Nigerian fans have a way of celebrating stars, showering encomium on them, hanging around to get autographs, pictures…bla bla bla…especially when the going is good. When the star’s light undergoes the “dimming process”, they immediately abandon them for those in vogue. Unfortunately, those that take the silent path for a long time (without having good investments) run into a brick wall. Then a call for help comes from the ex-stars (as people now call them) and one wonders how it all went wrong.
James Udensi Akwari Iroha (aka Gringory Akabuogu), veteran actor/comedian of “The New Masquerade fame of the 80’s” was caught in the “neglected web” spun by the spiders of glaucoma and poverty. For the new generation that don’t have a clue about the programme, it was one of the comedy programmes back then (apart from Aluwe, Koko close, Second chance, Bassi & Co) amongst others that lit our lives with laughter. The cast included Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo alias 4.30 (Chika Okpala) who stars in Kunle Afolayan’s latest movie Phone Swap, Chief Jegede Shokoya (late Claude Eke), Clarus (Davis Offor, who is presently blind), Apena (late Christy Essien Igbokwe), Gringory, (James Iroha himself), amongst others. The concept of Masquerade, which later became The New Masquerade was James idea.
He retired as the acting Director-general of the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) with the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) National Award in his kitty (which was conferred on him during the Shehu Shagari administration). Prior to his demise, Gringory was reported to have been living in abject poverty. One of the daily papers on January 21, 2012, had described him as “old, sick, poor, blind and dying gradually” based on the lowly state he revealed to them.
The veteran actor had towed the appeal line calling on the Nigerian government to come to his aid…but did they accede to his request?. Certainly not as he kicked the bucket at the age of 70 still in the same state having spent over 40 years on set as a professional. It’s a shame that the Nigerian government can allow this man who lit up our lives with smiles to wallow in penury until his death… shame on them!…what do you think?