The death of Nigeria’s veteran actor and comedian, Sam Loco-Efe has come as a rude shock to lovers of comedy and Nollywood mind boggling films. He is one of the most talented actors in the Nigerian Movie Industry and has for many years distinguished himself as a rare talent for both television and stage drama. He died on location while taking a break.
Sam Loco-Efe, who was on Sunday August 7, 2011 found dead in his hotel room, on Orlu Road, Owerri, capital of Imo State is reported to have been convalescing and recuperating from an undisclosed illness before the cold hands of death gripped him. He was aged 66 years.
Although the cause of death has not been disclosed, the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Jingiri Abubakar, confirmed that the famous actor had been ill for some time and had only come to the hotel to recuperate before continuing his entertainment business, before he suddenly died.
“It is true. He died in Rapour Hotel in Owerri. We are in the process of going to mortuary now. We heard he had been sick for one week and he had just been discharged. He died last night. We will give you other details latter”. The body of the deceased has been deposited at the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri.
The President, Actors guild of Nigeria (AGN), Segun Arinze and Secretary, Chuma Onwudiwe said: “Yes, it is true that Sam Loco passed away tragically in his hotel room. Today is indeed a very sad day in Nollywood. We can confirm that the great Sam Loco is dead.”
The multitalented and multilingual actor, the late Efe speaks Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa fluently even though he hails from Benin, Edo State in Nigeria’s South-South geo-political zone.
The death of Efe marks another depletion in the ranks Nollywood family. A few months ago, one the veteran actors, Ashley Nwosu, who had been ill for sometime died, and about a month ago, another legendary entertainer Christy Essien-Igbokwe died.
My Biography –By Sam Loco Efe
“I am Sam Loco from Benin in Edo State. Many people misplace my surname for a Delta man. Efe is a Benin name although the Urhobo people popularised it. Efe means Wealth in Benin as it also means in Urhobo but it means Cloth in Ibo. My surname is fully pronounced Efeeimwonkiyeke, meaning wealth has no time limit. One can be wealthy at 90 when people must have lost hope. What actually happened was that my grandmother was having only female children and after so many years, she gave birth to my father at an old age and when he arrived, the name given to him is “you see now my wealth has finally arrived.” I later inherited this from my father as I was the last of my parents’ children and the only male child.”
“I was born in Enugu, but I spent my childhood in Abakaliki and a modest attempt at becoming an actor was what triggered my passion for the stage. There was a time, Government College; Umuahia came to Abakaliki with a production. We all got so excited and I said to myself that if these men can stay on stage before a large audience and render their lines without looking into any book or script, there must be something magical about it.
“A few bold ones among us asked them some questions after the production and they said it was a matter of training and perseverance. So, when they left, I attempted a play that was larger than our collegiate level. I decided to produce William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I acted Caesar and also directed it without any formal training.”
“Going to school in the East then was tough. It was not like the Western Region where students got everything free. It was tough for us, so my nephew and I alternated street trading on a yearly basis to enable the other acquire education. But because of the staccato arrangement, I must confess that I had to attend so many primary schools.
“I was a very good footballer and so I went to almost ten secondary schools playing football and getting scholarships here and there and I was stubborn as well. As I was being admitted into one, I was being expelled from another.”
“I can say that the movie industry began with genuine theatre and movie people. As soon as things started getting better, charlatans found their ways into it. In their legion now there is a mixture of purpose, some are in Nollywood not because of the urge to be neither a Thespian nor the willingness to learn but I believe that as time goes on, we shall flush such people out. This is a house I helped to build and it would be madness for me to allow people with no history to rubbish the much that has been achieved.”
“I would not say that I am satisfied but I would rather say that I am happy with the progress made so far. Critics in Nigeria like to jump the gun. How old is Nollywood? We cannot deny that the story lines are getting better, even as we cannot deny that the performers are also helping to make things get better. However, there is a need for continued training by the stakeholders in the industry. But we shouldn’t deny that progress is been made.”