I knew Justus Esiri through the eyes of a child and even then, with little appreciation for talent and an even smaller appreciation for the arts. I remember the intensity I felt whenever he spoke, the passion in his eyes, the depth of his voice. Usually, he played the role of the father of some delinquent child or at times the husband of an erring wife. Whichever the role, Esiri was sure to bring it.
The generation just before mine have even greater memories of him, he was the village headmaster in the all-time Nigerian classic-The Village Headmaster. As you can imagine in the 80’s when weed was legal, black and white Tv’s meant you were “in money” and your only movie alternative was Pete Edoche in a loosely hung wrapper playing Okonkwo in “things fall Apart,” Esiri was the man to watch. He was widely respected for his indisputable talent, amiable nature and his family values that kept him out of the gossip tabloids through the course of his career that spanned for decades.
Declared one of the strong men of the African movie industry, Justus Esiri has certainly earned his fame having acted in over 100 films and TV productions including: “Forever”, “Doctor Bello”, “Foreign Demon” starring alongside South-African singer, Yvonne Chaka-Chaka and the most recently released to Nigerian audience “The Assassin’s Practice”
Couple of things you have to know about Esiri:
- He had possibly the best diction in all of Nollywood..true story!
- He was a German-trained Engineer. He attended one of Germany’s oldest and leading research institutions, Maximilian University, Munich Germany in 1964. From there he proceeded to Prof Wieners Institute of Engineering, West Berlin in 1967.
- With the birth and boom of Nollywood in the 90′s, Esiri became a known figure in the movie industry for his excellent acting skills carting away several awards including THEMA Awards, NTA Honour Awards and AMAA awards. He was also awarded the Member of the Order of Nigeria (MON) National award in the 2000s.
- He is reported to have died of diabetes, an illness he has allegedly battled for many years.
- Justus Esiri died at 70 and is survived by his wife, Omiete who is a Fashion Designer and six children including popular artiste, Dr Sid.
We would forever love and remember one of the great legends of our time. RIP Mr. Justus Esiri.