Veteran actor, Jimmy Johnson, who played the role of ‘Okoro’ in the 80s NTA TV series ‘The Village Headmaster’, is dead.
In a statement on behalf of the family, Rotimi Sankore, son of the deceased, said the 80-year-old writer and broadcaster died on Wednesday.
According to the statement, Johnson breathed his last at an Abuja hospital after suffering complications from surgery.
It added that his “burial arrangements will be announced soon in line with COVID-19 protocols.”
Johnson rode to prominence for his role as Okoro in ‘The Village Headmaster’, a series of the Nigeran Television Authority (NTA) in the 1980s.
The late media personality christened Jimy J by colleagues started his foray into drama and theatre arts in Ibadan in the early 1960s with Orisun Theatre Company and the Mbari Artistes and Writers Club — a diverse group of university lecturers, writers, visual artists, musicians and actors that included Wole Soyinka, Ulli Beier, Chinua Achebe and Christopher Okigbo.
After Nigeria’s civil war, which lasted between 1967-1970, Johnson was instrumental to the country’s reconstruction agenda.
He worked as an information and culture officer in the civil service while he and his colleagues also collaborated to rebuild a national identity for radio, television, film and theatre.
In 1984, he was incarcerated alongside many politicians and senior civil servants in Ikoyi Prison and was acquitted by the Muhammadu Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon military regime after the overthrow of President Shagari’s government.
The statement quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as commending his contributions to the country’s media landscape during one of his birthdays before his death.
Buhari was said to have described him “as one of the pioneers of TV drama in Nigeria and a respected thespian,” adding that his “contribution to the movie industry, which ranks second in the world, remains indelible.”
The president had also landed his “sacrifice, patriotism and loyalty to his country and his calling, starting out early on stage and the screen when rewards were very minimal, but pursuing his career with relentless passion and vigour”.
He is survived by his wife, children, and grand-children. The movie star’s death comes two years after Tunde Johnson, his first son, passed away.