Posted by By Senan Murray on
Fans of popular Nigerian actress Hassanat Taiwo Akinwande are still shocked by her fall from grace.
The star of Nigeria's film industry, known as Nollywood, appeared in court last week charged with trying to smuggle drugs to the UK.
Some of them say they will now boycott films she has starred in "because she has disgraced her fans and country".
Miss Akinwande, who uses the stage name Wunmi, was arrested in September by officials of the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency while trying to get on board a London-bound Virgin Atlantic flight from Lagos.
After a few days in detention Wunmi, who is famous for her roles in Nigerian movies that preach morality, had excreted 92 wraps of high-quality cocaine weighing in at 1.214 kg, according to the prosecution.
"I am really disappointed in her," Jide Osinowo, a taxi driver in Abuja told the BBC.
|It's the work of the devil |
Fan Kemi Makoju
"I and my family used to watch her films because they taught children lessons about how to grow up and become responsible citizens and now this! I even heard that she was crying in the court and saying she was not guilty. Well, we shall see."
"With this whole cocaine business, I have no reason whatsoever to watch any of her movies," Nollywood film buff Sola told the BBC.
But some of Wunmi's fans are sympathetic.
"It's the work of the devil," Kemi Makoju, a self-confessed Wunmi fan said at a video rental store in Abuja.
"She is not the kind of person to do something like this. I'm not going to stop watching her films just because of this small thing."
Wunmi's colleagues in Africa's fastest-growing film industry were not so sympathetic.
Following her arrest, the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners quickly suspended Wunmi from its ranks saying her conduct had brought the industry into disrepute.
Wunmi's fans and fellow actors now appear to be avoiding her.
When she was charged before Lagos high court last week, her fans and colleagues uncharacteristically avoided the court premises.
Abandoned and alone, Wunmi wept freely and told the judge she did not speak any English.
Her confession was greeted with subdued sniggers from the gallery who clearly thought Wunmi had taken her acting to the court room.
"Mi o jebi, sir" - Yoruba for 'I'm not guilty, sir' - she responded when the one-count charge of illegal drug possession was read to her.
Wunmi, a single mother of two was a Nollywood pioneer with a career that dates back to the 1980s when she first appeared in a popular Yoruba language soap opera called Feyi Kogbon, Yoruba for 'Learn from this'.
|It's a good advert for us because more people are now asking for her films |
Pirated film seller
She's starred in over 50 low-budget Nigerian home videos which are usually shot in six weeks or less.
One of the Yoruba language movies Wunmi starred in is Ajeniyonu, Yoruba for 'making money is a risky venture.'
It is indeed a big risk Wunmi may have taken, for if convicted she faces spending the rest of her acting career in jail.
However, her arrest, ironically, has reportedly led to a renewed interest in movies she starred in.
"It's a good advert for us because more people are now asking for her films," Uchenna Obiefuna who sells pirated CDs and DVDs in Abuja's central Wuse Market told the BBC.
"Yes, I feel sorry for her, but our people also say one man's downfall may be the opportunity another is waiting for to rise."
"No be my fault, na God - it's not my doing, it's God's," he adds in Nigerian Pidgin English, shrugging.
Nigeria is reputed to be the hub of African drugs trafficking.
Although marijuana is the only drug cultivated in the country, Nigerians have been caught in the past smuggling South American cocaine to Europe and other parts of Africa.
A recent United Nations report which studied drug trafficking in West Africa found that Nigerians were responsible for most of the cocaine smuggled into the UK by the so-called "stuffers and swallowers" who swallow drugs wrapped in condoms for later retrieval.
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