Veteran actor of the once popular television drama, “The New Masquerade”, James Akwari Iroha, alias “Gringory Akabuogu” is living in penury.
The screen hero is poor and going blind, a very sad and pathetic situation for a super talent that brought laughter to many homes of Nigerians homes with his creative skills in drama on the screen during the heydays of the popular comedy.
The actor is dying without any support from both the Nigerian public he labored to bring smiles on their faces and the federal government, a classical waste of talent and ingratitude.
For his ingenuity in creativity, he was awarded Officer of the Order of the Niger, (OON), by President Shehu Shagari in 1981. He was a delight to watch as he went on to do his thing in the most natural way while acting.
A pleasant character to watch when he was at his best in “The New Masquerade”, James Iroha is now slowly dying of penury, no food to eat, even as he has served this country with the better part of his life with his God-given talent, putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians.
Iroha by all means, is no ordinary Nigeria as creator of the highly favoured and watched national television drama series “The New Masquerade” which brought much joy to Nigerian homes on NTA network every 8pm every week.
The New Masquerade was a national delight as it eased off tension and created oneness even among enemies, husbands and wives.
The hilarious crew of The New Masquarade include, Chief Zebrudaya Okoroigwe Nwogbo alias 4:30, acted by Chika Okpala, Ovularia ( Lizzy Evuome), Clarus (Davies Ofor) and Gringory ( James Iroha), Chief Jegede Shokoya (Claude Eke) and Apena (Christie Essien).
These characters together, teamed up to produce the classic drama series that kept Nigerians awake with their God-given talents but are now left to rot away, whereas in other climes they would have been heroes swimming in wealth.
It is so sorrowful to note here that this man who gave 40 years of committed service to his father land, at 70 is a pauper begging Nigerians for survival and is battling with blindness. His condition has compelled him to make a sincere desperate appeal to Nigerians to see he lives again to enjoy a good life, in the national dailies.
Hear him “I almost beg for food. I need money to pay my rent, buying my medicine”.
The sad news about this colossus, James Akwari Iroha is that he is not only poor, he has no house of his own. He is living in complete penury, is not even supported by his local government area in present Abia State.
He stated in one of his public appeals to survive “Now there is nothing between poverty and me. I am just nose to nose with poverty.”
It would be recalled that Gringory graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1966. This man had faced life with the utmost surprise as he had been battling with ailing health for over a decade.
The plight of James Akwari Iroha should be looked up as a national concern and not just his home state or local government. All well- meaning wealthy citizens of the country should show a concern that this man’s life is not wasted and left to go blind and die in poverty.
Even as he belongs to a state and local government, his relevance in the nation cannot be over-emphasized as he used the better part of life making people happy. Therefore, concern should be shown now, rather than wait for him to die only to eulogies his talents and perhaps given extravagant state burial.
Let all that would be done for him be done now that he is alive and channeled to save his life before it is too late. ###
Allanso Jonathan Allanso