• Entertainment - Featured
  • Updated: November 21, 2023

Amid fame, Nigerian celebrities face secret struggles, chronic health challenges

Amid fame, Nigerian celebrities face secret struggles, chron

In the wake of the amputation of one of the legs of comic actor John Okafor, popularly known as Mr Ibu, it is uncertain whether he will return to acting after his new reality.

The veteran actor's situation paints a picture of the less-acknowledged narrative in the vibrant world of Nigerian entertainment, where stars shine brightly on screens and stages, yet battle against chronic health issues.

Nigeria's entertainment industry has experienced remarkable growth, with talents that captivate audiences globally. However, the glitz and glamour carefully mask the persistent health issues these treasured stars deal with. 

In the last two years, the industry has seen the death of a good number of celebrities and a pause in the careers of some others as a result of physical and mental health issues. These conditions have been linked to lifestyle, family and societal pressure, health negligence and pursuit of fake life, among others.

In this piece, AllNews Nigeria takes a look at Nigerian celebrities who lost their lives to health issues and those who are currently battling the venom with a focus on the cause of their challenge. 

Olukayode Odumosu (Pa Kasumu)

Veteran Nollywood actor, Olukayode Odumosu popularly known as Pa Kasumu died in 2020 after battling a heart ailment for seven years.  In an interview with Sahara TV in 2013, Pa Kasumu revealed that he used to participate in drinking bouts, taking bets on who consumed cartons of beer first. He, however, stated that he stopped drinking in 2006.

“During my drinking bing, we used to take bets on who finished cartons of beer first. On one occasion, I finished two cartons of big stout!" he revealed.

The late actor explained; “After seeing my doctor, he told me to go for further tests, that is a cardiovascular test. I went for it, but since [they] couldn’t read the result, because there was no specialist there, he had to refer me to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idiaraba. That was in 2009.

Olukayode Odumosu (Pa Kasumu)

“The diagnosis showed that the heart and liver were infected. They said the thing was already getting to the kidney. But, thank God, they were able to tackle it.

In an interview with The Punch in December 2019, Pa Kasumu said that his sickness was spiritual in nature and not medical as many presumed.

Ada Ameh 

'The Johnsons' TV series star actress, Ada Ameh collapsed and died in July 2022. A month before her death, the Benue State-born actress opened up on her battle with mental health.

A lawsuit was filed against her after she failed to deliver on the job she was given with her health status unknown to them.

Ada Ameh

Ameh also lost her only daughter in 2020. According to her, the loss of her daughter was taking her life.

Eedris Abdulkareem

Nigerian rapper Eedris Abdulkareem went public with his kidney ailment in July 2022.

The veteran revealed that he started experiencing pain in his right kidney seven years ago after which he quit smoking and drinking based on the doctor's advice.

"We went to the hospital, and the doctor confirmed that I had a stage 4 kidney problem and that the only thing I could do right now was to start dialysis," he said.

Abdulkareem, in a song written to appreciate his wife who donated her kidney for his transplant, further revealed; “I felt like my body had betrayed me. But I knew that I took it for granted. Because I wasn’t going for regular checkups.

Eedris Abdulkareem

"With ignorance and carelessness, I messed up. Then I started thinking about my children and the thought of my beautiful, loving wifey.”

John Okafor (Mr Ibu)

Diabetes has taken a severe toll on John Okafor, popularly known as Mr Ibu.

One of the veteran actor's legs was recently amputated after seven successful surgeries, which according to the family were to keep him alive.

News about Mr Ibu's health situation first surfaced on the internet on his 63rd birth anniversary in October 2023.

Jasmine, the actor's adopted daughter revealed that her father had experienced the same health challenge multiple times.

“While I am hoping for prayers and assistance, as I speak to you I am still lying down in the hospital. The medical director of this hospital said that in case his new idea does not work, the next idea is to cut off my leg.

John Okafor (Mr Ibu)

"Just see me, if they cut off my leg where would I go? Pray for me, I don’t want my leg to be cut off," the actor said before his leg was amputated.

Charly Boy shares perspective

Lending a voice to the situation, Nigerian singer and actor Charly Boy harped on celebrities maintaining good health.

In an exclusive chat with AllNews Nigeria, Charly Boy maintained that only a person who is alive can work hard, urging celebrities to ensure they go for regular check-ups.

 The controversial celebrity who is an advocate for good health said; "Nigeria has happened to a lot of us. It is the individual's prerogative to take their health seriously. Because na person wey dey alive na him fit hustle. 

"That is why I have been advocating for young people to take care of themselves. Those wey get ear go listen. Those wey no get go suffer the consequences. 

"Even when I was going through my own problem, I was saying it for people to learn from my experience. This is why I don't play with my health.

"I make sure my energy level is high, make sure every aspect of my body is working. It becomes a drag when celebrities dey cry for help. Let them be going for regular check-ups."

Medical doctor wades in

The deteriorating situation of Nigerian celebrities has become a source of concern in recent times. 

A medical doctor who spoke to Allnews Nigeria said these things have always been there. "We only see them now because of the increased awareness and the wide scope of social media," the doctor who does not want his name in print said. 

"I can categorise the causes of these celebrities' problems into three; medical, social, and nutritional aspects. In the medical aspect, because they have tagged themselves as busy people, they do not create time for their medical check-ups. Without check-ups, you can't discover health problems like hypertension, diabetes, and fat accumulation.

"Some of them have a nonchalant attitude towards healthcare and it has been a concern. Some of them are even aware of their health challenges but they are not compliant with their medications nor do they follow the doctor's advice.

"So it has been a concern coupled with the fact that the healthcare system has become very low. 

"For the social aspect, healthy living has become a source of concern for Nigerians at large, especially our celebrities. Social life is trying to live a healthy and peaceful life. Many of our celebrities don't go on vacation, they don't rest. 

"Some of them also involve themselves in unhealthy behaviour like drugs and smoking.

"Social interaction is also very important. Celebrities feel they are wealthy so they become proud. Because of this, they keep to themselves, they don't share their problem, and they are not free with people around, even with their family members. This is because they believe that whenever they are, people want to beg them for money.

"This will prompt them into depression, and when they are depressed, their manner of solving problems changes. Such a person might be less interested in their life and what will help them to live a valuable life.  What I mean is that their work-life balance is very poor.

"For the nutritional aspect, there are certain food items that help you to recuperate, help your immune system, combat stress, and avoid cancer, among others. Our celebrities are not into these, they are more into fast and canned food, processed beverages, and genetically modified food and those kinds of food don't help. "

"Celebrities initially look so good but in no time you see them looking obese and they think they are enjoying themselves. You are killing yourself. Sometimes you see them in expensive restaurants, eating chicken and taking alcohol that will kill them more. So they don't eat well. 

"Having discussed these three things. The way forward is that I think celebrities should think and turn themselves very well. The idea of coming online to beg for money when things are very bad should be avoided  Celebrities should also stop excessive spending and plan their future. I think these areas should really be looked into," he said.

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