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2023: Wins, losses in Nigeria’s entertainment industry

The entertainment industry enjoyed its fair share of victories and challenges in 2023. In this weekend magazine feature, Daily Trust Saturday highlights the top and…

The entertainment industry enjoyed its fair share of victories and challenges in 2023. In this weekend magazine feature, Daily Trust Saturday highlights the top and low moments of the industry, and also pays regards to TV stars we will miss on our screens.


Gone but not forgotten


The untimely death of musician, Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as MohBad, on September 12, 2023, saddened many Nigerians. During his stint in the music industry following his debut, the 27-year-old singer brought us hit after hit. His charming tunes and laid-back manner during interviews would be remembered.

Cynthia Okereke

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Well-known actress, Cynthia Okereke, died early this year. She was 63 years old. She would be remembered for her iconic appearances in films throughout the years, particularly in the always-funny Osuofia in London. Among many other films, she starred in Reggae Boys, Nwando, the classic A Fool at Forty, and Katakata. Many were surprised by Okereke’s passing.

Usman Pategi

One of the stars we will miss on TV is Kannywood superstar, Usman Pategi, who rose to fame as Samanja in the now-rested NTA drama series, Samanja, in the 1980s. He was born on May 20, 1942, and died in November, 2023. Theatre consultant, Husseini Shaibu, announced his death on his Facebook page.

Femi Ogunrobi

Our early years might have been very different if we hadn’t met the hilarious Papa Ajasco. We also bid goodbye to Femi Ogunrombi, who played Papa Ajasco. He died in January, 2023, and his death was publicised in a tweet by theatre practitioner and journalist, Shaibu Husseini.

Aminu Bono

Kannywood also mourned the death of one of its prominent directors and actors, Aminu Bono. A friend and colleague of the late actor, Babangida Bangis, revealed that the actor passed away on November 16, 2023.

According to Bangis, the director “collapsed” and was brought to the hospital, where medical professionals pronounced him dead. The actor was buried the next day in accordance with Muslim customs. Following his passing, former Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and many Kanywood actors, sent their condolences.

Aminu Mohammed

This year also saw the passing of Kannywood star, Aminu Mohammed, well known for playing Kawu Mala in the hit television series, “Dadin Kowa.”

The actor, who starred in numerous Kannywood productions, passed away on May 7, 2023, following a protracted battle with a cardiac condition. He is survived by his wife and 10 children.

Don Brymo Uchegbu

Known for his roles as a royal, legendary actor, Don Brymo Uchegbu, passed away after slumping on a film shoot in the capital of Rivers State, Port-Harcourt. He died after being taken to the hospital in a critical condition due to hypertension.

Saint Obi

Following a protracted struggle with illness, Obinna Nwafor, affectionately known as Saint Obi, a well-known Nollywood actor and film director, passed away on May 6, 2023, at the age of 57 at his sister’s house in Jos, Plateau State. With years of consistent blockbusters, the legendary actor was highly regarded by his followers and made a lasting impression in Nollywood.

Adedigba Mukaila

The Yoruba Nollywood industry was also dealt a major setback when prominent actor, Adedigba Mukaila, popularly known as Sikiru Adeshina, died on May 13, 2023. The actor, Kunle Afod, shared the news of his passing on social media. Yoruba cinema fans loved Adegbigba. Therefore, it was shocking to hear of his death.

2023 wins, losses in nigeria’s entertainment industry
2023 wins, losses in nigeria’s entertainment industry


Murphy Afolabi

When it comes to cherished Yoruba performers who have departed, Murphy Afolabi’s timeless performance is one we will never forget. He gave his all to his parts, and his death was also unexpected. Nollywood’s grief was made worse at the moment when Afolabi passed away on May 14, 2023, at the same time as Adedigba Mukaila and Saint Obi. After his death was disclosed, Afolabi’s coworkers, admirers and loved ones went into mourning.

Oluyemi Lawrence Adeyemi, aka Suara

This year also saw the death of Pa Yemi Adeyemi, also known as Suara. Adetoun Adeyemi, his son, made the announcement in a statement on September 25. His influential career will live on, particularly for his iconic portrayal of Saura in the beloved television series, Super Story: Oh Father! Oh Daughter. In this role, he played a polygamist who had Sola Sobowale and Bukky Wright as his first and second wives.

Highest grossing movies of 2023

A Tribe Called Judah – N400m

With an astounding N400m made in its first 12 days of release in theatres, Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele’s, latest film production, “A Tribe Called Judah,” ascended to become the highest-grossing film of 2023. This latest triumph followed Akindele’s earlier achievement with “Battle on Buka Street” which, based on figures from the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), brought in N640m over nine weeks at the box office, making it the second-highest grossing film of 2022.

Orisa – N127m

The Yoruba epic, which will be released in theatres across the country on July 21, 2023, follows the story of a monarch who begins to lose respect for the gods and his people, putting the kingdom at jeopardy. With a first week gross of N27.6m, it broke the record for the highest grossing Nollywood film, as well as the greatest epic opening of the year, despite competition from Hollywood blockbusters, Barbie and Oppenheimer. The CEAN box office records showed that Orisa grossed N127.89m after running for 14 weeks in theatres around the country.

Merry Men 3 – N117m

Following the success of the first two titles in the franchise, Merry Men 3 is produced by comedian, Ay Makun. With Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons setting a record N235,628,358 in 2018 and Merry Men 2: Another Mission reaching a cumulative total of N234,505,169, the Merry Men franchise is well-known for consistently shattering the biggest gross records. This time, after just four weeks at Nigerian theatres, the second sequel, which debuted on October 13, 2023, brought inN100m. Additionally, as of December 3, 2023, the CEAN reported that the criminal comedy had made N117,836,230 in total revenue, which is the second-highest amount to date.

Kesari – N78m

In just two weeks following its cinematic premiere, the Yoruba epic brought in a total ofN41.8 million after an incredible first week that nearly surpassed Orisa’s record. Kesari, which was produced by Ibrahim Yekini, is the second Yoruba epic to rank among the biggest grossing films of 2023, making this an intriguing period for indigenous films. After 11 weeks of screening, it made its premiere on August 25, 2023, and ended with a gross ofN78,106, 925.

Something like Gold – N60m

The film tells the story of a woman who discovers love again after being rejected at her wedding, and is produced by first-time features film producer, Sandra Okunzuwa, who also plays the lead role. As of December 3, 2023, Something like Gold, which continues to run in theatres across the country, had earned N60.1m, making it this year’s highest-grossing romantic drama.

Top Kannywood web series of 2023


Alaqa is a web series produced and directed by the popular Kannywood actor, Ali Nuhu, dubbed as the King of Kannywood. The series is centered on a family feud, crime and friendship. The series garnered a lot of viewership on YouTube. It is a story about the family of late Hamad Luluwa, championed by his elder son, Audu Luluwa, trying his best to compete and destroy the success, business empire and family of Alhaji Alfindiki (Tahir Fage)


Labarina is one of the most popular Hausa television shows. Many people believe it to be the greatest Hausa series movie ever made. The film is directed by the well-known Hausa cinema filmmaker, Aminu Saira. Many notable Kanywood actors and actresses appear in the series. The two most well-known actors and actresses in the series are Nafisa Abdullahi, popularly known as Sumayyah, and Nuhu Abdullahi, also known as Mahmud.

Dan Jarida

Dan Jarida is another series produced by Abubakar Bashir Maishadd and directed by a veteran director, Hafiz Bello. The story is about a journalist (Amal Umar) that was killed by an influential politician (Kumurci) after she saw him setting someone ablaze. The politician who is seen as a good man and is contesting for a senate seat then sets out to cover his bad side which is captured and saved in one flash drive. The movie sees one of the biggest villain actors, Abale, acting as a good journalist.

Manyan Mata

Manyan Mata is one the biggest Kannywood series that casts almost all the major senior Kannywood actors. However, some critics have accused the series of promoting feminism in core Northern Nigeria. The movie is aired on Arewa24 and YouTube, where a group known as Manyan Mata under Hadiza Gabon and Aisha Tsamiya (later replaced by Rabiatu Suleiman Kurfi) are fighting against gender abuse, discrimination and social injustice. As the movie unfolds, a crisis starts between them, and things start falling apart. The series is produced by Abdul Amart and directed by Sadiq N. Mafia.

Top music albums of 2023

Timeless – Davido

Following the first-ever break from music in his 10-year career as a prolific hit maker, Davido made a triumphant comeback with his eagerly awaited fourth album, “Timeless”. The album broke numerous first-day and first-week African streaming records on key streaming platforms, leading to an unprecedented commercial success. The album features several successes, including the widely popular songs, “Feel”, “Unavailable”, “No Competition” and “Kante”. Davido released a critically lauded album on his fourth effort, earning him three Grammy nods.

Work of Art – Asake

Asake, encouraged by his previous success and confidence in his reputation opted to stay with the same style that made him famous. He exploited his status to share something, knowing that whatever he provided would be gratefully received. The album extended Asake’s unparalleled mainstream run in 2022, with the lead track, Lonely, at the top, enjoying tremendous chart supremacy. With Work of Art, Asake cemented his incredible reputation and topped it off with his first-ever Grammy nomination for Best African Music Performance, thanks to the success of his collaboration with Olamide on the smash song, “Amapiano”.

Eziokwu – Odumodublvck

The popular success of Odumodublvck is embodied in his most recent work, Eziokwu, which he referred to as a “mixtape”. Even though the majority of the project was created prior to his widespread fame, his ascent has given it a level of commercialism that mixtapes aren’t typically associated with. Odumodublvck masterfully presents a range of Hip Hop songs on Eziokwu, easily defined with his own style and lively personality.

When it Blooms – Nonso Amadi

Fans who have followed Nonso’s path will recognise When It Blooms as a familiar journey that showcases a significant portion of the skill they have long known he possessed and have been eager for the remainder of the world to see. The album invites new listeners to embark on a journey to discover new delights, all the while relying on Nonso as a trustworthy guide. Nonso creates an album of exquisite music that delves into themes of love, desire, grief, growth and thankfulness. With a refined stream of mind, dependability and accomplished collaborations, he accepts his Western ideas and harmonises them with his Nigerian roots to create a magnificent record.

Thy Kingdom Come – Seyi Vibez

Seyi Vibez has released four projects in the last eight months, but Thy Kingdom Come is where he sounds the most assured and unwavering in his abilities. This is probably due to his trust and energy. Seyi Vibes expanded the boundaries of his abilities with Thy Kingdom Come, an album that takes Apala exploration to a whole new level. In Thy Kingdom Come, Seyi Vibez displays a mature and self-assured artistic style as he declares himself the “man of the year”, but he also makes it obvious that there is room in the sky for more than one, implying that he plans to put the competition that helped bring him to mainstream fame behind him.

Prominent Nollywood, Kannywood actors of 2023


Abba, also known as Daddy Hikima, whose original name is Adam Abubakar Adam, is one of the actors whose star is shining.  Abale, who is a registered nurse, has been into the industry working behind the camera either as continuity or location manager. However, since his blockbuster thuggish role in A Duniya, Abale is now a sought-after actor that is acting in many big and highly budgeted movies. He has appeared in A Duniya, his own movie, Sanda, Labarina, Dan Jarida and many more, and in most cases acts the lead role.

Tobi Bakre

The former Big Brother Naija contestant has been consistently impressive since his standout performance as Andy in Sugar Rush. This year, he took on two captivating roles that left audiences in awe. First, as Obalola in Jade Osiberu’s Gangs of Lagos, he showcases his talent for playing the “bad boy” character, reminiscent of his role in Brotherhood (2022). Then he portrays Edafe Majemijesu Umukoro in Slum King, a vengeful man seeking retribution for his family’s tragedy. Remarkably, he manages to keep the audience engaged with both distinct characters. To top it off, his outstanding performance in Brotherhood earned him the Best Actor in a Drama (Movie/TV Series) at this year’s African Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Kehinde Bankole

Biodun Stephen’s “Sista” created a nostalgic impact across the nation upon its June release. Bankole’s portrayal of the main character, Sista, has a lasting impression, as she convincingly embodies the role of an illiterate with determination and principles that endear her to the audience. Whether interacting with other characters or portraying the role of an illiterate mother, Sista serves as a timely reminder of Bankole’s acting prowess and depth as a performer.

Momme Gombe

Mommee Gombe, whose real name is Mainuna Abubakar, is arguably the Kannywood star actress of the moment. The diva started her career as a dancer in the popular Tamil group under the mentorship of director, Sanusi Oscar 442. After the success of Hamisu Breakers music video of “Jarumar Mata” which was directed by Sanusi Oscar 442 in 2019, the actress has grown to be sought by many filmmakers. Currently, she acts the lead role in Alaqa by Ali Nuhu and Gidan Sarauta by Abubakar Bashir Maishadda. She’s also in Manyan Mata by Abdul Amart and other blockbuster movies and series.

Chidi Mokeme

The actor officially made a comeback to the big screen with the Netflix series, “Shanty Town”, after a five-year hiatus from acting. In the story, the typical villain is usually disliked, but this is not the case with Scar, the character played by the actor. Despite Scar being dark and brutal, his role adds excitement and plays a crucial part in holding the story together. From the visible scars covering his body to consistent actions and mannerisms throughout the film, it’s challenging to pinpoint a particular scene as the ultimate success. Taking a break from acting for such an extended period is noteworthy, but coming back with a demanding and defining role like Scar demonstrates that the veteran actor’s skills remain intact despite the prolonged silence.

Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD)

He began the year as Chief Fernandez, the powerful political figure in control of Shanty Town. Then he transformed into the formidable Paul Edima in Editi Effiong’s The Black Book. Embarking on a quest for justice for his wrongly accused deceased son, RMD showcases a different facet of his acting skills. Unlike his usual intense marital roles, his portrayal of a smart and strategic villain adds a unique dimension. People have debated on their favorite scenes featuring Paul, but there’s no denying that RMD’s nuanced performances throughout are captivating.

Rukky Alim

Rukayya Ahmad Aliyu, popularly known as Rukky Alim, is one of the new faces of Kannywood. She started her career in a relatively low key, but she is now considered among the top actresses. She acted in some best movies such as Sanda, Haram, Alaqa and others. The Jalingo-born diva once told Daily Trust she was lucky to have always played the major role in most of her movies.

Artistes who won international awards in 2023


Rema is undoubtedly one of the artistes who had an amazing run in 2023.  Following his “Calm Down” remix with Selena Gomez, the artiste won the 2023 Billboard Music Award for Top Afrobeats song, 2023 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Afrobeats Song and  2023 Trace Awards for Song of the Year and Best Global African Artiste.

Burna Boy

Burna Boy also had an impressive run in 2023. Although securing four nominations at the 2023 BET awards, the artiste won the award for Best International Act. He also won the 2023 Trace Album of the Year Award for his “Love Damini” project. He also secured four nominations in the upcoming Grammy awards.


Davido’s “Timeless” was indeed a timeless album. Released in March, 2023, the melodic tunes stuck in the memories of his audience and still remain “banger” at the end of the year. The album’s success earned Davido the 2023 Trace award for Best Collaboration for Unavailable with Musa Keys of South Africa, and Best Male Artiste.

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