by Hauwa Gambo
You might remember him from several Nollywood movies like Glamour Girls and Sounds of Destiny, and soap operas like Checkmate, Third Eye and the ongoing Treasures where his hoarse voice and stock roles made him a favourite of producers – but now one of the NIgerian movie industry’s pioneers has suffered a stroke, and even worse than being reduced to asking for the help of his state governor, he has apparently been aband0ned, he says, by his colleagues.
The Ogwashi Uku, Delta State born actor spoke to Vanguard about his condition and excepts from the touching story are below:
Concerning his plans to reaching Delta State Government for assistance he said : “ I want to speak with the State Governor and I believe he is a wonderful man. He has a great passion for all Deltans. But I am still trying my best to see how I could reach Governor Uduaghan, which has not been possible. I believe that if I can have access to him, he will do something for me. Since this thing happened there has been no single actor that called me to ask about my condition. It is a shame on their part. Would they say they don’t know that I am sick?’
Sick Bunor also said that since his travails started last year that he hasn’t even received a common phone call from any of his former colleges not to talk of assistance.
He said that his colleagues rather prefer to hear his obituary news or any other bad news as they have started spreading rumor that he is dead.
‘I had a stroke and that was the end of it. I was unconscious, and if you are unconscious you are dead. It was when I opened my eyes that I realized that I was in a church here in Delta State. I didn’t even know when they brought me down to this place. When I open my eyes, I was so hungry. I had not eaten for a long time. All I could remember is that I was on admission for a long time before they took me to a church where God healed me.’ He said.
Continuing he added that : All I can say now is to thank God that I am alive. I have also given my life to Jesus Christ as you can see that I am now a Pastor.”
Asked to throw more light on when he was struck by the illness, he said that it would be difficult to remember as the after effect of stroke is something that makes anyone to forget his past.
“If I tell you that this was the particular day I had this stroke then I did not have stroke. Up till now, I am still trying to find out how they brought me here in Asaba. Because when you are hit with stroke you will even forget your own name. I forgot my name. In fact I never knew I still exist. Up to the time they took me to the Bible school I never knew. That is stroke for you. I pray that no man experiences it. I am happy, I’m getting better. God is in control.”
Though sidelined from the stage for the past one year, the popular actor thanked God that the stroke did not snuff life out of him.
He noted that the journey of his life in the past one-year has been an uncharted script that has taken him from the throes of death to the land of the living.
“Let me tell you the truth. After I had this stroke I did not know how I was looking. That is why I am not happy with this so-called people you call my colleagues.
He however took time to recall his journey into the arts – and movies:
Bunor who still remember how he joined the movie industry said whatever he achieved was not by any favour but through his talent.
According to him:“I didn’t study Theatre Arts. I started while looking for avenues to make little money for my school. I was paid about N10 per episode in any soap that is local production, but on network programme like Cock Crow at Dawn I got about N150 per episode, which was a big money then.
I did this continually and that was how I found myself in the industry. I didn’t actually know that it was going to be like this.
I was just doing it then to put something in my pocket. While I was in Jos, I used to go to act with the NTA Jos, between 1980-82.
I even took part in the first soap opera that went on network and also had a stint with some of the local television productions like Mirror and others.
I have equally taken part in different television soaps like Memorial Hospital, Checkmate, Sound of Destiny, Second Chance, Third Eye and several others.
So, when the home video thing came up, it was like a joke but I found myself in one of the major English video called Glamour Girls in 1994.
It is the first English movie that started off what we are doing now.
Otherwise, I would say the first movie that was produced in the industry is Living in Bondage.’ Throwing more light as to his acting prowess, he said, “I still act in soap because before I had this problem I was involved in Treasures.
But let me just say clearly that the difference is clear. When you talk about Nollywood video, you know it involves money and you know you need to live up to your billing to prove that what they are paying you is worth it.”