Listening to Julius Agwu, A-list comedian, actor, dancer, musician and so on, recount his shocking illness and brain surgery (at Park Plaza Hospital, Houston Texas, USA, on Tuesday, May 12, 2015) will bring tears to your eyes – no matter how stone-hearted you are. D’Genius, like he’s fondly called, literally died and came back to life again. Little wonder he admitted to YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine’s AZUH ARINZE, on Sunday, September 20, 2015, when we spoke to him exclusively again, that he can’t thank God enough for giving him a second chance. Looking much better now, compared to the last time we met, the father of two, from Choba, Rivers State, accompanied by select friends and family members, stormed Pastor Tony Rapu’s church, This Present House, in Lekki, Lagos, for a Special Thanksgiving. At home later that evening, we took him on one more time – and below are the excerpts of what the Theatre Arts graduate of the University of Port-Harcourt who is married to Ibiere told us…
Onyeoma, how does it feel to be back?
Life is good, Onyeoma! Not LG (General laughter). But life is good. Life is good. I mean, it just feels good to have the privilege of having a second chance. It’s not everybody that can have this opportunity or be here to talk about what I’m talking about. There are those who have heart attacks along the road or in their bathrooms; and then, there are those who sleep and never wake up. So, they do not even have the opportunity of being taken to the hospital. But for what God has done for me; in fact, this is a re-birth for me.
Why did you choose today, Sunday, September 20, 2015, to have the thanksgiving? Any specific reason?
I think God orchestrated this because I came back from America, with my family, a couple of days ago and I called the church (This Present House, Lekki, Lagos) to confirm when, and they told me that our thanksgiving Sundays are usually the third week in every month and co-incidentally, because I said to myself that I would never embark on any event in Nigeria –after I returned to Nigeria –I will never do any show until I have done a thanksgiving and thanked God properly for what He has done. Now, as God will have it, or rather as we will have it; it happened that I’m supposed to have a Glo event today – and they’ve been calling me and I was like, no, God first; work this thing, let it work out and you can see how He did it. The next thanksgiving will be sometime in October and I have other events too. I also have the 10th anniversary of Abuja Crack Ya Ribs coming up on the 2nd of October, which we are doing as the Independence celebration. It was just a few days ago that we decided to do it. Like I said, God orchestrated it. As soon as the thing fell on this Sunday, I just told my wife, I think we should go ahead. I’m sure you received a text like a day before yesterday. So, that was why; not that we planned it. God made it. Na Him dey in charge now. He’s the one in charge of everything.
How does it feel to be given a second chance by God?
Like I said, it’s exciting, and that means that He has a very serious purpose for me. Let me confess; true confession. I don’t think I’ve said it anywhere – before now, something deep inside me kept telling me that God has a major purpose for me. And I keep saying it as a joke – that if He (God) wants me to do something, He should give me a call, not missed call, not flash (Laughter).
He should call me directly. But I didn’t know that this was the whole plan – using another medium to showcase what He wants me to do, and that means that we are also in an era, in a generation, where a lot of things are just going wrong – people are beginning to have sudden illnesses that were never part of us before, young kids having cancers, different things. At times people just walk; living corpses. You are walking along, you do not know what is inside you. So, God wants to use people like us whom He has given that talent to raise a whole new generation and warriors for Him and that’s what I’ve decided that I will do. I’m a comedian, I’m an actor and He’s the one who oils my wheel of creativity. I have a brand, Laugh For Christ’s Sake, which is something I use to glorify God. But I think I need to do more.
All the while that you were going through this challenge, what was going through your mind?
Hmmm! I was scared! I was scared! I was like what is happening? Is this my end? And when I look at my family, I will go like, am I gonna leave these people? What will happen? I mean, there are people who just go; as soon as they go, the whole of that empire is forgotten. It crumbles. When I even took ill, my office was like…it was like everybody abandoned us. So, it feels good to be alive again because; the major thing that was going through my mind – I just realized the fact that once you are faced with misfortune, you are on your own. That’s when you realize that it’s family over everything; your family matters a lot. So, that’s it, because I know a lot of people who did not reach out to me. It’s sad, but I don’t wanna go there.
How will you sum up the whole experience – having a seizure here at home, being rushed to the hospital, brought back, flown abroad, went for the brain surgery and things like that?
It’s not an experience I will want even my enemy to pass through at all. It’s not something I want my enemy to experience. But again, it has taught me a lot, it has renewed my perception of life and like I said, it’s a re-birth for me and you see, everything happens for a reason. Nigeria is passing through a process now. This change mantra that everybody is talking about; we’ve been yearning for this for a very long time. There was a time it became like a parlance – E go better! If anything happens to you; you say e go better! And I kept wondering – when e go better? So, God probably orchestrated what’s happening to our country now, to use it to change us. It’s not just about the politicians, it’s not just about corrupt politicians, it’s not just about corruption, it’s not just about fraud, it’s about purifying our systems. What happened to family values? What happened to friends being honest? Honesty! What happened to credibility? Integrity. These days, even the children who want to go back to school ask their parents for tips so that they can ‘sort’ lecturers. What is that? Where are we going to? What happened to social development? What do you want to do to impact on your community?
What would you say to God, considering all that He has done for you?
All I have to say to God; 1st of November, I’m doing Laugh For Christ’s Sake, at This Present House, my church and I’m going back to America to give back to all the churches and now I want to do more to give Him back all the glory, all adoration, all praise, because without Him, I won’t be talking to you now. And you know the story…
Yes, I do! The first time you heard you were going to go for brain surgery, what went through your mind?
I got really scared, I just started crying, and I was like whaaooh! Is this the end for me? Or is He finally giving me the message? The call I asked Him to give me (Laughs).
After the surgery, when everything was successful, what was the first thing you did? What did you say to God first?
I’ve been thanking Him always, I’ve been telling Him thank you and what I say to Him now is to direct my ways and to show me what He really wants me to do. Everything is working out. I mean, I have a foundation, JAFY – Julius Agwu Foundation for Youths. Which I’ve been using since to do Festival of Love, another of my brands. I also have others, but I think I need to do more.
What is going to change about you now that you have a totally different view of life?
As you can see, the look has changed first. That’s one thing that’s changed. My hair is grown now (Laughing). I’m changing physically. But basically, I wanna change spiritually. I know it will be hard, but I will call on God to bring; no, increase his guardian angel, because everybody has one. You know there are people whose guardian angels leave, abandon, when you want to enter bar or go Igbo joint. Your guardian angel will say abeg, I not fit high, make I wait outside (Laughter).
Before you made up your mind to go for the brain surgery, did you get a lawyer to write your Will in case of anything?
(Laughs) – No, no…
So, what happened?
What happened was at some point, when I noticed that people were talking about my weight loss; there was a day I came back to the house, I just told my wife (Ibiere); I started giving her my property, all the documents. Keep this, keep that, look, this one is here, that one is there. She said where are you going? I said I don’t know what’s happening to me, I don’t know what’s happening…She said you are not going anywhere; nothing is going to happen to you and I held on to that until that seizure happened. She was really concerned about me. That was part of why I got a bit scared. Like I said, it (illness) has given me a whole real new perception of what life is. And I will break another news to you – I have a show coming up next year; I’m saying it for the first time. The title of the show is Life As I See It. That’s my one – man show. And it might also become the title of another book. I’m serious! Life As I See It, where I will tell my story, the whole experience of what I passed through.