How A Man Smokes And Drinks Should Not Be Anyone’s Worries, Charles Novia Defends Muna Obiekwe

I never really met him nor knew him personally but I admired
his acting skills onscreen whenever I watched the movies he featured in. He was
an actor who had a panache beyond comparison in many of his roles. I always
thought he was damned good.
That he is dead is a sad reality. That he died at all when
he lived and still lives in our hearts and on our screens is the painful jolt
to our systems. Because in Nollywood, actors (and good ones too, in Muna’s
mould) never really die. They only transcend to another place where, perhaps,
the ovation they receive over there gives lasting peace to their souls.

N.B it’s smokes and not spokes. Big typo. Was rushing out.

What can one really say about Muna? I never knew much about
him and perhaps many people did not as well. He seemed to live a life less
glimpsed in personal details than that more appreciated on the television
screens. He seemed to me to be a recluse.
And I might be wrong here but when one reads his body
language with the benefit of hindsight, one could begin to piece together a
deliberate insulation by the gifted actor from the public eye. And there is
nothing wrong with that. Many talented creatives all over the world are like
that. But Muna’s case stands out because it seemed like our nosey and
sensational entertainment press just could not get anything on him. There were
few stories or scandals about him and more reviews about his body of work which
is quite the hallmark of an artiste who exploits a mystique around him.
He kept his life private and perhaps, that privacy was as
much a tragic flaw as it was a commendable decision, depending on how one views
it. He shunned selfies and self-serving instagram posts about material
acquisitions. He could well have lied, as most of his colleagues do about his
material wealth, just to ‘belong’. But he kept it real. He did. I respect that.
I have read some reports on his death online and while the
veracity of such is yet to be final on my part, there were tales of his battle
with Kidney Disease for a few years and his weekly Dialysis treatments which he
hid from the public all these years and known only to his close family. It was
reported that he shunned all entreaties by those in the know to raise funds for
him through a public appeal and preferred to plan a stage show which would have
helped him out of the medical financial demands. If that was indeed true, it
was quite unfortunate. Because I believe there would be few souls who would not
have donated to a Save Muna fund, if only to help in giving the actor a second
lease of life.
Other reports say that he was a heavy drinker of hard liquor
and smoked a lot and there were assertions that these must have caused his
health issues. There’s nothing much to say about that. Artistes generally
imbibe in habits which act as a counterbalance to the demands of their jobs.
How a man smokes and drinks should not be anyone’s worries. It is the
self-moderation switch in the artiste which should be scrutinized when such
happens rather than what he does in his leisure.
There was no doubt that Muna was a great actor. But he came
across, to me, as one who had more of a brooding disposition all the time off
camera than one with a happy mien. He was more of a mystery as a soft-spoken
actor with a scowl and while that attribute in a better clime would have added
to his personal brand power, over here it (that mystery about him) alienated
him somehow from the fawning fans.
I find it personally distasteful that someone, and someone
perhaps consumed by grief or tactlessness, could release the pictures of his
last dying moments online. To prove what point? That he was really dead? That
he indeed was in a coma before he died?
It was the most dishonourable thing to his memory to show
him sprawled on a car seat, unconscious. In these days of social media, where
pictures never disappear, those final pictures are what would be used to
remember him more than others.
Muna was a damn good actor, really! And I do not think his
death is a closing of the final curtains of his act.

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