Tribute: For Sadiq Daba, No More Crows at Dawn

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By Vanessa Obioha

Sadiq Daba, a veteran actor and broadcaster who breathed life to many characters on TV, died on Wednesday evening after a long battle with leukaemia and prostate cancer. 

Daba, whose last role on the big screen was on ‘Citation’, a Kunle Afolayan movie about sex for grades practice in tertiary institutions, was rumoured dead on more than one occasion. But each time, he emerged with an indefatigable spirit to live life to the fullest.

During the press conference of ‘Citation’ last year, Daba thumped his chest and boldly told journalists gathered that he refused to give up even when it seemed there was no hope.

For many Nigerians who grew up in the 70s and 80s, Daba defining role on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) soap opera ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’ inspired them. He was fondly known by his character ‘Bitrus’. He brought his stellar art to another production of  NTA, ‘Behind the Clouds’.

 When Nollywood was at its teething stage, Daba was one of the iconic stars who graced the screen. He starred in ‘Nightmare’, a 1995 film by Zik Zulu which starred Sandra Achums, Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu among others.

At the rise of ‘New Nollywood’, Daba was picked to play the detective Danladi Waziri in Kunle Afolayan’s  2014 movie ‘October 1′. His peerless performance fetched him an Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) in 2015. In 2016, Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) bestowed the Industry Merit Award on him.

‘October 1’ proved not the be the last time Daba would work with Afolayan. Last year, when he embarked on ‘Citation’, he tapped Daba for a role.

Sharing a picture of both of them on Instagram, the filmmaker wrote “You will be missed Uncle S. You made your mark.”

“We have lost a gem,” said prominent filmmaker Femi Odugbemi. “Sadiq is one of Nigeria’s cross-generational artistes whose work spanned decades and sustained its excellence and impact. Many of my generation first met him on NTA’s ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’ in the 80s and to watch him deliver starring performances in contemporary cinema blockbusters like ‘October 1’ and ‘Citation’ tells you the quality of talent he carried.”

Veteran actress Ajoke Silva in her tribute to the deceased on Instagram wrote that he had a good run.

“I thanked God that you worked till the end.”

Commenting on that post was the Chairman of First Bank Nigeria, Ibukun Awosika who acknowledged that Daba indeed had a good run.

“I loved your talent and mastery of it from watching you as a young person in ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’. It was such an honour to work with you on ‘Citation’.”

Before fetching fame in the make-believe world, Daba worked as a broadcaster and dedicated 35 years of his life to the profession. He was famous for his outstanding and informed opinions on ‘AM Express’  which he co-hosted with the late Yinka Craig.

Information on Daba’s educational background is scanty but according to his Wikipedia page, he had his secondary education at St. Edward’s Secondary School and garnered l higher degrees in many institutions including Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. 

Daba’s deteriorating health was brought to the public space in 2017 when he announced that he was diagnosed with leukaemia and prostate cancer. He was financially supported by well-meaning Nigerians, including billionaire Femi Otedola.  To show his support for the fight against cancer, he joined Project Pink Blue to walk against cancer to commemorate World Cancer Day.

He is survived by his wife Bolaji Daba, two children and grandchildren.

“We will miss him. We will miss his dedication to the performance craft. We will miss his support and encouragement of young and upcoming professionals. But we miss most is his character, his courage in the midst of ill-health and long odds. Through very dark days, Sadiq always had a smile and a sunny positivity that gave others hope. May his gentle soul rest in peace,” concluded Odugbemi.