Once again the general public are made to witness a ‘super star’ displaced from the high pedestal by illness and made to beg for his very own existence. A familiar scenario that plays out on a regular basis in this great movie industry called Nollywood. Ever too often a thespian fall into hard times and then fall into a serious ailment, or the other way round. Then, like a chaperone to a blind beggar, colleagues will go cap in hand soliciting for funds to help the actor back to good health.
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Last week, it came as a shock to many when it was announced that popular Yoruba actor, Kayode Odumosu popularly known as Pa Kasumu was sick and cannot afford to treat himself. For one, the actor had been conspicuously absent on sets in recent times and no one really knew why. His colleagues especially those close to him obviously had been aware of his situation for long. As the actor himself revealed his predicament had been on for over a year.
The actor in his statement to the press is said to be battling a life-threatening Bi-ventricular failure a form of heart and liver condition. He is also said to be in the early stages of Parkinson’s Syndrome. Both ailments are very serious and require urgently treatment. Both ailments are believed to be beyond treatments in Nigeria and can only be treated abroad. He says he needs N12m to get the much needed treatment.
From his Mushin home, the actor in a video obviously shot with a phone explained his predicament and even showing his x-ray picture to prove he is indeed sick. “I want all Nigerians to help me out of this unfortunate situation that I find myself. I wouldn’t have bothered anybody with my problem if I am still agile and can move here and there to do my job, but unfortunately I couldn’t, as the sickness has weighed me down. I don’t have any money any longer after exhausting all my savings, as well as sold most of my properties.” the actor said, sobbing.
Narrating the genesis of the ailment, Odumosu said it all started in 2008, when he visited his family doctor for a routine check-up after he noticed some strange feelings. According to him, at the clinic, the doctor conducted a series of tests which produced uncomplimentary results. He was then referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, for a comprehensive assessment. At LUTH, they later discovered that his heart, kidney and liver were not functioning properly after months of various examinations.
“Since 2009, I have been undergoing major cardio treatment in LUTH three times a week. Some times in a day, I will have between four and eight tests, and all these test were very expensive with some as high as N150,000,” Odumosu explained.
Instantly, Text messages, Blackberry broadcasts, e-mails, and on social mediums, aid request for the actor has been in full swing. Not long it is said that the governor of Lagos State has given Odumosu the N12m he needed. But that we have not verified. But it is confirmed that Odumosu is in a private hospital in Lagos and the treatment he is getting is backed by the State governor.
Some are also not happy with the tail between the leg and cap in hand approach of raising funds for sick actors. Speaking with Best of Nollywood director Seun Olojetuyi, he shed more light on the situation with Odumosu. “I have been receiving false Blackberry messages on the involvement of Governor Fashola in Odumosu’s case. What I can confirm is that Governor Fashola saw Pa Kasunmu’s case on Channels Tv and instructed his Aides to reach the Actor, he was reached and the Government house doctors were given strict instructions to take him to a specialist and recommend what necessary treatment he requires,” Seun said. Speaking on the habit of soliciting money from the public, he said, “It is time for us all to challenge the leadership of Association of Nigeria Theatre Practitioners (ANTP), Actors Guild and other Associations to join hands with concerned minds and build a structured insurance policies for his members, if Fashola is a caring governor to Nollywood practioners and is doing all this, a new governor might come one day and not be so caring to actors and insist that all citizens must be treated equally be it actor or lawyer.”
Speaking with Jide Kosoko he said, “We are shocked to hear of Kay’s ailment. He has never really complained to anybody about this, as we discovered that he has quietly managed the health problem without bothering anyone. Though, I know he is ill but never knew it was as grave as this.”
According to Kosoko, rather than wait to raise money for funeral, the ANTP has already set up a committee to see how they can be of help in bringing Pa Kasumu back to good health, while appealing to all Nigerians, especially Lagos and Ogun States government to come to the aid of their dear colleague.
Francis Olukayode Olugbenga Odumosu was born on the 16th of March 1953 in Agbeni area of Ibadan, Oyo State, though, he is from Ogun State by origin. His father is from Odogbolu while his mother is from Ake also in Ogun State.
Pa Kasumu started his career at age 15; taking up roles on stage under the tutelage of Elder Chief Ayinla Olumegbon whom he knew through his actor Uncl popularly called “Brother Simbat”. His first work was a stage play titled “Iyawo Orun in 1968. He had gone ahead to appear in several stage plays, television dramas and movies. He had also directed and produced a few of his own. He is married with children.
The means of gathering money for him may seem crude yet it still remains the only effective way so far in assisting sick movie practitioners. other climes, Hollywood to be precise, there are various levels of coverage for an actor that makes sure that they not only receive proper health care anytime but also remain financially secure. First, actors are encouraged to get personal health insurance. Then they are insured by the Screen Actors Guild. They are also insured on every set they work on.
All these may seem too expensive for an average actor or guild as a whole in Nigeria, but a personal health insurance is very vital for an actor given the stressful nature of their work and the frequency with which they travel. Speaking with the Actors Guild of Nigeria president, Ibinabo Fiberesima, she explains that there is actually a scheme that insures actors but many actors refuse to take advantage of the scheme.