Church praise leader, Arinze Okonkwo, and fellow actress Chioma Chukwuka on stage to render a heartfelt praise and worship to God for the life of the late actor, was of the opinion that he should be celebrated and not mourned. “Let us not be ungrateful to God. Uncle Justus lived a full life. His children are here. They are all successful in their various fields of endeavour. What we should be doing is to be praying to God that our lives should not be cut short,” she said.

Tunji Bamishigbin: The actor cum lawyer who trained under the late Esiri said he met him in 1976. “I met Uncle Justus 37 years ago. He was my trainer. Not many knew that his wife used to be an actress. She was part of our crew. I left for school. I went to study theatre arts. When I came back I joined NTA; there I met Uncle Justus again. He was a wonderful man that encouraged young ones. When I wanted to go and study Law, so many people around me discouraged me. It was Uncle Justus who called me and advised me to go ahead. Two or three years ago, I was privileged to take him to Afro Hollywood Award in London. While we were there, I served him. People around started to wonder what was happening. To be a star is an opportunity. It is not a big deal. It is important to be humble. Uncle Justus was an epitome of humility.”

Ali Mamood Balogun: According to the filmmaker, the late actor died a fulfilled man. “I want to thank God for him. He lived a fulfilled life. He was what he wanted to be. Like I always say, he is a quintessential performer both on screen and on the stage. He lent credence to our profession in terms of professionalism, integrity and commitment. And he did a lot to ensure that there is respect for the industry. He was our president in concept of Motion Picture Practitioners of Nigeria (CMPP). And he led my example.

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