By Ayo Alonge
The death of veteran actor, Olumide Bakare, in the early hours of Saturday has sent shock waves through the Yoruba sector of the Nigerian film industry.
Bakare, who rose to fame when he played the role of Chief Koko in the now rested television series, Koko Close in the ‘90s, had been critically ill for some time. He was earlier admitted into the Intensive Care Unit of the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Oyo State after he was diagnosed of heart and lung related diseases.
His health condition was said to have worsened in the middle of the night and he was rushed to the UCH by his personal assistant. He however gave up the ghost before arriving at the hospital.
While officially announcing the death of the actor yesterday, ace actor and president, Theatre Arts & Movie Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) , Mr. Dele Odule, said Bakare died at the age of 64.
“I officially announce the death of one of us, a veteran actor, Olumide Bakare (Chief Koko). He slept yesterday at the age of 64. You’ll be posted with other arrangements,” he stated.
The 64-year-old entertainer had come out in 2016 soliciting financial support from well-meaning Nigerians to help foot the bill of his close to N30,000 daily treatment. He was reported to have said that the ailment started in 2013. He is survived by four children – Olabode, a pastor in the United States; Oluwamayowa, a businessman in Lagos; Oluwatofunmi, a graduate of Ekiti State University and Halimat, the last of them. Meanwhile artistes are mourning the dead actor.
Renowned musician, Tee Mac Omatshola Iseli expressed shock at the death of Bakare, saying he was not aware that the deceased suffered heart/lungs-related disease for long before his death.
“This is quite shocking to me as I never knew he was ill; I don’t have a personal relationship with him but we met at different gatherings during his life time. “He took acting seriously while alive; and had left a good legacy and a good name which is better than fortune,” he said.
Miss Ayo Orobiyi, popularly called Adunni Nefretitti, said that the veteran actor was an energetic actor, adding that she used to admire his baritone voice. “It is unfortunate that nobody came to his rescue when he needed financial assistance. I wish him a peaceful rest and I condole with the family the deceased left behind also.
“This is a great loss and I pray God will grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,” the folk singer said.
Mr. Kehinde Oluwafunsho, the Nigeria representative of The Pan African Historical Theatre Project (PANAFEST) said that the actor was very versatile, having featured in both Yoruba and English movies.
He said Bakare was a successful man who achieved greatly in Nollywood. “He was a great veteran and good actor; born to do what he did on stage, no stress to get us arrested by his good acting. “His voice would thunder; his big, wealthy-man posture was without equal in the industry.
“It will be very difficult to replace this great man, may his soul rest in peace,” he said.
Fred Amata, President, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria (DGN), said that death would obliterate his legacy on the minds of people. “It is sad that we have lost one of our veteran actors in the entertainment industry but we must give glory to God for He is the giver and taker of life.
“Although Bakare is dead, he will continue to live on through his works and contributions to Nollywood, in the minds of his fans and friends,’’ he said.
Amata condoled with the family of the deceased and prayed that God would grant them the fortitude to bear the loss. Emeka Ibeh, President, Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), said, “I really do not know the deceased in person but from his works and contributions to the development of Nollywood, he would be greatly missed by his fans. “I pray that God grants his family members the strength to bear the loss, at a time like this,” he said.
Ibeh urged thespians in the country to continue to impact positively in the entertainment industry, saying that their good works would definitely outlive them.
Afeez Oyetoro, a Nigerian comic actor popularly known as ‘Saka’, said that Bakare’s death came as a shock to him, although he was aware that the deceased was very sick.
Saka said that Bakare would be greatly missed in the entertainment industry and prayed for the family to have the strength to bear the loss.