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Friday, January 11, 2013

Stephanie Okereke Burst Into Prayers At Funeral



It is common for people to shower encomiums on the dead at funerals, but at the artistes’ night held to celebrate the life and times of the late Nollywood actor, Enebeli Elebuwa, it was much more than praising the dead.
The emotion-laden ceremony was held at Ojez, National Stadium, Lagos on Wednesday, led by the president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesima.
In her opening address, Fiberesima, dressed in a white T-shirt with the inscription ‘Adieu…Andrew don check out’, said Enebeli lived an exemplary life and charged other Nollywood actors and actresses to pay more attention to their health.
According to her, the death episode in the industry has become a source of concern. Fiberesima stated, “I don’t want to celebrate death again. AGN, we need to take care of our health. I want to attend weddings birthdays and child naming ceremonies.”
She also encouraged the thespians to take advantage of the newly-introduced health scheme designed to assist those with medical challenges.
“We can’t keep watching and when something happens we run to the government. They also have their problems, we need to take care of our own,” she said.
The event was anchored by comic actor, Okey McAnthony, who disclosed that he met Elebuwa on the set of his first movie, Journey to Hell.
Several of the actors who came out in their hundreds to celebrate the deceased spoke glowingly of him. Actor and Commissioner for Culture and Tourism  in Delta State, Richard Mofe-Damijo, said artistes should use Elebuwa’s life as a yardstick to live their lives in better ways.
He said, “Two days before Enebeli died, he called me and said, ‘If I knew what I know now I would have lived differently.’  We need to live our lives well, I wished he had stayed longer but for those of us still living, we should value our lives and don’t delay what we should do today till tomorrow.”
Some of Elebuwa’s contemporaries also spoke about the times they spent with the late actor, describing him as humble and hardworking. Singing ‘Has anybody seen my friend Enebeli’ in a loud voice, Justus Esiri paid his tribute to the departed.
Esiri disclosed that he met Elebuwa in 1978 when he was working on the rested television drama series,Dinner with the Devil.
“So many of you do not know that Enebeli was a set designer and graphic artist,” he said. “I was using a warehouse to shoot the movie at the time but I later found a studio, which Enebeli helped to design. We are all here because we love him and no matter where he is, his soul will rest in peace.”
Veteran actor, Dejumo Lewis, also described as ironic, the fact that he was standing before the crowd to pay tribute to Elebuwa, whom he said passed on at an early age.
“I say this because I had the privilege to work with him on the set of the New Village Headmaster and he had a profound philosophical view about life and hereafter. He’s a man I have great respect for and I am so sad that he passed on at this early age,” he said.
Others who also paid tributes to Elebuwa include movie producer, Mahmood Ali-Balogun; Charles Okafor; Segun Arinze; Zik Zulu Okafor; Zack Orji; Fidelis Duker and Stephanie Okereke-Linus – who was jokingly asked to speak on behalf of the league of Nollywood big girls.
Stephanie surprised the audience when she went on her knees in tears, praying against forces militating against Nollywood. Her prayers brought tears to many eyes. She noted that Elebuwa’s death calls for individual reflections in the industry.
“We keep working, chasing money but I think it is time for us to pause and reflect on ourselves,” she stated.
The high point of the event was the candlelight procession, led by Fiberesima, with Julius Agwu and Charles Inojie singing to the rhythm of the live band. The procession went round the quadrangle where the event held and ended before the stage where all the lit candles – placed round Fiberesima’s mammoth-sized stick – were left to burn out.
Prayers were said for the dead and members of his family. A service of songs was also  billed to hold for Elebuwa at the premises of NTA Channel 10, Lagos on Thursday. His remains will be buried at Victoria Courts Cemetary, Ajah today (Friday) after a requiem service at St Micheals, Lafiaji, Lagos.
Enebeli died December 5, 2012, in an Indian hospital after a prolonged battle with stroke. He was 66-years old.

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