by Ada Igboanugo
He was known for the comedic roles he played in movies, stage plays and TV shows. A movie never passed by without his putting a smile on the the face of his viewers with his explicitly raw talent and jovial charisma.
Despite his charm, Sam Loco Efe (Efeeimwonkiyeke) lived a rather ghoulish life. The veteran, who died at the age of 66, spent 44years of his life hooked on alcohol and cigarettes. Speculations as to if these played a major role in his death linger, as he was reported to have been ill for weeks before his death.
Sam Loco, who hails from Benin in Edo State was born in Enugu, but spent his childhood in Abakaliki. This was where he gained the ability to speak the Igbo fluently, and he was many times mistaken for an indigene. He graduated with honors in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan where he bagged his first degree. He once got married to a woman who would later die in the United States, and is survived by children he had by other women after the death of his first wife.
Sam Loco Efe was one of the most talented actors of contemporary Nigerian theatre and television. For many years, he distinguished himself as a rare talent in comedy, television and stage drama. His role in the Festac ’77 and age old long play, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe earned him his first ever recognition. His first foray into limelight was when he was voted best actor for his role in “Langbodo”, Nigeria’s only drama entry for FESTAC ‘77 directed by Dapo Adelugba, and his first appearance on TV, in the 1970s television series, Hotel De Jordan, took him to the top.
Five decades after, his enthralling performances did not falter. His movies numbered to hundreds and his motivation to inspire touched millions.
His many works include Picadilly Circus, Sergeant Okoro and Ukwa to name a few.
It is said that no one lives forever, but their legacy does and this is of paramount importance. The likes of Fela!, Oliver de Couque and Christy Igbokwe, though in a very much different industry are known to have left their legacies behind, and though he met his demise early, Sam Loco Efe joined the club of rare entertainers who inspired actors, actresses and comedians. Sam Loco held the post of National Chairman Caretaker Committee, as well as chairman, board of veterans of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN). In 1996, Loco won three awards in the THEMA edition.
His death was described as “A great loss to the state and the nation’s movie industry.” Nollywood will definitely miss an icon. His presence in the movie industry was very valuable and couldn’t be likened to any other. In his time on earth he paved the way for current successful actors and actresses such as Genevieve Nnaji, who looked up to him as her father In the movie industry and Nse Ekpe-Etim whom he was a mentor to. His charm didn’t only lie in that industry, though. He further touched lives in the music industry as well, as he was once known to be a singer who inspired various indigenous artistes.
He is gone but he will forever remain in our hearts and on our screens and his story will be told across generations.