Veteran Nollywood actress Rachel Oniga dies at 64

August 1, 2021
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By Gbenga Bada

The curtain was drawn on the illustrious career of veteran Nollywood actress, Rachel Oniga, on Friday.

The ‘Owo Blow’ actress, whose acting career began in 1993, died at about 10 pm, according to family sources, after a career that lasted close to three decades.

Her death came as a shock to family members, associates and colleagues in the film industry as she was said to have been involved in the shooting of some film scenes at a location in Mowe, Ogun State only a few days ago.

Oniga, a native of Eku, Delta State, was born in Ebutte-Metta, Lagos on May 23, 1957. After she was made popular by her role in a Yoruba family drama, Owo Blow, she also featured in other films and drama series like The Wedding Party, 30 Days in Atlanta, Doctor Bello and the popular Wale Adenuga’s television series, Super Story, to mention a few.

A career cut short at the threshold of three decades.

The ever smiling actress thus left an indelible mark on the Nigerian entertainment industry after her incursion into the industry at the age of 35.

Unknown to many, the veteran Nollywood actress’ incursion into the world of make-believe was made possible by her friend and popular actress, Madam Kofo.

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Like one born to act, Oniga became an instant hit after her role as the mother to Owolabi in the 1990s classic, Owo Blow. After the effort, she instantly became a target for many Nollywood directors and producers.

Like a true professional, Oniga ensured the show never stopped until she breathed her last. Colleagues who were with her last week confirmed that she was on a film set for some days, after which she concluded her performance. She then decided to take a few days rest before embarking on another production scheduled for Saturday, July 31, 2021, when her sad death was announced.

Oniga the politician

In 2019, Oniga decided to take the bull by the horn by coming out on her political leanings. In March 2019, just before the Lagos State governorship elections, she expressed her opinion on why her political party, the All Progressive Congress, should continue to reign in Lagos.

The late actress, who supported Governor Sanwo-Olu’s election, said she supported the governor’s ambition because she wanted continuity in the administration of the state. She noted that when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the governor of the state, there was development, and the trend continued after he left because of the obvious fact that there was a succession plan under APC that catered for Lagos.

Before the 2019 elections, not many of Oniga’s fans knew her political inclinations. The late actress believed in her power to contribute her quota to governance as a Nigerian and celebrity.

Born on May 23, 1957 in Ebute-Metta, her birth in Lagos State helped her ability to fluently speak the Yoruba language. When she decided to go into acting after her divorce, which she regrets not fighting, she became the fans’ favourite for her ability to speak Yoruba and English language without blemish.

Before her incursion into the movie world, she was a full-time housewife who had worked as a computer programmer. After the separation, she went into trading.

She later worked briefly at Ascoline Nigeria Limited, a Dutch Consultant Company before she made her acting debut in the Nollywood classic (Memorial Hospital) in 1992 while her debut Yoruba movie was ‘Owo Blow’.

Oniga is survived by three children and grandchildren.

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