By Isaac Asabor
Ordinarily, when an open letter, such as this, is sent to anyone, it is often expected that it will be received and acknowledged. Sadly, the person I am sending this letter to will never give a reply to it, like he would have done just 2 days ago as his wife said he slumped on Tuesday, January 27, 2020, evening and never woke up.
However, I must confess that I was inspired to write this letter on the strength of my belief in African mythology. You may have wondered and asked, “Are you no more a Christian?” Of course, I am. However, an Edo proverb says “Though the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up”.
African mythology has it that in its traditional religion that life does not end with death, but continues in another realm. In fact, the concepts of “life” and “death” are not mutually exclusive concepts, and there are no clear dividing lines between them. Human existence is a dynamic process involving the increase or decrease of “power” or “life force,” of “living” and “dying,” and there are different levels of life and death. Death does not alter or end the life or the personality of an individual, but only causes a change in its conditions. This is expressed in the concept of “ancestors,” people who have died but who continue to live in the minds of people in the community as they were often remembered for the good things they deed before their departure to the great beyond.
Against the foregoing backdrop, I am sending this letter, to bemoan the deepening collective attitude of actors and actresses in the Nigerian Nollywood segment of the entertainment industry towards their needy colleagues who, more often than not, cry for help to no avail, even when social media platforms usually portray them to be in the position of being their brother’s keepers.
Dear Earnest Asuzu, it’s me, Isaac Asabor. We may not have met in the land of the living during your seemingly brief earthly sojourn. You died just at 37. However, through numerous Nollywood films that you featured in, particularly when I was living at Lawanson part of Lagos as a bachelor, I became one of your died-in-the-wool fans. To aptly put it, virtually every film you featured in served as catharsis to me.
I can also recall that I sighted you on two occasions around Winnis Hotel in Surulere. However, due to the social class chasm that existed between us at the time it was impossible for me to socialize with you but I only admirably watched you from a distance, and wished that you just acknowledged my stare as that would have being enough for me to feel a sense of recognition. I still wished I could meet you someday until you finally passed on yesterday.
I must confess that my fascination for your artistry in the Nollywood was unarguably for playing criminal, villain, actions and hit-man roles in movies alongside Hanks Anuku, Jim Iyke, Emma Ehumadu and Alaso Wariboko. Again, I have watched a great number of films you acted in that cut across Royal War, Ogidan, Burning Desire, Never End, Broad Daylight, Last Wedding, Living Abroad, Power of Trust, My Guy and Accidental Discharge.
El Cream, as you were popularly known and fondly called, not few Nigerians believe that you were not philanthropically supported enough when you were battling with the stroke you were afflicted with in 2015 which affected your speech, and also rendered you bedridden for three years. The allegation that you were not well supported by your colleagues became more explanatory when some online gossip mill virally reported that you were sighted begging for alms at a popular supermarket in Lagos. Unfortunately, the gossip did not in any way move your fans to look down on you as it was very obvious that you were off the screen for many years, and for that reason food was for many years proverbially taken from your mouth.
Just few hours after your death, evidences started emerging that truly you were not cared for by Nigerians, especially your professional colleagues. They were never there for you.
According to Vanguard newspaper online edition of January 27, 2021, in a features article done in your honour with the headline, “Fans fault Nollywood stakeholders over Ernest Asuzu’s death”, it was clear that helping hands were not truly extended to you when you were in dire need. The newspaper reported that “Fans of popular actor, Ernest Asuzu, on Wednesday, took to social media to slam practitioners in the Nigerian movie industry and particularly, the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, following the sudden death of the actor. Asuzu succumbed to death on Tuesday after many years of battling depression and stroke”.
Without over flogging the issue, it suffices to say that nobody was there for you. Thankfully enough, you knew Christ under the tutelage of Prophet Jeremiah Omoto Fufeyin, the founder and head prophet of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministry, Warri, Delta State, Nigeria. While using this medium to call on Nigerians to help your wife in raising the two children you left behind, I believe you will rest in the bossom of the Lord. Good night!