General News | 6 July 2005 00:03 CET

Stephanie Okereke shave with death

Okereke narrated her close shave with death when the car she was travelling in had an accident and burst into flames. She believes God wanted to use the accident to draw her closer to Him.

Peace- Anyiam Fiberesima had assured us that we would have a nice time in Yenagoa. And because I was nominated for the best actress award, I wanted to be there. Though I was shooting a film in Owerri and initially had difficulties in securing permission to travel, I was eager to make the trip.
However, I had misgivings about going to Yenagoa. One minute, I would be interested in going, the next minute I would cancel it. Usually, when I am not certain about something I don't move or go anywhere. But I broke that rule in this trip.

The accident
We were moving smoothly when suddenly a tanker with a failed brake hit another car which swerved across the road and hit the car that was conveying me. The car went up in flames and there was fire everywhere. I managed to get out of the car and attempted to run but discovered that my leg was broken. I started screaming before people came to my aid and moved me to the other side of the road.
The accident was like a movie to me. I thought I would wake up and see that it was a film. But I realized that it was real. This prompted me to ask God if this was the end.

But God told me it was the beginning. This was when I had the strength. While writhing in pain a news headline, like "Stephanie Okereke in ghastly motor accident," flew across my mind. I then screamed that I should be taken to the hospital. People at the scene of the accident recognized me, but they watched helplessly until those I called the three good Samaritans brought me to Port Harcourt.
At the hospital, I asked if my leg was going to be amputated. But God assured me that all was well, which gave me the encouragement that I would face whatever situation that was on the way.
Immediately I saw the reaction of doctors, I knew I would survive it.

Lessons of survival
I was not even thinking of my acting career. I was thinking of how to survive. What occupied my mind after the accident was to get to the hospital. I did not even ask God why it happened, because instantly I realized that anything could happen to anybody. There is no exception, no matter how highly placed you are, and we all face the same risks. I realized that God was with me and probably he was trying to tell me something. Maybe I had been neglecting him.

The accident has drawn me closer to God. I have learnt to take life easy and not to be too much in a hurry.
My survival was not because I am an actress it was God's favour.

I am actually touched that people could respond to me this way. The number of people that have visited my bedside is enormous. I don't even know which word to use to express my appreciation.
The people I was shooting film with came the night of the accident and told me that they would suspend production until I am well. I was touched that in Nigeria a producer can do that.
School children came here to see me. Workers and bankers came. Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was also here. The other day, Pastor Chris Okotie called to know my state of health.

I am not making money lying down on this bed. Therefore, I want to go back to work. But I am eager to get well. Unfortunately, the injury on my leg has to do with bone and it would take a while to heal. I want to take my time so that I don't come back here. When I am fully recovered I will return to my career.
Message to fans
I want to tell them that I love them so much. They have been wonderful. But they should not be crying or mourning because of what some people have said. I just want to thank them for their prayers. I promise to be back soon.

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