By Eseoghene Emuke
The Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide and the Governor of Delta State have described the death of veteran actress, Chief Rachel Oniga, as a big loss to the Nigerian movie industry and to the Urhobo Nation.
Chief Oniga, a renowned movie star, hailed from Eku in Agbon Kingdom of Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta. She died on Friday in Lagos.
She was 64. She starred in over one hundred films during her active career which commenced in 1993.
The late actress was also a traditional chief of the great Agbon Kingdom of Delta State.
Reacting to her death, UPU, the apex socio-cultural umbrella body of Urhobo ethnic nationality of Niger Delta, said Oniga’s demise had robbed the Urhobo people of one of its respected stars.
A statement signed by UPU National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Abel Osheviri, on behalf of its President General, Olorogun Moses Taiga, added that the deceased used her talent to positively promote the rich culture of the Urhobo people and the Niger Delta region.
“The news has left the National Executive Council of UPU, led by Olorogun (Dr) Moses O. Taiga, JP; in deep shock, for Rachael Oniga was an icon, a great cultural ambassador and heroine of the Urhobo Nation.
“A traditional chief of Agbon Kingdom, she was one of the biggest stars of all time. She was a brilliant actress and professional to the core. Rachael Oniga brought joy, happiness and fun to millions of lives across the globe with her legendary artistry and sense of emotion and perfection that she brought to whatever character she was cast to play in a movie or soap opera.
“As our daughter, we are proud of her achievements during her lifetime. Despite her celebrity status, she proudly identified with her heritage and passionately projected and propagated Urhobo ideals and philosophies. She was a cultural activist and a role model, who carried herself with respect and dignity. She was a great pride to the Urhobo Nation.
“We thank her for sharing her unforgettable talent with all of us. She will be greatly missed”, the statement added.
The statement, while expressing UPU’s deepest condolences to the Oniga family, her Eku Community of Agbon Kingdom, the Nollywood Community and millions of her fans worldwide, it prayed for the reposed of her soul.
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Similarly, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has commiserated with the Oniga family, Urhobo nation and Nollywood over the passing of veteran actress.
Okowa, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, said Oniga’s death was a big loss to the state and Nigeria at large.
The governor said the deceased contributed immensely to the “revolution” of the Nigerian movie industry, adding that Nollywood veteran would be greatly missed by all.
The governor said “on behalf of the government and people of Delta, I offer my deepest condolences to Oniga family and friends, including Nollywood community where the late veteran movie actress featured prominently as a matriach.
“The late Rachael Oniga was one of the country’s iconic movie actresses and was reputed to have featured in over 50 films during her career.
“She was indeed, a household name and a pride of our State. She will be greatly missed by movie lovers and Deltans.
“It is my belief that the late Rachael Oniga will be long remembered and honoured for her good interpretation of movie roles and for the formation and growth of Nollywood.”
On his part, renowned comedian, Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome, as known as Ali Baba, described the late Rachel Oniga as one who ‘fought a good fight’.
Ali Baba, who also hails from Urhobo, recalled fond memorable moments he shared with the deceased.
The tribute posted on his verified Instagram handle, Akpobome, wrote, “okpako me… ke tionye? You always, always demanded your butu. “Ali, e don tey wey I see you. So as we dey this event so, every time you see me, just dey butu. No deny me my rights. Unless you want make I fine you.”
I remember you when I called out “Etarakpobuno” at Abegi and you told the person with you, “Eni to pe mi loruko said yen, momi dele”. When you found out it was me, I paid a fine. But you still were very happy to hear your real name mentioned.
“You always called and after all the greetings, you will ask, ‘Ali, Kemarvo ocha dia?’ And when I respond, you always replied in Yoruba. ‘Olorun Aje Koje be’.
“Rest on. You fought a good fight.”