‘I am not a SICKLE CELL WARRIOR – I am a SICKLER!’ – (Wale Fanu passes away at 72)

A star has fallen in Nigeria as the sun sets on ace Nollywood film-maker, Adewale Fanu, seven weeks after his 72nd birthday. He always remarked that  both his parents passed away just after their 70th birthdays.

Wale Fanu’s passing underlines a irony of a fact of life: that no branch – no leaf, no matter how withered – falls off a tree except the time is ripe.

‘I fear I would also die around the same age,’ he told Sickle Cell News at an interview when he was 68. ‘That thought fills me with dread as I approach 70 – I keep thinking the end is near!’

Born 21 April 1950 (he shared the same birthday with his mom) Fanu overheard doctors at the Kano General Hospital, where he was finally diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia at the age of 13, telling his mom he would not live past the age of 20.

He  was studying at Electrical Engineering at the Technical College (now Ibadan Polytechnic) Ibadan but did not graduate after his father insisted he stay at home because of his tendency to fall into crises too painful to watch. Falling into a coma for days also went with his SCD journey.

‘I would rather you died at home than have your corpse brought here to me!’ his father told him.

Fanu did odd jobs here and there and finally entered the world of cinematography where he made his name.  He worked for the Nigerian Television Service helping to produce popular such films as Mirror In the Sun. and Owo Blow. After leaving paid employment, he set up his own outfit, Cinekraft.

Wale Fanu developed avascular necrosis (AVN) of the hip in his early 20s but was advised to hold of having an operation until he could ‘no longer hustle.’ He lived with the oftentimes unbearable pain of AVN – with painkillers for company – until he was 68.

Widely traveled in Nigeria, his work took him to the UK and USA. Fanu breathed his last on June 10 2022. Generous to the extreme, sickle cell anaemia was no match for his tenacity of purpose.

Nollywood, in particular his old colleagues such as Tunde Kelani would miss him no end.

Sickle Cell News April-June 2020. Special Edition for Wale Fanu @ 70


‘Doctors and nurses drop their clinical facade when they see me in crises – they weep!’

‘Wherever I had to spend more than a night or two, I always made sure to know the location of a hospital close by.’

‘I keep wondering why my most severe crises events usually happen only at night!’

‘In this day and age, I wince to see a child born with sickle cell. I used to think that if I should fall wittingly or unwittingly into that error, I should commit suicide! (coincidentally, his second wife is a carrier of the sickle cell gene; they have a teenage daughter)

‘I have been smoking (cigarettes) and taking hard liquor all my life. I can’t quit, I won’t quit – only death can make me stop!’ (Wale Fanu chain-smokes even when being interviewed but usually tells reporters to keep that off the record. When a reporter published the fact in a popular Nigerian national daily in 2018, Fanu simply shrugged it off).


‘If there’s life after life, maybe I wouldn’t mind being a sickler again – sickle cell made me what I am today!’


Sickle Cell Warrior/Advocate Passes Away at 64

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