Mr Ibu: Popular Nigerian actor dies at 62

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Mr Ibu: Popular Nigerian actor dies at 62
Mr Ibu

Okafor, popularly known by his stage name Mr Ibu, died on Saturday at the Evercare Hospital Lekki in Lagos.

NIGERIA | Veteran Nigerian actor John Okafor has died, sources close to his family and the Actors Guild of Nigeria have confirmed.

Okafor, popularly known by his stage name Mr Ibu, died on Saturday at the Evercare Hospital Lekki in Lagos.

Emeka Rollas Ejezie, the president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, said the actor, 62, suffered cardiac arrest earlier in the day and had been taken to the intensive care unit.

"I announce with deep sense of grief that Mr Ibu didn't make it," Rollas said, adding that he had confirmed the news with the actor's manager of 24 years, Don Single Nwuzor.

Mr Ibu has been battling with health complications since last year. His leg was amputated in November for medical reasons.

But it came with a scandal for the family of the man who once joked that "I hatch children like a pigeon" when he was challenged on the notion that men with potbelly underperform in bed.

Two of his children were arrested for allegedly stealing money raised through a crowd-funding scheme to pay for his hospital fees, the BBC reported on January 26.

Earlier in December, Mr Ibu's family dismissed reports alleging that the actor's leg was amputated due to diabetes, instead revealing it was due to complications of a blood clot.

In a statement, the family said that a double surgery was done on Mr Ibu's leg.

"The first amputation didn't completely correct his health predicament. So, the doctors had to go ahead to amputate the same leg further to ensure we didn't lose him," the statement said.

"Daddy's cause of sickness is also not diabetes but he's had constant clotting of the blood in his leg (diseased blood vessels) and other health challenges."

Mr Ibu's health issues first came to public attention last October, when the family posted a video on social media of the Nollywood star celebrating in hospital.

In the clip he asked his fans for help with medical bills, eliciting a huge response - according to the BBC

Hilarious stupidity

Alongside his contemporaries Sam Loco Efe and Nkem Owoh, popularly known as Osuofia for his 2003 self-deprecating portrayal of culture shock and social issues, Mr Ibu was was considered to be one of Nigeria’s most talented comic characters.

Where Sam Loco dropped jaws with adjectives, diction and jargon that defied the gods, where Nkem Owoh captivated with storytelling, Mr Ibu punched hearts with blasé stupidity, hilarious imbecility and a sharp disconnect from reality.

He brought life to the silver screen in several films when playing against the 'Two Rats' Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme where he would peddle raw innocence to much comical effect.

Moses Olaiya Adejumo, popularly known as Baba Sala, would have been proud of Mr Ibu. Or perhaps they will in the afterlife now that they are together, Baba Sala regarded as the father of modern Nigerian comedy, can ask Mr Ibu for a demo.

Born John Ikechukwu Okafor in Nkanu West in Enugu State, southeastern Nigeria on October 17, 1961, Mr Ibu pursued basic education in Enugu State, and later enrolled for an undergraduate course in management.

He has starred in dozens of Nollywood films and dubbed in music in 2020 with two songs, This Girl and Do You Know - both released in 2020 - but it was for his 2004 lead role in Mr Ibu that he was immortalised.

In 2021, he both revealed a lot as he defended his distended belly against the notion that men with potbellies under-perform during sex.

"Some people have said that people with potbellies are not good lovers or sexually active, but being good in bed is relative," he said.

"My answer to this is that I have 13 children (10 boys and two girls) though I lost one of them. That is the evidence of my sexual virility. I hatch children like pigeons.”

He also went ahead to note that he had children before he married his current wife who has four children for him.

"I don’t cheat on my wife. I had children before I married her. I left that life because many women wanted to have children for me, but I cannot build a primary school in my house.”

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