Iconic thespian and fashion buff, Richard Mofe-Damijo, popularly hailed as RMD got all the right words as he celebrated his 60th birthday with a commemorative online lecture, Saturday.
The virtual event convened by veteran journalist, Professor Jamin Ohwovoriole of North-West University, Orlando-Florida, USA, brought together several artistic intellectuals locally and around the world, as well as topshots in the Nigerian movie industry, otherwise known as Nollywood to celebrate the life of the multiple award winning entertainment icon.
Discussants at the event tagged: ‘Real Men Dance – The Significance of Richard Mofe-Damijo’ monitored by The New Diplomat include Prof. Onookome Okome (Canada); Prof. Obi Nwakanma (USA); Niyi Coker (USA); Kole-Ade Odutola (USA); Segun Ojewuyi (USA); actress Joke Sylva; Prof. Mabel Evwierhoma and Bolanle Austen-Peters among others.
Founder and Managing Director of Terra-culture, Ms. Austen-Peters in her remarks, said RMD has been a shining light in the Nigerian entertainment industry and a master of his own craft, creating a decades-old brand out of his name, hence blazing the trail for other performers to emulate.
Austen-Peters, a movie producer and director added that RMD who took a break from acting to delve into politics between 2007 and 2013 as a former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State, during the administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has shattered generational barriers to occupy a unique position in the minds of young artists as a role model who is ever ready to work and relate with young talents and give back to Nollywood.
In her keynote lecture, Professor (Mrs.) Mabel Evwierhoma described RMD as a multi-talented artist that has exhibited much proficiency and artistry in numerous ways, noting that the Delta-born entertainer has held on to his artistic creativity, without letting monetary gains force a shift in his work as seen in the Nigerian entertainment sector in contemporary time.
“Today, many performers are tagged millionaires and that shift them from the initial focus many of them had at the beginning to entertain, to create fun, to educate. These days money is placed atop many of the primary reasons for which many of them set out. And so to now push the creative muse further, I would like to inform us that money does not, it didn’t and still does not constitute the only reason for artistic creativity,” she said.
Richard Mofe-Damijo, according to Evwierhoma is a hybrid artist, whose work traverses acting, journalism, public relations, politics and law with a distinctive intersection.
In her words: “As an hybrid artist, you refer to RMD as an actor, journalist, PR practitioner, politician, humorist, name it, but I want to look at the intersection between theatre and justice or law and theatre, because in that one individual (RMD), we experienced that hybridity. In Nigeria and of course recently I turned in a dissertation. On the first page, I had this to say that in recent years that many practitioners of arts and even artists themselves like dramatist, musicians, comedians and comediennes as well as people in other areas of the performative arts have ventured into learning the law to become lawyer.
“To many within the house of arts, such artist performers, artist Scholar, critic artist, scholar performers and other diverse combinations who venture into different areas of the media have been called different names for venturing into law. In our fold, we have Reuben Abati, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Taiwo Adepetu, Tunji Bamishigbin, Kanayo O Kanayo and of course others in no order who trend as theatre artist from different universities in Nigeria and later went on to study law.” Prof Evwierhoma added.
RMD was born on 6th July 1961 in Aladja, a coastal community in Udu, a kingdom of the Urhobo tribe in Warri, Delta State.
Mofe-Damijo was born into a large family of 18 persons, according to RMD’s African Magic profile. He grew up in Warri, an oil hub in South-South Nigeria, where he attended both primary and secondary school.
On completing his basic education, he went on to study Theater Arts at the University of Benin (UNIBEN). RMD obtained a Bachelor in Arts degree from Uniben in 1983.
However, he also studied law at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), completing the programme in 2004.
RMD was once a journalist with the Punch newspaper following a piece he submitted about a play he had seen leading to a brief career in journalism. Before he returned to his mainstay — acting, he had also practiced with Concord newspaper and Metro Magazine.
The actor, who has five children and is happily married to Jumobi Adegbesan since 2000, is an entrepreneur and founder of RMD Productions Limited, White Water Limited and RMD Foundation.
Richard Mofe-Damijo has acted in more than 100 Nollywood films and he is still active to date.
Some of the numerous awards he has bagged include: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Africa Movie Academy Awards, 2005; Special Recognition Award, Best of Nollywood Awards, 2012; Lifetime Achievement Award, Africa Movie Academy Awards, 2016; Overall Best Actor in a Leading Role, in the movie Cross Road, Africa Movie Academy Awards, 2018.