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Mr Ibu: Tribute To The Man Who Made Nigerians Laugh
Opinion

Mr Ibu: Tribute To The Man Who Made Nigerians Laugh

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By Kayode Adebiyi, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Saturday, March 2, 2024, was a sad day for the family, friends, colleagues and fans of `Mr Ibu`, the veteran Nigerian actor whose demise was announced on that fateful day following a protracted illness.

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Announcing the death of the popular comedian, the President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Emeka Rollas, said in a social media post: “I announce with deep sense of grief that Mr Ibu didn’t make it.”

Born John Ikechukwu Okafor on Oct. 17, 1961, and hailed from Umunekwu in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, Mr Ibu took ill in October 2023.

One month later, his family confirmed that an amputation procedure had to be carried out on his legs to keep him alive.

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Okafor’s popular stage nickname, `Mr Ibu` came about when he rose to stardom in 2003 with the comic movie with the same name as its title.

More than two decades later, the man had brought so much happiness and laughter from the TV screens of many Nigerians and Africans that he was easily regarded as one of Nigeria’s most talented entertainers.

But like many of his colleagues in the entertainment industry, Mr Ibu’s road to fame was not paved with roses.

He lost his father after his primary education in 1974 and moved to Sapele (in today’s Delta State) to live with his brother, where he survived on menial jobs.

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To underscore how Mr Ibru “hustled”, he experimented with so many jobs, including being a hairstylist, trying his hands on photography, butchering, and working in factories.

Before his acting career, Mr Ibu was also a boxer, football coach, and karate practitioner

Having pulled out of the College of Education, Yola, due to paucity of funds, he later enrolled in the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu.

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In an interview, Mr Ibu said he bore the scars of the Nigerian Civil War, and in the process lost his father and several other close relatives.

He also said he inherited his comic nature from his grandfather.

Having featured in over 200 movies, music videos, comedy skits, commercial soap operas and adverts, perhaps what first endeared Mr Ibu into the hearts of his fans were those movies featuring Aki and Pawpaw.

The seemingly Siamese twins, played by Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme, had a way of matching Mr Ibu’s mischief for mischief and their combination brought so much laughter to many homes.

Many believe that the Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative, Hajia Hannatu Musawa, spoke for the vast majority of Nigerians when she said Mr Ibu made families happy.

“I’m deeply shocked at too many deaths occurring at the same time. Mr Ibu was a household name who made families happy throughout his acting career.

“His death at this time is very unfortunate and a sad one for us all in the entertainment industry. We will sorely miss him. May his soul rest in peace,” she said.

Prof. Joy Ezeilo, a law professor and former UN rapporteur, also echoed the minister’s statement when she referred to Mr Ibu as a beloved figure who brought laughter to many.

Many of his fans agree that Mr Ibu, just like other mere mortals, was not perfect, but his infectious sense of humour redefined the comedy sub-genre of the Nigerian entertainment industry during his time.

It was that humour that beamed happiness into many homes for the better part of the 62 years of his sojourn on earth.


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