Celebrated Nollywood movie producer, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, share some very pleasant memories of Chico Ejiro, one of his prominent colleagues in the movie world who passed on on Christmas Day 2020.
On the death of Chico Ejiro and the memories he has about him
Indeed, this is the saddest Christmas in my entire life. On Christmas Day I planned to have fun with friends and family members but that morning somebody called me all the way from London and broke the news(of Chico Ejiro’s death) to me. I passed out. When I came around I wept like a child. Again, I was reminded by that inglorious news the frailty of life and the fact that there is actually no need for the fight, the hustle, the tribulation etc that has bedevilled the entire earth. I was saddened not because Chico and I were so close. This is a man that I have as a contemporary come to appreciate because Chico made a way where there seem to be no way.
Chico redefined film making in his own way been able to make a film by whatever budget that was available and told great stories at all times. We used to call him the papapa master. Chico was truly the king of the gorilla film making style. He survived and carved a niche for himself. He overtook several persons and became a name from Agriculture that he studied to become a film maker of repute that today the history of Nollywood cannot be written without Chico Ejiro. It was a sad Christmas. I had not seen him for quite a while nor heard from him. I never heard that he was sick. Suddenly, I had that he was dead. It was sad. Vacuum, Silent Nights and several other titles that he used in stamping his name in the creative sand of time of Nollywood can never be erased. He took the Isoko nation to the level people talk about Isoko nation. Back in the days, Chico, Zeb Ejiro, Opa Williams we used to call them the Isoko mafias in Nollywood.
Chico was a giant. Though Chico means boy in Spanish, Chico was a child in the creative atmosphere of Nollywood. He would be missed and fondly remembered for the great numbers of stars he made. Unfortunately, men behind the cameras are rarely ever celebrated in Nigeria. Names that Chico brought into prominence like the Sandra Achums, the Dolly Unachukwus, the Segun Arinzes, the Ramsey Noahs, the Emeka Ikes etc were established by the creative impetus of Chico Ejiro.
On what should be done to immortalise Chico Ejiro
It is not just about his remembrance. How do we reposition our industry to favour everybody? Because Nollywood is just about the winner takes all. Those in front of the camera take it all. Nollywood really needs to be restructured in such a way that everybody remain a beneficiary of the profiteering of each film. Nobody calls to ask for the director for advert. Outside the movie, the average Nigerian film maker does not get any kind of income from any other source.
This is an area that disturbs me. Right now, some people have emerged saying that they’re “the new Nollywood, these other ones are the old Nollywood” and looking to cast stupid aspersions on the founding fathers of this industry.
When they ran away it was this Chico that they gave a name that the millionaires are now coming to bring money. If all of us ran away then I am not sure there will be anything called Nigeria film industry that we will be talking about today. This is my calculation. The system must be arranged in such a way that it benefits everybody.
When we say the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Let Nigeria practicalize that word by immortalising the name Chico Ejiro. Creating something so that the family he left behind will not suffer because I am not sure that Chico was a moneybag looking at the body of works that he had. That’s the irony. It is just the name that was heard. If anything comes thereafter, this is where we need to do a lot of thinking.
For me, I have also told myself enough is enough of all the rush. Nobody is assured of tomorrow. We must begin to take it easy and take it one step at a time.