Nollywood suffers a string of deaths, including one in the United States

A man speaks and gestures while sitting in a chair, wearing sunglasses and a striped red shirt.
Saint Obi is among several Nollywood actors who recently died.
(Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP via Getty Images)
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The Nigerian film industry is in a state of shock and mourning after several Nollywood stars and a sound engineer recently died in rapid succession.

Five actors — Mukaila Adedigba (also known as Sikiru Adeshina), Obinna Nwafor (a.k.a. Saint Obi), Murphy Afolabi, Wunmi Olowokandi and Chikezie Uwazie — have died this month within less than two weeks, according to Nigeria’s Daily Post. The Nollywood sound engineer known as Techno Sound also died within that short period.

Nwafor died after a long illness on May 7 at the home of one of his siblings in Jos, Plateau State, the Daily Post reported. The actor — who starred in films such as “State of Emergency,” “Candle Light” and “Festival of Fire” — was 57.


In the early days of Nigerian cinema, directors and actors wandered cities and tribal lands shooting movies straight to VHS tapes that were sold in kiosks and bartered in villages.

March 19, 2019

The Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners’ Assn. of Nigeria (TAMPAN) on Monday announced the death of Adedigba but did not provide a cause. The Yoruba actor — who appeared in movies such as “Bolode o’ku” and “Edunjobi” — died May 13, according to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard.

Afolabi died the morning of May 14 after he slipped and fell in the bathroom at his home in Ikorodu, Lagos, according to India’s Economic Times. The Yoruba actor — known for his work in movies such as “Okiki Oru,” “Blackout” and “Four Lions” — died of his injuries at age 49.

Little is known about the death of Techno Sound. The sound technician died May 14, Vanguard reported.

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Dec. 22, 2010

The following evening, Olowokandi also reportedly died. Her age and the cause of her death are unknown. Around the same time, Uwazie died in the United States after undergoing a second brain surgery, according to the Daily Post. Uwazie appeared in films such as “Super Love,” “Tell Me Why” and “Only Love,” according to IMDb.

“These sad incidences necessitate another clarion call to all members of our association and Nigerian artists in general to pay close attention to their health,” TAMPAN president Bolaji Amusan said in a statement, according to Vanguard.

“It is also very important at this time to admonish all individuals within the creative sector in Nigeria to create time for recreation and take time off once in a while from work.”