Being 50 ordinarily is a landmark celebration. For Nollywood actress, Ngozi Nwosu, there may never be another celebration like it again considering a major health challenge, which could have marred her chance of attaining her golden jubilee. In this interview with MERCY MICHAEL, the Fuji House star actress, who was recently feted to a 3-in-1 party which was graced by top Nollywood celebrities, opens up on her ordeal, the lessons and life at 50.
HOW do you feel being 50?
I feel young. I’ve always felt young.
Nollywood has decided to fete you at 50. Will you say this is the best birthday you’ve had?
I think this should be the best really. Considering the circumstance, I thank God; I made it to 50, yeah. This should be the best.
When exactly was your birthday?
1st of August.
What did you do that morning?
That morning, I was not in Nigeria. I was in England. I had breakfast in bed – that was after my morning prayer. My girlfriend surprised me by serving me breakfast in bed. And I was like wow! I’ve never had that before. It was nice turning 50, you know (laughs).
Who were those who called to congratulate you?
From midnight, I started receiving calls from people, friends, my family in Nigeria.
Did you ever think you would get to 50?
Well, there was a time I thought I wouldn’t get to 50, but with God all things are possible. And I never gave up and here I am.
You look very pretty, how have you been able to get back to shape?
My dear, it is God. I just thank God.
Why did you conceal your health challenge for a long time?
I don’t think you were here when the doctor was educating us on health issues. As he rightly said, it is nice for you to voice out your problem on time. But to me I felt it was something I could handle on my own. It wasn’t as if I deliberately kept quiet. I was handling it on my own, thinking it will be over soon until God said, ‘no, my daughter, I think I will handle it the best way for you.’ And here I am today.
At a time, there were so many insinuations regarding your state of health. What was the worst thing that was said about you?
My dear, so many silly things; I don’t even want to think about it. I just want to thank God that I’m alive. And to them all, I just want to say thank you because either way they’ve contributed to making me strong and I thank God I’m still alive.
What are some of the lessons you’ve drawn from the experience?
Some of the lessons I have drawn from the experience; I’ve learnt to be myself, believe in God and always help the needy because you don’t know tomorrow. Nobody knows the tomorrow. Today it is my turn. It could be your turn tomorrow. I remember when I went for ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ to play a charity game to raise money for Samanger because his health was failing him.
I thank God I won one million naira for him. But the point is I didn’t know it would be my turn someday. I thank God that when I was called upon for that show I didn’t turn it down. I’ve also learnt that you should never trust in anyone but God because those you believe in will be those that will let you down and it has also shown me the amount of people or the kind of people that will come to your aid when you need them.
This is Africa where people desert you when you have problems. What was your experience in this regard?
I would rather not talk about it. To me, I’m 50, I’m enjoying it to the glory of God and all that is behind me now. They are in the past.
How many more years would you like to spend on earth?
My dear, God should just keep adding it and adding it until He says, ‘my daughter, you’ve finished your work on earth, come home.’
You were spotted recently at a location. Are you hale, hearty and ready to work?
Spotted at a location? No, I’ve only gone to Fuji House. And you know in Fuji House, I play a key role there and they’ve been waiting for me all along. And they’ve run out of episodes, so I had to be there to play a little of my part, just to tell people I’m still alive and I will be back on track, that was why I went to see them before I went back to England.
So, are you fully ready for work now?
Yes, yes, yes but I still need to rest. If at all I have to work now it’s not going to be fully. I’ve not gone back to work fully, no!
I learnt you were on location of Yaws and Mine, that was why I asked that question…
Before I went back to England for my treatment I was there just to see them, because I was actually supposed to be with them on the second season which I told them I couldn’t do at that time as I wasn’t fit to work. So I just went to tell them ‘well done, I’m still with you. I will be back.’
What are things that you cannot do now by virtue of your age and the health challenge you just overcame?
There is nothing I cannot do because of age now, but by virtue of health for now, if you notice you will see that my walking is not really smooth; that I use working stick. That is the only challenge I have for now. I still walk at a slow pace for now, but when I’m back to my normal Ngozi Nwosu certainly there will be nothing stopping me.
What is one special gift that you have received on your birthday?
Well, I have received the grace of God; that is the first special gift. God has given me back my life. I really thank God. I call it the second coming of Ngozi Nwosu. Then the second gift I have received is a wonderful gift of breakfast in bed by my girl friend in England because I had never received that before.
What is your greatest achievement?
What is your greatest desire from God?
I pray that God should give me long life, not like Metusellah, because I don’t want to live the life that you will be blind, you will be crippled and you will become a nuisance to the society. I want a live long life but I want to be fit; even if I’m 80, 90, or 100. That’s the kind of life I want.
What has life taught you?
Life is a decision and life is by choice.
So many things have changed since the time you travelled and now. You’ve gotten back to shape. How have you been able to achieve that?
I thank God. It is not by might, not by power.
Some of your colleagues who weren’t lucky to get financial assistance passed on, but you were lucky; you had the goodwill and the money came on time. What do you think can be done to prevent these health issues?
That is why I’m happy that my president, Ibinabo Fiberisema, came. I’m glad they now have a health scheme for thespians. I will encourage them to please hook on to that because life is too short. The things we think might be nothing could turn out to be something. I know that from the time I took ill till this time there are so many people that have dropped dead while I went to hell and I’m still standing. That is why I say God has given me a second chance.
Who are your childhood friends?
So many, they are there. Some are gone while some are still hanging in there.
How about in the industry?
Industry? I do not have friends.
When you are rich they are your friends, but when you’re not they are not your friend. Most of them are a flash in the pan.
What’s your take on Nollywood at present?
For now, I can’t say because I haven’t been working for two years. All this problem started with pile, so for almost a year I couldn’t do anything. I was battling with the pile until finally I had an operation and just when I was being myself back, I did one or two jobs before the kidney thing started.
So really I cannot say the state, but from what I am seeing, I think Nollywood is higher yeah! But I want to quickly point out that our script writers are not doing enough work, because most of what I was watching while I was resting were based on one story copied from one English movie or the other, and before you say Jack Robinson you know where it is going to end and I don’t find that interesting.
When it comes to your health, what are the things you want to do differently?
I have learnt that there are so many things you don’t take and especially when one is aging, it is important that you get hooked to a doctor and seek advice because it’s only a doctor and a nutritionist that can actually educate you on what to do and how to take care of yourself properly.
There is the notion that kidney diseases most times have a lot to do with alcohol intake. What is your take on this?
I don’t think it has to do with alcohol. Let’s just pray that we should not be sick. There are so many people out there, even kids that have kidney problems, do kids take alcohol? So it doesn’t have to do with alcohol. Though it may have something to do with it, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with it. Like I said, let’s just pray not to be sick.
What else would you wish for in life?
I wish for the best things of life. In fact, I just wish somebody will come and park the latest car in my house now because this one that we are talking is talk, talk. Somebody should come and park the best car in my house and build a house for me. I don’t want to be like the Nigerian flag designer who almost died before they recognised him. Yes, o! When they are talking about Nollywood, I thank God I’m still alive. I am part of those who made it what it is today.
Your health challenge as it was then made you trend in the media like never before, even till now you are still trending. Would you say it’s a blessing in disguise?
Yes, a big one. It’s a blessing, my dear. To those who felt this was the end of Ngozi Nwosu, I just want to tell them: this is the beginning of Ngozi Nwosu.