…And veteran actress, Bukky Ajayi, goes home fulfilled


As she mounted the podium on March 5, this year, to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at the fourth edition of the Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Award, she wept. It was, however, tears of joy.
Aunty Bukky Ajayi, as she was fondly called in the showbiz circle, didn’t expect the standing ovation she received from the crowd at the AMVCA. It was an emotional moment for her and people who were closely watching.
She said, “You all standing for me? If I stand up, I will fall down. That is why I’m sitting down.”
The veteran actress, who received the award on a wheelchair, added, “I just want to say to all my friends and non-friends – thank you very much, you do not know what this award means to me. If I have offended you in one way or the other, please find it in your heart to forgive me. And if you think you have offended me, don’t worry, I have forgiven you a long time ago. I am very happy from the bottom of my heart. I say thank you.”
Her show of gratitude was the major highlight of the night and people kept talking about her on social media days after the ceremony. Though, it was also glaring that most people had forgotten her until the recognition the award brought.
The 2016 AMVCA was her last public outing before the cold fingers of death took her away. The news of her death broke on Wednesday morning.
Though, she was more popular as an actress, Ajayi started as a broadcaster many years ago. She veered into acting after featuring in the ‘Village Headmaster’ in the 70’s and later got a role in Amaka Igwe’s ‘Checkmate’. If she were to be granting an interview at this moment, she must have lost count of the films she starred in. She played in many great movies.
On Thursday, June 23, Mofe Damijo put out some sweet words about the late Bukky Ajayi. With a photograph they took together, RMD took to his Instagram handle and said, “One of the sweetest persons I know on the face of this earth. Ever smiling, young at heart, ageless and most gracious and graceful Aunty Bukky Ajayi. My personal person…My very own…”
As if they also saw her death was near, on June 15, a group of Nollywood’s stars paid a visit to the veteran actress at her home in Surulere, Lagos. They included Joke Silva, Uzor Osimkpa, Chika Chukwu, Rita Dominic, Kate Henshaw, Nichole Banna, Seun Ajayi and Zara Udofia Ejoh.Quotation One of the visitors, Seun Ajayi, told The Point that the visit was an educative one, most especially for the younger actors who didn’t have the opportunity of working with her.
He stated, “Other senior colleagues of mine, who have worked with her on different projects such as Kate Henshaw and Aunty Joke Silva spoke to us about her. They said she started as a newscaster and did theatre as well. She actually inspired Aunty Joke to venture into movie making. She had a surging energy on the day and told us a few stories about Nigerian film industry and how easy things are now for the younger ones. She practically took us back to history and we really enjoyed her company. We spent, at least, two hours with her.”
According to the young actress, it is so unfortunate that she had to leave this world the way she did, but she had left a lasting legacy.
“I pray God to give the family the strength to bear the irreplaceable loss. She was an icon. I never had the opportunity to work with her, but when I introduced myself as an Ajayi as well, she was excited”.
She noted that they were just a group of actors, who felt it was right to honour her on that day.
“We wanted to celebrate her while she was alive and make her happy for a day. When I heard the news of her death, I was glad we did. You know in Nigeria, we only celebrate people after death. She really appreciated the visit,” Ajayi stressed.
Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, another veteran actress, admitted that the late Bukky Ajayi had been performing before she ventured into showbiz.
She recalled, “When she came back from England, she started as a newscaster on Nigerian Television Authority. She was already there before the likes of Bimbo Oloyede. The news of her death came as a great shock to me. She was a very responsible woman.”
Ajai-Lycett noted that she saw her last at the AMVCA in March at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, adding that it didn’t occur to her that it would be the last time. “She was a giant in her field and one of the true pioneers of Nollywood.”
She, however, lamented that the society only appreciated people they see, describing it as pitiful.
She said, “The people who inform the society are the journalists, people like you. You are supposed to be pushing all these people into limelight, but you are not doing much of that. The media is going after people who are projecting themselves and making noise. But for the people who have done something great, the media hardly remember them. How can government do anything when the media is not doing anything to project these people? Government usually act on the recommendations the media give. When was the last time you profiled her as a journalist?”
Ajai-Lycett felt good that she was celebrated at the last edition of the AMVCA since it was her immediate constituency.
“On that night, Aunty Bukky was happy that we still remembered her. I am very glad that she knew she was treasured and important to us before she left. She knew that her constituency recognsied and respected her. If I were in her position, it was enough to make me to feel emotional. At 82, while they were giving out award, they remembered an old person like me,” she maintained.
The late Ajayi clocked 82 years on Monday, February 2 and was a guest to a small celebration by her children at her home in Lagos.