By Tony Ogaga
Veteran filmmaker, Eddie Ugboma breathed his last on the morning of Saturday, May 11, 2019, after battling a chronic illness for over two years.
In this chat, Ugboma’s daughter, Mrs. Amaechi Ogunnubi opens up on the legend’s last moments including his legacy.
What was your first reaction when you heard that your father was dead?
I was shocked. His death came to me as a big surprise. I was with him all the way including when he took his last breath. It was a very trying and painful moment for me.
What were his last words?
He just kept on saying ‘stay around me, take care of me, you shouldn’t be far from me’. I was with him all through the period of his illness. I never expected he was going to pass away so soon. He actually ate that morning before we left for the hospital.
What kind of a father was he and what was his greatest advice to you?
He was a great father, a loving father who loved his children and everyone around him. He was always telling me to be strong and courageous. He said that I should learn to trust God more than man. He was the best dad ever!
Could you share some fond memories you had with him?
While growing up, daddy always told us stories at night and shared with us part of his experiences about life. He also gave us the opportunity to tell our own stories. He loved taking us to the beach on weekends. Sometimes, we had dancing competitions and the winner was entitled to a gift from him. Sometimes, he took us to work with him at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
Is any of his children taking after him?
Yes, we have talented artistes among his children. Two of my younger ones studied Theatre Arts and they have been working both as actor and costumier. Also, most of the films my father produced later on in life featured some of us, his children.
Eddie Ugboma was arguably the only African to have shot 13 celluloid films. Any plan to preserve his legacy?
I expect that governments both at his native Delta State and at the federal level immortalise him by recognising his contributions, not just as a filmmaker but also as a former chairman of Nigerian Film Corporation. This is the time to help the family give him a befitting burial. This is the time to assist the family complete the Hall of Fame project, which he had been soliciting for funds to complete. Daddy sold almost everything he had to work on that project. So, if they assist in completing the project and even name it after him, I am sure he will smile wherever he is. But most importantly, he was working on digitalising the over 14 celluloid films he produced so they can be available to all, but funds stalled that dream. So, government assistance will go a long way. Thank God that, before his death, he already put us through with some of his works; and as a family, we will preserve his works for future generation and for the purpose of research. He had an intimidating archive as far as the entertainment industry was concerned. Of course, we will continue, but like I noted earlier, we will need the support of government, the private sector and well meaning Nigerians to continue with that and other projects, because they are capital intensive.
Before my daddy passed on, he practically went cap in hand, asking for funds for the project because the project was so dear to him. Help came from some individuals like Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, but like daddy told us, they were not enough to even make the portraits not to talk of the structure that will house the portraits. His idea was to have life-size portraits of all those that had been inducted with a brief (write-up) on them. It would have been the first of its kind in the country. So, we will need support to continue. It is something the family wants to complete in his honour.