If you are a fan of Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry, especially its Yoruba niche, then Funmi Martins is a name that you will not forget in a hurry. And that is because she stands out as a shining star in the galaxy of Nigerian entertainment. Here is her story.
BIRTH, EARLY DAYS AND EDUCATION
She was born as FUNMI OGUNTOMI in Ilesa (Ilesha), Osun State. However, she grew up in Lagos State, Abeokuta (Ogun State) and Ibadan (Oyo State). For her primary and secondary school education, she was at the Oke-Ona Primary and Grammar School, Abeokuta, Ogun State. From there, she was off to the Beepo Secretarial Institute where she bagged a diploma in Secretarial Studies. Thereafter, she did some modeling before veering into acting.
LOVE AND MOTHERHOOD
An actress and movie producer, she was a long-time romantic partner of the Afrojuju music legend, Sir Shina Peters. Sir Shina Peters was reportedly devastated over the news of her death. Two months before her death, she had given birth to her third and last child for Peters. Sir Shina Peters was even present at the naming ceremony while his band entertained the guests free of charge. She was said to have changed her name to Funmi Peters at the event, her three children were also reportedly named after Peters. Her last child was named Akanbi Ayomipo Peters.
The love she shared with Sir Shina Peters was so strong that she reportedly left her former residence at 308, Agege Motor Road, Challenge Bus-Stop in Mushin for Iju-Ishaga where she could be closer to her lover.
Funmi Martins is seen here in a scene with the late Yomi Ogunmola in the movie Eran Iya Oshogbo.
She tried to gain an entry into the acting industry in 1992 when she approached a friend, Kola Idowu, but her efforts were not successful. It was not until late 1993 that fortune smiled on her when film producer Fidelis Duker saw her talents and did not hesitate in launching her career. Her first feature was in a movie directed by Duker, and it was titled Nemesis. With time, she sharpened her skills and would take part in even more movies like Scandals and Not My Will, both Duker movies, and later on, she acted in Millionaires Are Saints, directed by Madu Chikwendu.
Funmi Martins first Yoruba movie was done under the tutelage of veteran actor, Alhaji Adebayo Salami (Oga Bello) who almost cancelled his 50th birthday celebrations following her death, the event had to be done on a low-key.
FUNMI MARTINS on the cover of her last movie, Eru Eleru. CREDITS: VICTOLA VIDEOS
Funmi Martins starred in various flicks, some of which are:
-IYAN OGUN ODUN
-OWO NI E JE
-AKINTUNDE ONINKAN IBEJI
-ERU ELERU (her last Yoruba movie before her death)
-OJU KAN EPA
-ENIKAN O LAYE
-ETO MI (My Right)
In the movies below, Funmi Martins was in full action:
AYE O PARE
In June 2000, she was involved in a tussle with the Lagos Television (LTV) Channel 8 over copyright infringement of her works, Pelumi 1 and 2. The late Funmi Martins worked right till her last days on earth. Two weeks before her demise, she was on location in Ikorodu, Lagos, working on Antar Laniyans movie, Aduro Ti Oluwa. A talented actress, she was one of the very few actresses at that time who could act in both Yoruba and English movies with flawless precision and professionalism.
She was also a producer and she owned FLEM Productions which launched first major film, Pelumi 1 & 2, which was very successful. Her second movie was Idi Oluwa but did not record as much success as Pelumi. Like other artistes in the industry, she also had her own fair share of controversy. While she was producing Pelumi, tongues were wagging of her dating the late Alhaji Sikiri Ayinde Barrister who contributed financially to the production of the flick. Funmi Martins would later come out and debunk the rumours stating that Barrister only helped her in reaching greater heights in film production.
DEATH AND BURIAL
Three weeks before her death, her last public outing was at the All Seasons Plaza in Ikeja, Lagos State where she was seen chatting and having a nice time with a younger colleague named Foluke Daramola.
It was one Sunday afternoon, the 5th of May, 2002 when at her residence in Iju-Ishaga axis when she complained of dizziness. She was promptly ferried to her favourite clinic in Iju. At the hospital, her condition stabilized and no one could have imagined death was lurking in the corner. That evening at the hospital, she even breastfed her baby boy. Her condition seemed not alarming but by 11.48pm the next day, she was dead.
Ms. Funmi Martins died at the age of 38 at about 5.am on the 6th of May, 2002. She would have turned 39 by September 2002. She was pronounced dead at the Oshuntuyi Medical Hospital, Iju, Agege, Lagos State. She died just a couple of months after giving birth to a baby boy and the cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest caused by rheumatic heart disease. Following her death, the Nigerian movie industry was thrown into mourning.
Her confidant, big brother and colleague in the industry, Antar Laniyan said of her:
She was an ever-smiling woman, the best a woman can be and I’ll miss her smiling face.
Another actress, Bukky Wright said of her:
Funmi was a big sister, a nice woman who was so pleasant. I saw her last about two weeks ago on location of Antar Laniyan’s film in Ikorodu, so hale and hearty and not betraying any sign of illness, not to talk of death. We just discussed generally.
Funmi Martins burial was handled by her good friend and fellow actress Lola Afolayan (aka Lola Idije) who headed the burial committee made up of eight members. Before her final interment, there was a wake-keeping session/artistes night in her honour.
Her body was displayed at the premises of the Lagos State-owned EKO FM. Her casket was cream in colour. She was dressed in a blue aso oke skirt and blouse with a touch of red. Many could not control their tears as MIC brought in her body to the premises. Hordes of artistes, led by the President of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP), Adebayo Salami, were present to pay their last respects. Some of them were Yinka Quadri, Dr. (Mrs) Yemisi Jaiyeola (aka Adesqueen), Fali Werepe, Taiwo Hassan (aka Ogogo Omokulodo), Yemi Sodimu, Bimbo Oshin, Deji Adenuga, Sunday Omobolanle (Pappy Luwe) and many others.
She was then buried at Atan Cemetery.
Following her death, some of the artistes demanded for a full investigation concerning her death, as some claimed blood stains were found in her mouth calling into question the circumstances surrounding her death and the quality of healthcare she received. Funmi Martins left behind her aged mother and three children: Olumide, Ayo and Akanbi Ayomipo Peters, they were aged 18, 16 and a little over 40 days as at the time of her demise.
Today, her daughter, Mide Funmi Martins-Abiodun is keeping her mums legacy alive while also carving a niche for herself in Nigerias fast-growing movie industry.
Mide Martins-Abiodun is also married to Afeez Abiodun (Afeez Owo) who up until the death of Funmi Martins was an aide under the tutelage of the mother.
LEGENDS: Mother and daughter. The genes are too strong! Wow!
Mide, her daughter.
Mide And Afeez Abiodun
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME,
CREDITS AND REFERENCES:
1. VICTOLA VIDEOS
2. James Tar Tsaaior, The War Against Copyright Infringement, The Post Express, 20th June, 2000.
3. Ayodele Lawal, Rotimi Makindes Dilemma, PM News, 27th April 2002.
4. Ayodele Lawal, Artist Profile: Murphy Ray Eyimuwi, PM News, 18th May, 2002.
5. Musbau Rasak, Femi Adepoju & Ayodele Lawal, The Life & Times of Funmi Martins, PM News, 10th May, 2002.
6. Ayodele Lawal, Funmi Martins Buried, PM News, 17th May, 2002.