By Emmanuel Ugwu
Humour merchant and creator of the famed The Masquerade comedy series, Chief James Akwari Iroha, popularly known by his stage name, Gringory, was Saturday laid to rest at the Bush House, his country home, with his family declaring that the laughter which their father symbolised must continue.
The funeral which was officiated by 21 ministers of the Methodist Church, including Bishops, drew a large crowd of people comprising friends and kinsmen of the deceased, members of the Nigerian Guild of Actors and professional associates who filled the Amokwe Item mini-stadium in Bende local government of Abia State to pay their last tribute to the late humour merchant.
Some members of the New Masquerade cast, including Chief Zebrudaya (Chika Okpala), Zaki (Akposheri) and Cyracus Okochi (Christopher Ekweonye) were on hand to pay their last respects to the late comedian.
In his sermon, Bishop Sunday Onuoha said in these trying times, Nigeria should embrace what Gringory stood for by making others smile and laugh instead of bringing them tears and anguish, adding that medical experts have proved that laughter has curative value.
“May be if he (Gringory) was alive Nigeria would be smiling instead of fighting,” he said, urging that people should strive at all times to offer smiles to others.
Tributes were paid by several individuals and organisations, including the governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Broad-casting Corporation of Abia State, Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN), among others.
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