Letter to Kate Henshaw- By Eugenia Abu

Recently Kate presented a coffee table book about her life as an actress to the public. I could not make it. Here is a letter I wanted to be read at the event. As Nollywood turns 20, I celebrate one of her finest members.

You have brought us so much joy by your gift as a thespian working extremely hard on your craft to ensure that everything you touch is believable. We cried with you and laughed with you, your smile on and off screen, warm and welcoming; your laughter ringing across Nations, from Rwanda to Morocco, from the Caracas to Lagos, and from Asia to the Americas. Nigerians rush forward in love and curiosity when it is all about Kate Henshaw.
Your recent cover shoots show why we love you so much. Forever young; Kate Henshaw, is such an apt title for one of them. You have kept your charm and simplicity in spite of how much you have grown in the industry. Your pedigree and value add as a frontline actress has led to multiple endorsements by an electronics giant and a well-loved spice brand. As a brand bearer you have continued to carry yourself with dignity.
I was therefore very pleased with your decision to give us a coffee table book on your life, your beginnings, your journey and your plans. You reached out to me for comments and I was excited to be part of the book, pleased to share space on the blurb with the respected Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Nigeria’s former Foreign affairs minister whose words were as true as light on your professionalism, your candour, your charity and your untiring effort to improve yourself.
Unfortunately due to an earlier commitment I was unable to make the presentation of the book which attracted no less a person than the affable wife of my brother, the Ekiti State Governor, the lovely Mrs Fayemi.
You will recall how difficult it was for me to break the news of my non-availability to you. I flew into Lagos ahead of a planned trip to tell you myself. A phone call will not have sufficed. As a creative, I admire you, as my sister, I believe in you, as a human being, you never cease to amaze me with your humility. I watched as you obliged security men and women and front office staff a photo opportunity at my hotel in Ikeja. You were a natural, backslapping, posing and smiling and jocularly demanding an appearance fee of ₦200 a copy, much to the amusement of everyone.
Heartbroken as you were that I could not make it, you were gracious and understood my plight. You drove me yourself from Ikeja to Victoria Island, waving, smiling and bringing on-lookers to their feet while giving fellow road users some warmth.
A realization, a smile, recognition, and then a wave. “Aunty Eugenia, see how you are causing go-slow in Lagos,” you joked.
I laughed. Always one to be modest, you failed to admit that you were also part of the problem.
I recall your visit to the National human rights commission’s office in Lagos at another time, as you tried to find me, for a hug and a small discussion. Your presence in that office energized staff and brought smiles to many faces. You are never too busy for your fans and that is how it should be.
A few years ago, you found time to honour an invitation from me +in Abuja to join 7 – 14 year olds at the annual children’s writing workshop “The Treasured writers” [TTW].  You were selfless and a natural with children. You laughed with them and taught them how to be actors, showing them qualities required therein. You also went on to watch a movie with participants, queuing up and eating popcorn with them. It was the highlight of our weeklong workshop that year.
It is always fun to be with you and I look forward to your planned visit to Abuja where we can eat, laugh and indulge in our favourite past time, the arts and how we can make Nigeria better, one person at a time.
I have spent enough time with you to know how much you love your country and how much you would like Nigeria to be greater and better than any other Nation. Together we share a passion for a better Nigeria. We are upset when work ethics are thrown out of the window and wonder why customer service is at an all-time low. You do your bit, I can attest to that.
As I always say, we all have our shortcomings, but trust me Kate, you score over 85% in giving value, giving back and you represent Naija well . You try to be a good role model, an excellent mother, and the girl next door. We cannot have it all but you have earned your stripes.
Congratulations my darling on your new coffee table book. From the pictures at the event, I see how much I missed out. Welcome to the authors club and I wish you glorious years ahead. Your best is still ahead of you.  We are mighty proud!
By: Eugenia Abu

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