VETERAN Nigerian actor Justus Esiri has passed away after a brief and undisclosed illness in a development that has sent shockwaves across the entertainment industry.
Regarded as a pioneer in the Nigerian acting industry, Esiri's career spans back to the 1960s and up until his death, he was still a leading Nollywood figure. He came to the limelight in the 1970s when he featured in the sitcom Village Headmaster where he played the headmaster and up until last year, was one of Nollywood's leading lights, featuring in films like the Assassin's Practise.
Declared one of the strong men of the African film industry, Esiri attended Urohobo College, Warri and later went to Germany to study engineering where he developed an interest for theatre. It was in Germany that he began his acting career and during one of his stage performances there he was spotted by a Nigerian delegation that subsequently invited him to perform in a government sponsored programme back home.
After his performance, he decided to remain in Nigeria. Esiri, who was proficient in German, has since acted in over 100 films and television productions including Forever, Things Fall Apart and recently Foreign Demon starring alongside Yvonne Chaka-Chaka.
He was the only Nigerian male performing on stage in 1968/69 and also worked for the Voice of Nigeria German Service as a translator. Justus is the father of popular Nigerian musician Dr Sid.
A regular visitor to the UK Justus was a member of the Nigerian caste of stars who attended the London 2012 Olympics, where he last spoke to Nigerian Watch. Details of what ailment he was suffering from are still being awaited.
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