Legendary Nigerian Film Maker, Eddie Ugbomah, Dies at 78

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Eddie Ugbomah

Yinka Olatunbosun

The legendary Nigerian Film Maker, Eddie Ugbomah, has died after a protracted battle with a terminal illness. The news of his death was broken Satyr say afternoon by the Chairman, Chief Eddie Ugbomah Medical Fund Committee, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas who revealed that Ugbomah died in the same Lagos hospital that he was scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure on Monday.

The famed movie director and producer was known for the true-life story movie, The Rise and Fall of Oyenusi (1977), The Boy is Good (1982, Apalara (1986), Oil Doom (1980), Death of A Black President (1984), Omiran (1986) amongst others. Though he hailed from Delta state, he spent most of his formative years in Obalende and Lafiaji, Lagos. After his education at St. Matthias, Lafiaji and City College, School, he left Lagos for London to study drama, journalism and film at various institutions. He worked at BBC and played minor roles in Guns at Batasi and Dr. No.

As a member of an Afro-Caribbean drama group Ugbomah directed some of the group’s plays such as This is Our Chance, staged at theStoke Newington Theatre Hall. Upon his return to Nigeria in 1975, he got involved in concert promotion before starting Edifosa, a film production company.

Ugbomah belong to the generation of film makers that preceeded what the phenomenon called Nollywood. His films treated contemporary socio-political issues. For instance, his 1979 drew upon the story of a notorious robber, Ishola Oyenusi who terrorized Lagosians in the early 1970s thus serving as an expose on the menace of armed robbery in Nigeria. This trend was seen in movies produced by the likes of Jimi Odumosu such as Fiery Force.

In the Oyenusi movie, Ugbomah featured as the lead actor. Ugbomah’s next film, The Mask was released in 1979. The film’s material is based on looting of Africa’s artefacts by colonizers and the quest to return those artefacts back home. In The Mask, Ugbomah who also played the lead character, Obi tries to sneak into the British Museum to steal the Benin ivory maskand return it to Nigeria. Some critics likened the character of Obi to James Bond. Ugbomah’s career flourished into the early 1980s producing such films as Oil Doom, Bolus ’80 and The Boy is Good. Most of his films were shot in 16mm with the exception of The Mask. Later in his career, Ugbomah ventured intoYoruba video films.

He was appointed chairman of the Nigerian Film Corporation in 1988.