It was with heavy hearts that we received the news of Muna Obiekwe’s death. As his colleagues and Nigeria as a whole mourn him, we remember him as many different things. Some remember him as that handsome actor whose movies are very interesting, others remember him as that colleague that was playful and nice but I don’t think anyone ever thought of him as a poor man. However, the news has gotten stronger, that the beloved actor Muna died because he did not have enough money to pay for the proper treatment that his kidney condition needed. As much as this piece of information has gotten stronger in the minds of people, it would still seem very important to pause and ask the question: Was Muna Obiekwe’s death caused by poverty?
There is this very well-believed myth that Nollywood actors/actresses are some of the richest people in Nigeria. This implies that every Nollywood actor who is not stinking rich is not poor either, such people are “okay people.” They are in between the margin, they can afford everything they need but they cannot flaunt it because they are not actually millionaires.
Now the big question remains ‘was Muna a rich actor or an okay actor? It seems quite easy to believe that he died because he did not have the money to pay for his treatments but then, consider the following facts. In the words of his god-mother Vera Kanu, “he was to do up to 20 dialysis; the doctor said if the dialysis improved his condition, the worse would certainly be over. Sometimes he was doing two in a week, and he would need blood injection on each occasion. Each appointment was costing him N250,000 to N300,000…” Considering the fact that she did not say how long he went for the dialysis before he stopped, I think it is safe to say that he was not really poor, rather, the sickness was costing him more than he was earning. Now even if Muna was a millionaire, spending close to #600,000 every week for over a year would certainly drill a hole or several in his pocket.
Again in the words of his god-mother Vera Kanu, “The guy was private. He was managing it on his own. As a matter of fact, he has been managing it for a while until Ejiro Okurame and I came on board to help. We were combining resources to help him but there was very little we could do to save him. We had to enlist the help of Patience Ozokwor and Kanayo O. Kanayo at some point. They rendered the help they could until he died.” These words prove that even though the sickness and its treatment cost him a lot of money, he still had help from people who cared, and if he had help then he did not die of poverty. Saying he died of poverty would imply that he had no money and could not get it anywhere which obviously was not true. Even though it sounded like he was not the one who directly asked for help, he did have help.
Going further however, there is the second speculation that he died because he was too proud to ask for help. This is strengthened by the fact that his god-mother confirmed that he was a private person, so private that colleagues, friends and fans at large did not know that he was married with two kids. If he was too private a person to ask for help, then where do we draw the line between private and pride? He knew he was dying, yet he preferred to die than ask people to help him. Does this make him the martyr that his god-mother is implying he was when she said “He refused to beg to save Nollywood’s image, he in-turn, lost himself?”
If Muna was so private that he did not even want people to know he was married or that he was sick, has his death not brought all of those secrets out for all to see? What use was it hiding a sickness when you know you needed the help people could offer you? If people felt pity for your situation, it is only because they are humans and they cannot help feeling bad for someone in a bad situation. More importantly, if he knew he could not ask for help why did he not struggle harder to quit smoking and drinking so much?
Sometimes, we are defined not by what we do for ourselves but by what we do for the people we love. If Muna’s god-mother is saying he was too private to ask for help or that he did not mind losing himself, couldn’t he have done it for the people he loves? (his wife and kids). If people like Chike Bryan, OJB Jezreel and Ifeanyi Dike had felt too private to ask for help, where would they be today? There is a very big difference between being a private person and being proud.
In the light of the above, I think the information going around should be clear. Did Muna Obiekwe die of poverty or did he die because he was too proud to ask for help? May his soul rest in peace and may God console his family and provide for them.