The death of Amaka Igwe, an iconic movie producer and director at 51, throws many Nigerians from all walks of life into a state of shock, sadness and disbelief
| By Olu Ojewale | May 12, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
SHE was by every standard a colossus in the entertainment industry. For many years that she held sway, Amaka Igwe, acclaimed movie producer and director, was a household name. Little wonder that when Igwe died of asthma attack on Monday night, April 28, Nigerians from different walks of life were shocked and saddened. On Tuesday, some Nigerian airways could not resist paying tribute to someone who had done so much for the entertainment industry. Olaitan Bakare, a radio presenter, said her death simply made her sad. “I could not just believe it; last time I saw her on the television she was full of life” she said on air. Igwe, who died in Udi, her country home in Enugu State, is admired by everyone for her prolific, classic works and craft.
Similarly some Nigerians have expressed shock and sadness at the passing away of the iconic producer. Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State said in a statement by Chukwudi Achife, his chief press secretary, described the late filmmaker as an icon and a pacesetter in the movie industry, whose pioneering works have inspired many and brought glory to the nation. The governor said: “Her death at the age of 51 will leave a huge vacuum in the industry, where she had excelled with uncommon vigour, creativity and diligence.” Chime sent his condolence to the bereaved family and the entertainment community, urging them to take solace in her legacy.
Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday, April 29, described Igwe as “a jewel of the Nollywood industry.” In a statement by his media officer in Abuja, Abubakar, who expressed shock at the demise of Igwe, noted that she was a major player in the Nigerian movie industry. The politician recalled “Decrees of Fate,” Igwe’s first major production, which won four awards at the National Festival of Television Programmes in 1988.
“Amaka (Igwe) was one of the pioneers of the movie industry. Her presence in Nollywood grew to become quite impressive as she amassed a number of well received movies,” Abubakar said.
He said the versatile artiste organised the annual BOB TV film festival and was noted for productions, which included “Rattlesnake” and “Violated” that dwelt heavily on contemporary family issues. The Turaki Adamawa expressed his condolences to the Igwe and Ene families and friends and associates of the deceased, in particular members of Nollywood.
Zik Okafor, national president, Association of Movie Producers, AMP, said Igwe had always stood “for excellence and thorough professionalism. Amaka Igwe did not delve into the movie industry; she was taught, tested and created for the creative industry. She had an unquestionable character. She was my friend and I say that, because I just don’t call anybody in Nollywood my friend. And when I say she was my friend, I am saying it from my spirit. She will not only be missed greatly in the Nigerian creative industry, she will be missed by people from all parts of the world.”
For Sola Fosudo, actor and a university don, Nollywood has lost one its greatest in the movie industry. “It was indeed sad news, not only for the creative industry, but for Nigeria as a whole. The industry has lost an important person. She has been a major contributor to the growth and development of the Nollywood industry in particular. We are all going to miss her,” Fosudo said.
Some prominent actresses have similarly been mourning the passing away of Igwe. One of them is Genevieve Nnaji, who expressed her grief this way: “This is the darkest day of my entire career. That, I believe, sums up how I feel right now. Your legacy will live on, Aunty Amaka, I promise you.” For Kate Henshaw, an actress, “a great woman who dared where men tread has passed on! RIP, Aunty Amaka. Our prayers are with you, Uncle Charles.” On her part, Stephanie Linus, another actress, said: “I am still in shock. Oh! How we have lost a great one. Rest in Peace, Amaka Igwe.” Stella Damasus, another actress, said: “She has gone home. God rest her soul. For the rest of us here, I wonder what the future holds or how long we have. I would rather spend each day working towards my salvation. Death does not have a clock.RIP Aunty Amaka. My prayer goes out to Uncle Charles and the children.”
Entertainment organisations are not left behind in paying tribute to Igwe. The AfricaMagic family in its comment said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of an iconic Nigerian film and TV producer, Mrs. Amaka Igwe. The African creative arts industry has lost an admired and respected leader whose vast knowledge, proven business acumen and boundless imagination made an immeasurable contribution to the development and success of our community.
“AfricaMagic extends its sincere condolences to her husband, her children, her family and friends during this difficult time, and will honour Mrs. Igwe’s memory by screening a collection of her most beloved works in the days and weeks ahead.”
Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, M-Net West Africa regional director, while confirming the decision to pay tribute to Igwe, said: “Amaka Igwe was a giant in our world, a loyal supporter, a committed professional and a valued partner.”
In the same vein, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, chief executive officer of the Africa Film Academy Award, AMAA, said in her tribute: “I received with sadness this morning the news of the passing away of my big sister and Nollywood icon, Mrs. Amaka Igwe. The motion picture industry in Nigeria and Africa will sorely miss this revolutionary who raised the bar of professionalism and artistic excellence early in Nollywood when it was not fashionable.”
Born in 1963in Udi, Enugu State, Amaka Isaac-Ene had her early education at All Saints School (now Trans Ekulu Primary School), Girls’ High School Awkunanaw, Enugu, and Idia College, Benin, where she did her A levels. From there she proceeded to the University of Ife, (now Obafemi Awolowo University) where she studied Education/Religion. She had a Master’s degree from the University of Ibadan. She worked briefly as a lecturer at Anambra State University of Technology and in the oil and gas sector before settling for the motion picture industry.
In the motion industry, she was to become an accomplished writer, producer, director, entrepreneur and teacher. In the course of the profession, she founded BoBTV Expo, Top Radio 90.9FM, Amaka Igwe Studios, and recently launched Q Entertainment Networks.
A visionary and pioneer of modern Nigerian TV drama and film, she hit national limelight as the writer and producer of ‘Checkmate’ and award-winning TV soap and its offshoot, ‘Fuji House of Commotion.’ Some of her Nollywood projects included ‘Rattle Snake’ and ‘Violated’, two critically-acclaimed movies that set her apart from the Nollywood industry.
Igwe is survived by Charles, her husband of 21 years, three children, an aged mother and many others from a large extended family.