The year 2021 came with its challenges, turbulence and calamities, leaving in its trail fatalities especially of no fewer than 21 notable personalities including renowned church leaders, royalty, actors and actresses, and hip-pop legend across the world.
Persecondnews takes a look at these personalities who passed on in 2021. Sadly, they may have gone, but their legacies live after them.
The pioneering African American actress, Cicely Tyson, died peacefully on January 28, 2021, at the age of 96.
The film, television and stage actress had a 60-year career which earned her three Emmys, a Tony Award and an honorary Academy Award. She used her career to take on issues important to her, such as race and gender. She passed away few days after releasing her memoir; “Just As I Am.”
She was best known for her work in films including Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and The Help.
She was also known for playing Ophelia Harkness in How To Get Away With Murder alongside Viola Davis.
In 2016, Tyson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2018, she became the first African-American woman to receive an honorary Academy Award.
Hip-hop legend and actor Earl Simmons a.k.a DMX died on April 9, 2021, at the age of 50.
He died from multiple organ failure a week after being hospitalized for a cocaine-induced heart attack.
The Ruff Ryders rapper was considered among the top superstars of rap music, and was the first artist to debut at number one with an album five times in a row in the US, within a year.
DMX was also an actor, who featured in several movies including Exit Wounds, Belly, Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave.
Before his death, the legendary rapper had been busy working on his much-anticipated comeback album ‘Undisputed’.
A statement from his record label, Def Jam, read: “Def Jam Recordings and the extended Def Jam family of artists, executives and employees are deeply and profoundly saddened by the loss of our brother Earl “DMX” Simmons.
DMX was a brilliant artist and an inspiration to millions around the world. His message of triumph over struggle, his search for the light out of darkness, his pursuit of truth and grace brought us closer to our own humanity.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who loved him and were touched by him. DMX was nothing less than a giant. His legend will live on forever.”
He was laid to rest in a funeral live-streamed on the BET Network, and a celebration of his life was held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre.
Michael K Williams
African American actor Michael K Williams, 54, died of acute drug intoxication on September 6, 2021.
He was found dead by family members in his penthouse apartment.
Williams, known for playing Omar Little in the television series The Wire and Albert ‘Chalky’ White on Boardwalk Empire, had fentanyl, parafluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine in his system, an autopsy revealed.
He also had roles in the films 12 Years a Slave and Assassin’s Creed, and received acclaim for his performances in Lovecraft Country, When They See Us and The Night Of.
Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s star designer and Off White founder, was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, who was hailed as the Karl Lagerfeld of his generation and a Renaissance man in the fashion world.
The Ghanaian American died from cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, at the age of 41 on November 28, 2021, in Chicago.
Abloh, who carved a niche for himself in the fashion industry by sewing as a young boy with his seamstress mother, studied civil engineering and also has a master’s degree in architecture.
His creative pursuits stretched beyond the world of clothes, as he was also a renowned DJ, a furniture designer and held exhibitions in major museums.
Abloh was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He was the consort of the British monarch from Elizabeth’s accession on February 6, 1952.
Until his death on April 9, 2021, at the age of 99, he was the longest-serving royal consort in history.
The death certificate, certified by Sir Huw Thomas, head of the Royal Medical Household, stated the cause of death as “old age”.
Philip had returned to Windsor Castle on March 16, after spending a month in hospital. He initially received care for an infection but then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.
Confirming his death, an official statement from Buckingham Palace read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty, the Queen, has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“The Royal Family joins with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
His funeral took place on April 17, 2021.
Temitope Balogun Joshua (Pastor T.B Joshua)
T.B Joshua’s death is one death that shocked Nigerians as well as people all over the world.
The founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), was one of Africa’s most popular televangelists and most influential evangelists with thousands of followers in Nigeria and beyond.
The preacher, whose popularity rose after he set up Emmanuel TV which was used to broadcast the church’s programme and miracle sessions, died at 2 am on Sunday, June 6, 2021, just a week to his 58th birthday, June 12.
Known as “the Prophet'” to his followers, his death was announced on his Facebook page with a message that read: “God has taken His servant” and the cause of his death was not disclosed.
The televangelist who was named the fourth richest pastor in Nigeria and ninth on the global scene, according to Forbes 2021 ranking of richest pastors, was known for his philanthropic gestures in Nigeria and other countries.
He was laid to rest on July 9, in the church premises at Ikotun, a Lagos suburb.
Veteran Singer and Rapper Lanre Fasasi, popularly known as Sound Sultan died on July 11, 2021, after battling throat cancer for some time.
A statement released by the family and obtained by Persecondnews, said: “Sound Sultan died after a hard fought battle with Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a group of related malignancies (cancers) that affect the lymphatic system (lymphomas).”
Sound Sultan, whose name cannot be left out when mentioning artistes that started modern hip hop music in Nigeria, released his first single “Jagbajantis” in 2000, which was a hit in Nigeria.
After independently releasing other singles and featuring in hit songs of other artists, he was signed by Kennis Music.
Asides being a rapper and a singer, Sound Sultan was until his death at 44 years, a songwriter, actor, comedian and basketball club co-owner. He is survived by his wife, three children and his siblings.
He was also buried the same day according to Islamic rites in the U.S.
Multi-talented icon, Victor Uwaifo, who was best known for his hit songs, ‘Mami Water’ and ‘Joromi’, died on August 28, 2021.
The Veteran afrobeat musician, aged 80, was also a songwriter, sculptor and renowned for his mastery of the guitar and the flute.
He was the first music legend to be appointed as Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism in Nigeria; he served in Edo State.
Uwaifo also bagged the National Merit Honours of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
He was one of the original ambassadors of Afrobeat and an inventor of the double neck “magic guitar” with 18 strings and also a genius at sculpting.
Persecondnews recalls that Uwaifo was conferred with the prestigious Living Human Treasure award by UNESCO.
Baba Suwe (Babatunde Ayinla Omidina)
On November 22, 2021, Nollywood lost one of its veterans and comic actor, Alhaji King Babatunde Ayinla Nurudeen Olasunkanmi Omidina popularly known as Baba Suwe, aged 63.
The actor hailed from Lagos State and featured in movies like Iru Esin, Ebi Olokada, Baba Londoner, Obelomo, Elebolo, Larinloodu, and Baba Jaiye Jaiye.
He was buried three days after his death at a funeral ceremony attended by several Nollywood stars.
Persecondnews.com recalls that on October 14, 2011, Baba Suwe was busted with cocaine at the International wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos by the officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Baba Suwe was picked up at the International wing while boarding an Air France flight to Paris, France, where he was scheduled to perform as a Master of Ceremony at the naming ceremony of an Air France staff member.
It generated a lot of controversy as he denied ingesting the drugs and also refused to defecate it after several days in custody.
But the scanning machine at the airport detected a suspected substance hidden in Baba Suwe’s stomach.
Nigerians were greeted with the news of the demise of veteran broadcaster and actor, Sadiq Daba, on March 3, 2021.
Daba, who made waves working with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), died following a long battle with leukemia and prostate cancer.
He gained prominence in the film industry with his roles in series and movies like Cock Crow at Dawn and October 1st.
The Kano State-born actor had in 2017 narrated his battle with Leukemia.
He further disclosed that he was receiving treatment at the Obafemi Awolowo Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife.
“When this thing started, I was referred to Ile-Ife from LASUTH Lagos State. The challenges have been quite enormous; Leukemia has been complicated by prostate by the Grace of God, I will get through this,” he noted.
Legendary actress, Rachael Oniga, died of heart disease one week after shooting a film.
Oniga who was originally from Eku, Delta state, but was born in Ebute Meta, Lagos state, died at the age of 64, on July 30, 2021.
A statement by Oniga’s sister, Deaconess Toyin Odusote, announcing her demise read in part: “With a heavy heart and total submission to God, we write to announce the passing of our beloved sister, mother and grandmother, Chief Rachel Tabuno Oniga.
She died in a Lagos hospital at the age of 64, on Friday, July 30, 2021 at about 10 pm.
Contrary to diverse reports informing that she died of COVID-19 complications, we write to inform the general public that she died of heart-related issue, an ailment she battled for a short period before her demise.
We accept her sudden transition as God’s design and we see it as a function of a race of life well finished.
“Painful as it may, we accept it in good faith and total submission to her Maker.”
She began her acting career in 1993 with her first movie titled Onome and her debut Yoruba movie, Owo Blow.
Over the years, Oniga has featured in notable Nigerian films such as Sango, Chief Daddy, My village people and Wale Adenuga’s television series, Super Story.
The veteran actress had three children and many grandchildren and was buried a month later in Lagos State.
Victor Olaotan, best remembered for playing the character of Fred Ade Williams in the soap opera Tinsel, passed away on August 26, 2021.
The news of Olaotan’s demise was confirmed by his wife, who further disclosed that he had been incapacitated after being involved in a car accident in 2016.
The star had suffered a traumatic brain injury following the accident which occurred when he was reportedly on his way to a movie set.
The accident had led to the actor putting his film career on hold and in 2018, he had sought financial aid to facilitate his treatment outside the country.
Billionaire businessman Femi Otedola had responded, settling his bill of N39 million.
The Nigerian movie industry also lost another actress, Rachel Bakam, who died on April 13, 2021.
Persecondnews gathered that the actress, television presenter and producer died in a private hospital in Abuja, after a brief illness leaving behind a son.
The Kaduna-born graduate of English and Theatre Arts from the Ahmadu Bello University, was also an anti-trafficking ambassador.
She also studied Digital Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy, and featured in
movies like Black Knight, The Last Day, Asunder, Dangerous Mission, and Ladies First.
The death of another prominent actor, Ernest Asuzu, was recorded by the Nollywood industry on January 26, 2021.
36-year-old Asuzu, who had been bedridden for three years after he came down with a stroke in 2015, was reported to have slumped and died.
He began his acting career in the ’90s and rose to prominence after he starred in the 1997 Nollywood classic, Rituals.
According to the Director of Communications Actors Guild of Nigeria, Monalisa Chinda Coker, who confirmed the death of the actor in a statement, disclosed that the actor died on his way to the hospital.
Mercy Mercy Cynthia Ginikachukwu popularly known as Ada Jesus was a Nigerian actress and comedian.
The young comedian passed on in April 21, 2021, after battling with kidney disease whichleft her incapacitated.
Persecondnews recalls that a lot of controversies trailed her death, following her face-off with popular Nigerian Prophet, Chukwuemeka Ohanaemere a.k.a Odumeje or Ndaboski.
Ada Jesus had claimed that the Anambra-based prophet connived with Rita Edochie to stage fake miracles.
She further alleged that she helped Edochie get men to sleep with her.
According to reports, Ada Jesus was diagnosed with a kidney problem months after she made the allegations.
Ndaboski was however seen in a video, refusing to pray for the sick Ada Jesus, who had gone to his church to ask for forgiveness and healing.
He vowed that her generations will suffer for the insults and lies against him, and
Edochie, who was also featured in the video and was heard vowing not to forgive the comedian too.
However, the young comedian suffered a Cardiac arrest in the night and was rushed to the intensive care unit of Zenith Medical & Kidney Centre, Abuja, where she died the following morning at 7:15 am.
Popular Kannywood actress, Zainab Booth, was popular in the Hausa movie industry for the motherly roles she played.
Booth died at the age of 61 after a brief illness on July 2, 2021.
Announcing her death via his verified Instagram page, Ali Nuhu wrote: “By Allah’s Grace, Haj Zainab Musa Booth has passed away.
“May Allah have mercy on her soul and make paradise her abode, amen.”
Hajiya Zainab Musa Booth is survived by four children and two grandchildren
Folake Aremu (Orisabunmi)
Nollywood lost another gem, Chief Mrs Folakemi Aremu a.k.a Orishabunmi, on January 4, 2021, at age 61.
The Kwara born actress died four months after the death of her ex-husband, Jimoh Aliu, popularly known as Aworo.
Announcing her passing, the President of the Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Mr Bolaji Amusan, popularly known as Mr Latin, said one of the shining lights of the movie industry, has been lost.
He said: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
“It is so sad we lost a Priceless Jewel, a very rare gem in the Nigerian Film Industry, Chief Mrs Folakemi Aremu aka Orishabunmi to the cold hands of death last night. She died at 61 after a brief illness at 11pm, Tuesday 4th, 2021.
Though good people die every day yet not all of them affirm for us the goodness in humanity the way Orishabunmi did. She passed away leaving a legacy of positive experiences for anyone who took the time to know her.
“If Oratory is the Masterful Art, the world will surely miss Orishabunmi for her talent. She was an orator who would perfectly chant eloquently with her resounding sonorous voice. Iya Oosha, we will surely miss you.”
Nollywood actress Ify Onwuemene, who was best known for her character as wife to the late veteran actor, Sam Loco Efe, in the 2000s TV series “Every Day People”, passed on May 26, 2021, after battling with endometrial cancer.
Her colleague in the movie industry, Gloria Anozie-Young, broke the news of her death via her Facebook page.
Giving details of the actress’ death, Anozie-Young wrote: “With a deep sense of loss but total submission to God Almighty, we regret to announce that IFEY ONWUEMENE has gone to be with the Lord.
IFEY ONWUEME was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Her womb was removed, but she has been battling the ailment for many years now.
In 2019, even after eight sessions of chemotherapy, the doctors told her she had reached stage 4. However, we are not sure if she was given the wrong diagnosis or being treated with the wrong chemo, because she still felt pains on her upper abdomen and her tummy was bloated.
Ify spent more than N10million, being helped with donations by her fellow actors and other Nigerians. A GoFundme account was opened for her, but it did not yield much. She had to go for draining every two weeks at a cost of N280,000, but only three litres of liquid can be removed at a time so that her heart is not affected.
“IFEY has finally gone to rest, today 25th May 2021. May her soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.”
The death of veteran actor, Chief Bruno Obinna Iwuoha, came as a rude shock to the Nollywood industry.
The Nigerian actor, best known for his signature afro grey hair, died in the early hours of Saturday April 10, 2021, at the National Hospital Abuja.
The late actor who has starred in numerous movies, won the Best Supporting Actor award at the 3rd Africa Movie Academy Awards for his performance in the movie Sins of the Flesh.
A statement signed by the Director of Communications, Actors Guild of Nigeria, Monalisa Chinda Coker, read: “It is on a sad note that we announce the passing away of our elder colleague and active member of AGN Abuja, Bruno Obinna Iwuoha.”
Iwuoha is survived by his wife and six children.
Actor, dancer and filmmaker, Abiodun Aleja, died at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) on May 21, 2021.
Before his death, he was reported to have been battling an undisclosed ailment.
He has produced and directed many movies and was known for his many diverse roles in movies including his role in Kunle Afolayan’s hit movie October 1.
The latest death to hit the Nollywood industry is that of veteran actor Sam Obiago.
Obiago, who hails from Delta State, was reported to have died in the wee hours of Thursday, December 23, 2021, after complaining of tiredness or weakness of the body.
Until his death, he was the chairman of Screen Writers Guild of Nigeria (SWGN), a filmmaker, and TV personality who has featured in over 100 Nollywood films.