In a heartrending tribute to the late and beloved actor, Obinna Nwafor, also known as Saint Obi renowned and multi-award-winning filmmaker Zik Zulu Okafor, made a profound observation. According to Okafor, it was the late actor’s marriage that precipitated his untimely death and led him to distance himself from the vibrant world of Nollywood.
As Okafor recounted, in his farewell address dedicated to the late actor and shared on social media, Saint Obi’s (Obinna Nwafor) divorce from his ex-wife, Lynda Saint-Nwafor, was a significant turning point in his life, which he believes played a role in Saint Obi’s premature passing.
Okafor painted a vivid picture of Saint Obi, who became somewhat of a recluse following the breakdown of his marriage. The once lively and engaging actor began to detach himself from his Nollywood colleagues and drifted away from the industry that once brought him fame and recognition.
In Okafor’s words, Saint Obi’s life was a study of contrasts. To the outside world, he portrayed a suave and cool demeanor, his strong masculine presence was striking. On-screen, he masterfully amplified his idiosyncrasies, seamlessly shifting between roles of heroics and romantic escapades. Yet, beneath this façade, Saint Obi lived a life of solitude, often punctuated by feelings of insecurity and timidity. His preference for low-key, peaceful gatherings among a small circle of friends was an aspect of his personality that often went unnoticed by the public.
However, Okafor questioned whether Saint Obi truly lived the calm and fulfilling life he yearned for, expressing his doubts. He recounted Saint Obi’s life with a sense of poignant sadness, as he observed how the actor’s rise to stardom paradoxically led him to his heartache. This fame and recognition brought Saint Obi his financially strong and influential wife, but their marriage, Okafor noted, significantly altered the trajectory of his life.
Their union was swift, almost abrupt, and it left many of Saint Obi’s closest friends, who had accompanied him through his professional journey, in the dark. This marriage marked the beginning of a growing rift between Saint Obi and his friends, which further widened with each passing year. The actor’s life seemed to be on an upward trajectory – he was often seen driving luxurious cars, he dressed impeccably, and his radiant skin was a testament to his physical well-being. Yet, despite his outward success, there was a palpable distance growing between him and his Nollywood comrades.
This distance was not merely emotional but professional as well. Saint Obi, once a prominent figure in Nollywood, began to withdraw from the industry following his marriage. His acting career, which might have been his true calling, was put on hold, as he shifted his focus toward different business ventures and behind-the-scenes work. This decision, though made six years prior to his passing, raised concerns among his friends, including Okafor.
The cracks in his marriage became apparent a few years later, leading to his eventual return to his peers in Nollywood. However, this return was marked by a sense of disappointment among some of his colleagues. Around the same time, the rumors about the problems in his marriage began to surface, and Saint Obi, though generally a private person, felt the need to share his troubles. He expressed his hurt at being perceived as a gold digger by his wife’s family and lamented the lack of support from his wife during these confrontations.
The problems in his marriage escalated, leading to physical violence from his wife’s brothers, and eventually, the end of his marriage. Following this tumultuous period, Saint Obi left his marital home, embarking on a journey of self-reconstruction without his wife and children. His wife, using her financial influence, defended her siblings and initiated a divorce proceeding in a distant location, further complicating matters for Saint Obi.
The actor fell ill around mid-last year and chose to bear his suffering in solitude, selling his possessions to take care of his medical bills and maintain a source of income. He yearned for his children during this difficult period, and his health continued to deteriorate.
In early 2023, Okafor ran into a frail and aged-looking Saint Obi, a stark contrast from his previously vibrant self. A few months later, Saint Obi left for Jos to stay with his sister, without informing his friends. His health took a turn for the worse, leading him to reach out to a mutual friend in the US, asking for prayers.
Saint Obi passed away on May 7, leaving the Nollywood industry and his friends in a state of shock and grief. In his final conversation with Okafor, he shared his struggle with illness and the pain of being away from his children. His life, as Okafor observed, was a tragic tale of a creative genius who found himself lost and lonely.
As Okafor concluded his tribute, he extended his condolences and prayers for the departed soul, a once shining star of Nollywood, who left an indelible mark on the industry and the hearts of those who knew him.