On 3 March 2021, veteran Nigerian actor and broadcaster Sadiq Abubakar Daba passed on. He died after a protracted battle with leukaemia and prostate cancer. In November 2017, Daba went public with his illness and insisted that the announcement was not borne out of a need for pity. On the contrary, he held on to hope, which was evident in his words: “My friend, I will be fine. My covenant with God is that I will not die.”
Sadiq Daba was born in 1952. He had his secondary school education at St. Edward’s Secondary School in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He returned to Nigeria for his tertiary education and attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, Kaduna State. He began his career in broadcasting as a news anchor, reporter, and editor for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)—a career that lasted 35 years.
In an October 2017 interview with TheCable Lifestyle, Sadiq Daba revealed that his foray into broadcasting had not been deliberate. “I just wanted to come back and see where my father came from and that is Nigeria,” he said. “That is the sole reason why I came back home. Getting into broadcasting in Nigeria was purely perchance, by mistake.”
In the late ’70s, Daba came to limelight when he starred as Bitrus in the NTA-produced drama series Cock Crow at Dawn. According to Control TV, “owing to the weight of his [Daba] performance, Bitrus has become unforgettable, permanently crested, etched into the memories of those opportune to be of age to watch the show.”
An opportunity to witness Daba’s performance as an actor availed itself for younger Nigerians when he played the lead character in the Kunle Afolayan-directed, Colonial Nigeria-set psychological thriller October 1 (2014).
As Inspector Danladi Waziri, a police officer from Northern Nigeria sent to a remote village in Western Nigeria to investigate a series of female murder cases, Sadiq Daba shines. He delivers a performance of calculated restraint, captivating with his elder statesman aura and flair for uncovering clues.
For that performance, Daba won the 2015 Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actor. At the ceremony in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, he gave an emotion-laden acceptance speech, stating that years of hard work had culminated into his moment of glory.
Daba’s other films and soap operas including Behind the Clouds (mid 80s), The Village Headmaster (1968 – 1988), Moment of Truth (1982), Entreat (2016), This Is My Desire (2020), Citation (2020), and, most recently, the action war thriller Eagle Wings (2021).
Three days after Sadiq Daba’s demise, Kunle Afolayan revealed that the actor had an oxygen machine with him while filming Citation. Afolayan praised Daba for the strength he showed during the filming and pronounced that name “his name will be remembered forever.”
Since news of Daba’s death broke, many Nigerians have written tributes: Kunle Afolayan, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, publisher and businessman Dele Momodu, journalist Mercy Abang, senator Shehu Sani, actresses Kate Henshaw, Nse Ikpe-Etim, and Temi Otedola.
In the interview with TheCable Lifestyle, when asked if he had any dream he wanted to actualize, Daba said, “I have done all I want to do. I have no regrets, I’m very happy.”
Uzoma Ihejirika is a Nigerian creative writer and journalist. He is an editor for the AfroAnthology Series and a copy editor for Minority Africa and has written for Open Country Mag. He has works on Lolwe and Isele Magazine.