President Goodluck Jonathan, Monday, extended his condolences to the family of renowned stage and screen actor, Sam Loco Efe, who passed away yesterday.
In a condolence message signed by the presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, the president joins millions of Nigerians who have received immense entertainment, joy, and edification from Mr Efe’s performances over the past five decades.
The president also said he believes Mr Efe’s professional accomplishments helped to raise the profile of the Nigerian actor on the contemporary stage. He urged members of the late actor’s family, his fans across Nigeria, members of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, and the entire Nollywood family, to take solace in the knowledge that he was a most accomplished artiste.
Popular comedian, Chika Okpala (Zebrudaya), described the death of Mr Efe as a great loss to the Nollywood industry and Nigeria in general. He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday that he received the news of Efe’s death with great shock and surprise.
Mr Okpala, one of the actors in New Masquerade television soap opera, said, “I was transfixed to the ground for about 10 minutes speechless when I got the message. I am confused because I did not hear that he was sick, only to suddenly get a call that he is dead,” he said.
“The Nollywood industry has lost a veteran with many years of experience. He was like a father to me because I learnt much from him,” Mr Okpala added.
He urged Nigerians to always be close to God “because nobody knows when death will come. Nigerians should be in peace with their neighbours, friends, and everyone else so that when death comes, no one will speak bad of you,” he said.
Mr Efe, a veteran stage and film artiste, died on Sunday in his hotel room in Owerri at the age of 71 years.
The Imo State commissioner of police, Muhammed Abubakar, who confirmed Efe’s death, said that he had been ill before, treated, and discharged from a hospital in the state capital. He said that the actor had been on bed rest for some weeks in Owerri, in adherence to the doctor’s instruction.
Mr Abubakar added that when the state police command got the report on Sunday, some policemen were sent to the hotel and they confirmed him dead and removed the body to a private hospital.
Steve Ogundele, secretary of the Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), described it as sad news. He eulogised Efe’s artistic prowess and described him as a multi-linguist whose artistic creativity cuts across all genre, both in the commercial and academic society.
Life of acting
Efe played the role of young Akara Ogun in the premier of the 2nd Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos in 1977 and in Nigeria’s entry play ‘Lamgbodo’ written by Wale Ogunyemi and directed by Dapo Adelugba at the festival.
“‘Uncle Sam’, as he was fondly called, will be remembered for his unique natural comic role interpretations in stage and movie productions,” Ozi Okoli, national director of publicity, NANTAP, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.
Reacting also, Duro Oni, the dean, faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, described Efe’s death as a big loss to the arts sector. He said Efe was one of the country’s best and committed actors.
Sam Loco Efe was one of the most talented actors in the Nigerian movie industry. For many years, he distinguished himself as a rare talent for both television and stage drama. Born in Enugu, Efe was from Benin where his name, Efeeimwonkiyeke, means wealth has no time limit.
In his lifetime, he said ‘Langbodo’ was his first truly well paid job. He said being a national production, he was well paid and treated like an egg because he played the lead role.
Educated at the University of Ibadan, Efe formed the Overamwem National Theatre Group which won laurels on stage plays in 1969.
In his young days, he worked for Michelin Tyre Company in Ijora, Lagos, and also for Dunlop, a rival group after he left Michelin.