Sam Loco Efe was born in Enugu on 25th December 1945.
His father was a warder, by name— Arase Efeimwonkiyeke. He was a Benin man who worked in Eastern Nigeria and his mother was a petty trader who sold akara.
He spent his childhood in the town of Abakaliki in present-day Ebonyi State. In fact, he spent much of his years in Abakaliki.
When he was in primary school, he lost his father. He had to support his mother in her business which made him spend longer than usual years before graduating from primary school.
He started acting while still in school when a theatre group came to stage a play called “The Doctor In Spite of Himself”, afterwards he discussed with members of the group about the theatre and performance arts.
In elementary school, he was a member of various groups including a drama society that performed a rendition of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at an Eastern regional arts festival in Abakaliki, the play came last in the drama competition but Efe was noted as the best actor which earned him a scholarship to complete elementary school.
After finishing elementary school, he attended various secondary schools and was active in the drama society, organizing a performance of The Doctor in Spite of Himself and a play called Vendetta.
After secondary school, he was a member of a traveling theatre group and played soccer earning the moniker locomotive later shortened as loco. That was how his name Loco came to being.
During the Biafran genocidal War, Efe fought on the Biafra side until he returned to Benin in 1968. He saw himself as an Igbo man and a Biafran before anything.
While in Benin in the 60s, he started the Ovonranwen Theatre Group with their debut production being Ogierhiakhi’s Obaiwape.
However, his earnings from acting was meagre and thereafter, he traveled to Lagos to seek better career opportunities and to explore a career in football.
He got his first job in 1972 working for Michelin Tyres. He applied for the position without knowing how to drive which was a requirement for the job.
He learned how to drive a day before the interview. During the interview, he passed the oral interview and failed the driving test but honesty about his error in judgement won over the interviewer.
He worked for Michelin selling tyres in Lagos, Ijebu Ode and Abeokuta. He soon left Michelin to work for Dunlop Tyres as a Senior Sales Representative in the Tyres and Allied products division.
While working for Dunlop in Benin, he was a cast member of NTA Benin’s television series, Hotel de Jordan and also performed in a rendition of Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame.
In 1977, he left sales for a career in theatre. He auditioned and got the lead part of Langbodo, a play by Dapo Adelugba presented during FESTAC.
After the end of Festac, Adelugba introduced him to a friend of his at University of Ibadan about opportunities in theatre. Adelugba’s friend was able to get Efe a position as a senior artiste in the institution.
Sam Loco would later become a household name and one of the early pioneers of Nollywood.
He made the world laugh.
He featured in Things Fall Apart series in the 80s.
Some movies he featured include:
- Tom and Jerry
- Final World Cup
- Long John
- My Love
- I want to harvest you
- The return of anunuebe
Sam Loco Efe died in his hotel room at Amakọhịa, Owere, Imo State on 7th August 2011. Till date, nobody knows the cause of his death. Ventolin was found with him when the room was broken open. Report has it that Sam Loco has been an asthmatic patient.
I personally missed him.