“Gaining traction with someone’s misfortune, handicap, ill luck is wicked,”, Kanayo says.
Less than 48 hours after Nigerians woke up to a heartbreaking video of veteran actor John Okafor (Mr. Ibu) pleading for support from his hospital bed, another sub-plot plays out with yet another veteran actor, Kanayo O. Kanayo.
The renowned Nollywood icon advised activist Reno Omokri and outspoken–although controversial–public commentator VeryDarkMan not to ride on Mr. Ibu’s misfortune for their own 15 minutes of fame.
Mr. Ibu’s plea for support, driven by a mysterious illness that could result in the amputation of his legs, elicited widespread reactions – not all of them pretty – including those from Rene Omokri and social media personality, VeryDarkMan.
Rene Omokri had previously taken to social media to call out Labor Party presidential aspirant, Peter Obi, to come to Mr. Ibu’s aid, highlighting that the latter had thrown his support behind the former during his 2023 election campaign.
He wrote on his Instagram page @reneomokri:
“After all that John Okafor did for him, perhaps Mr. Peter Obi can support him by paying Mr. Ibu’s medical bills. I am even surprised that Peter Obi did not remember to post about Mr. Ibu on his birthday yesterday. Even at that, Peter Obi should help him in his time of need.”
The political commentator’s message was clear and direct: it was time for Mr. Obi to reciprocate that support.
Verydarkblackman, not one to mince words, expressed his disappointment in the Nollywood elites for not putting the necessary machinery in place to assist their legends and tying it to the wider problem with Nigeria.
These statements elicited counter-reactions from a not-so-pleased Kanayo.
In an over 3-minute video posted on his Instagram page, he strongly criticized using another’s misfortune as a means to “castigate and indict” other members of the community, often repeating the Ibo phrase “Onyeka o zuru” (which means “Who has it all”?)
He accused Rene Omokri and Uche Maduagwu of attention-seeking, characterizing those who did that as “wicked” and “heartless.” He further reinforced the Actors Guild of Nigeria’s efforts in aiding their colleague “within their limited terms.”
Reactions to Kanayo’s video were diverse, with some praising his forthrightness, while others criticized the Nollywood community for not intervening earlier in Mr. Ibu’s situation.
A user, @officialjaymore commented:
“KOK will say it as it is without mixing words or being compromised, you see why history will never forget such a man.”
Another user, @_bigspence, added:
“Na today dey break? If you all had helped him, he won’t be here begging today from a sick bed…”
In the midst of his rage, some fans did not spare him the “ritualist” branding, jokingly urging him to “do the needful” to Rene Omokri and Verydarkman.
@real_berry___ jokingly remarked:
“Sir please use very dark man for ritual and bring back Mohbad.”
“Well spoken Sir & Anybody that say nonsense, use him for sacrifice”
Another @vic.vibes contributed with:
“Please consult the gods and know if the gods can accept @uchemaduagwu as a sacrificial lamb”
Meanwhile, Verydarkman, famous for not letting anyone get the better of him counter-counter-reacted in yet another video on Instagram with the caption:
“Nollywood people want to eat me because dey are guilty, if you all care Mr. Ibu won’t online crying for help and lastly thank you to everyone that have contributed so far, let’s get the legend out of his sick bed.”
This divide between Kanayo’s supporters and VeryDarkMan’s fans persists, even as both sides agree on the necessity of immediate aid for Mr. Ibu. Kanayo will surely stand by his word and if his movies have taught us anything, it’s that don’t get on his bad side.