By Azuh Arinze
We learn everyday. And the latest lesson I just learnt is never to allow any issue—whether minor or major, but especially when not life-threatening—to linger unnecessarily between you and your close friends. If star actor, Saint Obi and I had quickly resolved that minor issue, of course, concerning his family, I would have known that he had taken ill. Sadly, it was the same merciless illness that eventually claimed his life. So, I blame myself and will continue to regret that.
I also would like to dole out portions of the blame to Saint and his wife Linda for their inability to amicably resolve their differences as a couple. As a friend to both of them, but especially Saint, everything would have been better managed and handled. Saint had his shortcomings, like all mortals. Same with Linda. The mother of three, however, is not what some people are currently projecting and portraying her to be all over the social media. At least, I sat and listened to both parties before things got out of hand. But I digress.
Back to my friend and brother, Obinna Nwafor, aka Saint Obi. For the record, we met over 25 years ago and instantly hit it off. As private as he was, there were very few major things he did without informing me. Yes, we were that close. Which explains why those who knew the depth of our relationship and closeness, both in and out of Nollywood, kept my phones busy as the news of his shocking demise permeated and pervaded the country.
Undoubtedly therefore, I was one of his closest friends. In fact, in my ranking, I should be among the top 3 until death did its worst on Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Jos, Plateau State. Saint was standing behind me like the Rock of Gibraltar 18 years ago when I got married to my wife Edith in Nnewi, Anambra State (for the traditional) and also the church wedding in Lagos. He attended all the events we organized from the inception of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine, including the unveiling on June 19, 2011. We visited each other’s homes a couple of times. And to cap it up, for years, he graciously and gladly maintained a fortnightly column in YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine called STARK NAKED just to support my new venture.
We also exchanged calls and text messages innumerable times. I was among the very, very few people he informed about his traditional marriage to the then Miss Linda Amobi in Anambra State. I was among his highly exclusive guests at the dedication of his first son. Even his mother’s burial was witnessed by just myself, my younger brother Amatus and maybe two or three other friends. We were in the same room, actually. All these details are just to attest to our relationship. You can, therefore, imagine what I’m currently going through. In fact, as true as his death is, I’m yet to fully come to terms with the fact that my friend Saint Obi is dead! Never to be seen again until the day of resurrection. In my tears and grief, here are a few things I will forever cherish and remember about my guy, with whom we used to precede every of our discussion with “On A Very Good Day…”
1. He was 6’2 tall and a very cool guy.
2. His real name was Obinna Nwafor, even though he was popularly known as Saint Obi. He told me he opted for Saint because of his selflessness.
3. His major acting influences were Sean Connery and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
4. One of the first major roles that pushed him out was as Mark Alade in Zeb Ejiro’s Goodbye Tomorrow. He acted in the movie alongside Hilda Dokubo.
5. He was born 57 years ago in Jos, where incidentally he also died. But obviously won’t be buried.
6. He was the only son of Melford (he died at 87) and Millicent, a fashion designer, who died after a brave battle with Alzheimer’s disease. They hailed from Ogwa, Mbaitolu, Imo State.
7. His major regret was not having a kid brother, even though he had eight sisters.
8. Unknown to many, he started acting in 1988 in Behind The Clouds, a soap opera being shot then in Jos.
9. He initially worked for NIPOST and later as a model before finally settling for acting, where he found fame and a measure of fortune.
10. He had a company called Agwhite Entertainment Network, and they engaged in film distribution, productions, documentaries, etc.
11. His favorite food was eba, egusi and turkey.
12. He attended St. Paul’s Township School, Jos; Zang Secondary Commercial School, Jos and then University of Jos where he read Theatre Arts and graduated in 1991.
13. He was married to Linda Saint-Nwafor, a top shot at MTN Nigeria and the union is blessed with three children: two boys and a girl.
14. He cherished his privacy so much, spoke very little and rarely hobnobbed.
15. Among his memorable movies are Goodbye Tomorrow, Time Bomb, State of Emergency, Executive Crime, Deadly Proposal, Felony, Sakobi, Never Again, Take Me To Maama, etc.
16. He has an eye-popping white country home in Ogwa as well as a recreational park in front of it.
17. He was a dependable and fiercely focused fellow. I remember him telling me back then to give him maximum media support, promising never to forget that when blessed by God. And that was exactly what happened. As he stood by me every step of the way.
Lastly and most importantly, with this outpouring of love and admiration, how do we, Saint Obi’s friends, in collaboration with his Nollywood constituency, give him a befitting burial first and foremost? How do we immortalize him and his good works? Also, what can we do to support his children?
While awaiting your responses, here, one more time, is wishing Saint Obi a favourable time with his Maker.
Thanks so much for your love and friendship and adieu, nwannem!
Azuh Arinze is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine and author of bestselling books like The CEO’s Bible 1 & 2, Success Is Not Served A La Carte, A Taste Of Success, etc.