7 minutes had just jumped past the hour of 12 when I arrived his residence (in highbrow Lekki Phase 1, Lagos) that Sunday, June 21, 2015. It was drizzling and so the street looked deserted. A hard knock on his gate and the security man came rushing out; sleepy-eyed and of course sad. In fact, so sad because his sleep had been rudely interrupted. With the frown still occupying his face, he asked who I wanted to see; I said Julius and he went back to his room. However, before he could reach him on the intercom, I already had Julius’ voice on my phone, which I handed over to him. ‘Open!’ He said, and the security man immediately ushered me into the compound, and from there the sitting room.
Sumptuously and stylishly furnished, I was still admiring and appreciating the painstaking effort it must have taken to put that together when my friend and brother, Julius Chinweikpe Agwu, sauntered in. Obviously looking better and healthier, fresher but slightly bearded, we quickly exchange pleasantries; then talked about this and that; thanked God for His mercies before ultimately delving into the business of the day – his ill health.
For months, it would be recalled, the Choba, Rivers dude who created musicomedy, a genre of music and comedy that was hitherto unknown to this part of the world, had been losing weight, losing colour and losing so many other things. Friends and family members were concerned. Fans and clients also panicked. Of course, the rumour mill swiftly went agog. With tales of HIV, kidney and cancer spreading in hush tones. Some reckless bloggers even put it on the social media, but the serious and respected ones, those who play by the rules of the game, chose not to. And preferring instead to confirm before publishing.
YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine therefore couldn’t wait to sit face to face with the ace comedian and ask him what exactly was wrong. Which eventually happened that Sunday afternoon. For the first time since the whole health drama started, the Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Port Harcourt opened up to us: “Onyeoma, see your brother!” He had begun as our bodies collided in a warm embrace. “This is just God at work and that is why I will forever thank Him…”
On the genesis of his ill health, he said he can’t say specifically when and how it started. But all he could recollect was that at some point, he went on and on losing serious weight, which got many people wondering. Some concerned ones started proffering solutions, both medically and spiritually, while others resorted to murmuring and gossiping.
It went on and on until sometime in May when he had a seizure at home and while his wife, Ibiere, whom he lavished with so much thanks all through our stay for her love, care, understanding and support, battled to halt that, he ran out of breath. Almost lifeless. And with the likely consequences starring her in the face, Ibiere got their maid and the security man to assist her in getting him into one of their cars. And from there, they practically sprinted to their hospital in Lekki.Thank God the doctor was on call. He battled for hours with his team to ‘bring him back to life again’. And upon stabilizing him, Julius and his wife immediately left for the United States of America. Houston to be precise, where arrangement had been made at the Park Plaza Hospital. After a series of tests, two lumps were discovered in his brain! The lumps had been messing up his health and causing his incessant weight loss. Immediately, the Caucasian surgeons went to work, operating on him for about 4 hours on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, at the Park Plaza Hospital in Houston Texas, United States of America. Upon being discharged, Julius rested in the US for sometime before returning home recently.
Currently putting things together for the 10th anniversary of his annual Crack Ya Ribs in London, the father of two (Zhara and Zadok) told YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine that all through the time he was medically down, he was always thinking about what would become of his wife and children should anything go wrong. “Onyeoma, I no go lie to you, na dem I just dey think about. But like I said earlier, it’s God at work. I want to thank everybody who supported me in one way or the other. Those that were praying for me and all that.
I’m planning a thanksgiving where I will still tell the full story. But for now, I just want to thank God and my wife. Onyeoma! My wife tried. The day I had the seizure, she put her finger in my mouth and I bit it…All the vomit; the mess; she was the one brushing and bathing me on the bed and clearing and cleaning them. IB really, really tried for me”. A smile immediately erupted on the face of IB who was sitting adjacent us and also listening to her husband narrate his story. His two children who were also nearby immediately made for where we were sitting and started crawling all over us. And as if on cue, Julius quipped in an emotional voice: “Onyeoma, wetin for happen like say…” And he left it hanging there. I remembered I hadn’t had my breakfast then, having come straight from the church. I voiced this out and the wife arranged something for us to eat, and as we ate and discussed, Julius just kept thanking, appreciating and saluting God for the miracle He just did in his family, his life, his career and everything.