There are so many things we may never be able to understand. Life presents us a myriad of riddles; conundrums that elude us. For example, how and why, like a gust of wind smothers the bright light from a glowing candle, sudden occurrences snuff the life out of promising young people. Last week, within the space of six days, Nigeria lost three of her entertainment practitioners.
First, it was Ishola Durojaiye
On Sunday 20 March 2011, Ishola Durojaiye, popularly known as Ahmed Alasari, died in a ghastly motor accident while travelling from Abeokuta to Lagos in order to promote his new movie, ‘omo night club’. Amidst tears and sorrow, the late Nollywood actor, was buried at his residence in Abeokuta on Wednesday 23 March 2011.
Then, an Abrupt End of CD John
Later that day, when Abia State born comedian John Chijioke, better known as CD John, made the audience laugh and have a good time, whilst anchoring singer Harrysong‘s album listening party at Tribeca, Victoria Island, nobody knew the tragedy that lay ahead. After carrying out his MC duties at the late night event, he left the venue homeward bound in convoy of three cars involving the Gulder Ultimate Search Season 7 winner, Kunle Oluwaremi. “My friend drove my car, but immediately we realized a car was on the road, he managed to swerve to the left, but since it was sudden; my car hit the rear side of the Toyota. Meanwhile, CD was coming behind in a top speed and uncontrollably ran into my car (an Explorer Jeep) seconds later”, the 2011 GUS winner tells The NET NG.
He was immediately rushed to St. Nicholas hospital on Campbell Street, Victoria Island, where he died at about 7AM on Thursday 24 March 2011. CD drove the black Golf 2, with his girlfriend Ebere sitting next to him, and a certain Joy and an unknown young man at the back of the car. He died few hours after being treated for supposed head injuries while others who were in the car with him are still in at the hospital, recuperating from sustained minor injuries.
CD John’s fame had risen fast in the quite competitive comedy entertainment circles. Since breaking into the limelight in 2010, he had steadily warmed up into the hearts of numerous fans with a unique blend of music and comedy. He had parodied the diverse ways Christian praise and worship leaders from different ethnic backgrounds sang in church. Blessed with a sonorous voice, and a confident, yet calm, mien, he seemed set to join the biggest players on the stand-up comedy scene. CD John would have been a year older on Sunday 27 March 2011. ‘This is very sad. He used to call me his mom jokingly and he was even supposed to go with me for a show in London soon‘, comedienne Princess, expressed sadly.
And Chidinma Mbalaso is Gone Too
Whilst we were all still grappling the harsh reality of CD John’s death and the social media was still heavy on the sad news, on the night of Thursday 24 March, Chidinma Mbalaso, another scion of the Nigerian entertainment industry was involved in an accident in Kaduna. The 22-year old University of Abuja undergraduate who had been 2nd runner-up in the maiden edition of the Dbanj/HiTV reality show, Koko Mansion was returning to Abuja in her newly acquired car when a motorcyclist carelessly crossed the road; and in a bid to maneuver, she lost control. Mbalaso, who was building a career as a stylist and actress, was reportedly in a coma for hours, as friends and family members ran helter-skelter trying to get her blood donation. She died in the early hours on Friday 25 March 2011. ‘RIP Chidinma Mbalaso – 22 Jan 1989 – 25 Mar 2011. You will be remembered fondly and with love. Adieu little sister’ Amara Nwakpa posted through his Twitter handle (@bubusn).
A Culture of Unnecessary Deaths?
In the wake of this new string of unfortunate incidents, it behooves us to reflect and seek some careful observations. It would be recalled that just a few months ago, Terry G was lucky to be alive, after a nasty accident that left his car badly damaged around 3AM on September 8, 2010. The singer-producer was on his way home, after hanging out with friends in Ikeja, Lagos, when he ran into the road demarcation around Chemiron, close to Sunday Market, in Ogba. The car, a Toyota Camry, was beyond recognition. Terry G survived.
Four months earlier, Mr. Olaitan Oladapo Olaonipekun, A.K.A. Da Grin had died at 6PM on Thursday 22 April 2010 – eight days after he was involved in a ghastly accident. He survived a serious head injury, as a result of the crash. Dagrin, 26, a recording artiste, songwriter, rapper and performer, had left a friend’s place at 2AM on Wednesday 14 April 2010 when he ran under a stationary truck and his car was crushed. The cement-delivery truck had been parked in front of Alakara Police Station in Mushin, Lagos. He was initially admitted at Tai Solarin Hospital, Baba Olosha Bus stop, Mushin before he was transferred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba where Doctors made serious efforts to save his life. He was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit and operated upon, and later moved to the private wing of the hospital.
In 2005, Nollywood actress Stephanie Okereke survived a ghastly car accident. Stephanie underwent months of out-patient treatment for burns and grueling physiotherapy to regain full use of her legs.
A common denominator in all these incidents is the involvement of cars. Perhaps we want to ask ourselves why all of these notable cases have been about car accidents. It is no news that many of our roads in Nigeria are in a really bad state. Even many politicians, who are largely seen as responsible for pushing and ensuring the proper completion of some of these failed road projects, have died on some of those roads too.
More appalling is the state of the healthcare system in our country. In the case of CD John, according to a report by the NetNG, Oluwaremi also added that St. Nicholas hospital demanded an upfront payment of N200,000 before they could attend to them. “They didn’t want to admit CD and other injured people despite seeing the serious injuries. In fact, I don’t know what this county is turning into”, he lamented. NET’s efforts to speak to the management of St. Nicholas hospital proved abortive as the Chief Matron K. G Vigo refused to answer any of their inquiries, including on the injury CD suffered before the untimely death. She noted “It’s confidential”. Doubts have been raised severally about the ability of Nigerian hospitals to adequately respond to emergency situations.
“She lost so much blood. We were really working hard all night to get blood donations” a friend of Chidinma Mbalaso said. This was true because from midnight till morning, on the fateful day, several messages spread across the social media, urging anyone with contacts in Kaduna to please rise and convince them to donate blood for the young lady. “Chidinma is at St. Gerald’s hospital in Kaduna. Please call … (numbers withheld) if you can help. If you’re a B- or O-. She needs blood donation. Please save a life. Thanks!”
The Need for Sincere Introspection
Whilst it is almost automatic that we point accusing fingers at the government and our failed systems, some introspection could do us all a lot more good. As we mourn our departed friends, and would not accuse the dead, we ought to reflect and take our own destiny in our hands. If you have to party till late at night, which has been a trend for quite some time now, maybe you could arrange to sleep over somewhere really close to the venue. By all means, avoid driving under the influence of alcohol. Friends, watch your back and be on the look-out for others. If you will be travelling a really long distance and/or you feel tired, having a more experienced and alert driver might just save the day. Remember, “Speed kills!” The FRSC has preached the message a zillion times, even if it is more conspicuous during festive periods – to motorcyclists and drivers alike. There is not much we can control in matters of fate, but the little choices we have to make, let us all do with utmost care and regard, not just for our own lives, but for the many people out there whose lives depend on us. Here’s hoping and praying that in a long time to come, more young people like these would not be plucked too soon by the cruel hands of death.
Here’s a video of one of CD John’s best performances. (Warning: I fight tears now, whenever I attempt to watch this!)
*Special research credit to: The Net NG.
Photo credit: HiMagazine
Gbenga Awomodu is an Editorial Assistant at Bainstone Ltd./BellaNaija.com. When he is not reading or writing, Gbenga is listening to good music or playing the piano. He believes in the inspirational power of words and pictures, which he explores in helping to make the world a better place. He blogs at Gbenga’s Notebook (www.gbengaawomodu.com).