Late Esiri: The Legend & The Father

Justus Esiri
1942 - 2013
The rate at which the grim reaper is harvesting lives is becoming alarming by the day. This February alone has seen the passage of three personalities of the entertainment industry; Goldie Harvey, Lugard Onoyemu and Collins Ifeanyi Chukwu (Goldie and Lugard passed on, on Feb. 14th while Collins passed on Feb. 15th). Now Veteran actor Justus Esiri, mostly known for his role as the Village Headmaster in the popular television series, has joined the bandwagon of the beyond.

Esiri as The Village Headmaster in the 1980s

With Balogun (Wole Amele) on the Village Headmaster. 

The Oria, Abraka, Delta State born actor passed away on Monday night after a battle with an undisclosed ailment at the age of 71. The family had kept his battle with the ailment hidden until now. An excerpt from a tribute to him from Nigerian Entertainment Today:

"Esiri, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), was for many years, a leading man in drama and movies, and one of the few in his category to have successfully crossed over from stage and TV, into the home video industry now popularly called Nollywood.

He attended Urhobo College Effurun in the then Bendel State, Warri.

He also attended the Maximillan University, Munich, German, 1964, Prof. Weners Institute of Engineering, West Berlin, 1967 and the Ahrens School of Performing Arts, 1968.
It is believed he started his acting career in Germany. He was the only Nigerian male performing on stage between 1968 and 1969.

According to reports, he also worked for Voice of Nigeria, German Service as a translator; and it was while  performing on stage in Germany that a delegation from Nigeria invited him home to perform in a government sponsored programme. He never returned to Germany."

I remember watching Mr. Esiri being interviewed by Helen Paul on Jara, an entertainment program that airs periodically on Africa Magic sometime last year. It was actually in this program that I got to know that he was also father to one of Mavin record's artistes - Dr. Sid.

Dr Sid (Onoriode Esiri) and Father, Justus Esiri 

Mr. Esiri shared at length with Helen Paul how he was at first bothered when he learnt from his son, Onoriode Esiri (Dr. Sid) that he wanted to pursue music as a career despite his training to become a Dentist. 

He eventually let the young man do what he wanted and avidly supported him. He even claimed to be a fan too. He did a small rendition and dance step of Dr. Sid's songs to prove to Helen that he was in sync with his son's dreams. 

Jara show anchors; Uti Nwanchukwu and Helen Paul
Image courtesy

It was a heartwarming interview that left a message for any parent watching. Sometimes its hard agreeing with a child's passion but its most important that one let's go and let God. 

The soft-spoken but firm Esiri was a fun-loving and scandal-free actor; a reciepient of THEMA Awards, NTA Honours Awards and AMAA Awards amongst many others. 

He was married to one wife with six children.

May his soul rest in peace.

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