We already know international celebs like Ositadimma Umenyiora, Nnamdi Asomugha, David Oyelowo, Chinwetel Ejiofor, Seal, etc. But there are a whole lot of other global stars that I bet you’ll swear they could be anything but Nigerian. This is so because, most of us do not even know their real names, which may have given us a hint of their nationality. Another thing is that most of them are now so polished both in appearance and speech such that we could hardly trace their true origins. Also, its very common for Africans to hide their origin once they find themselves in Eurpean countries. Here are 10 international celebrities you’ve never dreamt were Nigerians.
Looking at his skin calour and hair, one would readily conclude that Richard is anything but of West African origin. He is an English actor, writer, TV presenter, and director, best known for his roles as Dean Learner in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd. Ayoade was born in Hammersmith, London to Layide Ade Laditi Ayoade, a Nigerian father, and Dagny Amalie, a Norwegian mother. So you see, Richard is just a fellow Nigerian even though he does not look it!
British actress, Sophie Okonedo was born to Nigerian father, Henry Okonedo and a Jewish mother, Joan nee Allman. Okonedo was born in London and she began her film career in 1991 in the British coming-of-age drama Young Soul Rebels before appearing in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) and Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things (2002). She received a Golden Globe nomination for the mini series Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006) and BAFTA TV Award nominations for the drama series Criminal Justice (2009) and the TV film Mrs. Mandela (2010). Since she has spent all her life in Europe, you hardly can tell that she has anything to do with Nigeria.
Tinie is a popular English rapper. A lot of people (and I guess, including you) used to think that he is a negro, basically from south London. Though he was born in London, his parents are from Ibusa in Delta state of Nigeria. Tinie Timpah is his stage name but his real name is Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu.
Shirley Veronica Bassey is the 78-year-old Welsh Singer who in all her career has been portrayed as anything but Nigerian. She was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales and she has spent all her life in Europe. This may be why you can hardly tell that Shirley has got any connection with Africa and specifically, Nigeria. The fact is that Shirley’s father, Henry Bassey is a Nigerian while her mother was an English woman. She is best known for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979).
Lemar Obika was born in Tottenham, North London, England to Nigerian parents of Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria. Most of his Nigerian fans may not even know that the handsome UK R&B singer is from the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. Both parents are Igbos.
Someone from Eastern Nigeria, on seeing the name ‘Madekwe’, will immediately recognize her origin. But just as I said earlier on, so many of us see these stars starring on stage but not knowing their real names. Others may not know since not all Nigerians are Igbos. If the name were to be written and called properly, it should be “Mmaduekwe”. Ashley is by profession, an English actress, best known for her role as social climber Ashley Davenport on the ABC drama series Revenge.
Taio Cruz is a British singer, song writer, record producer, occasional rapper and entrepreneur. The case of Taio was very funny to me when I came across it. If you are from Western Nigeria, you’ll understand what I mean. His real name is Jacob Taiwo Cruz. The name “Taio” is actually “Taiwo” but he anglicized it, cutting it short to be Taio. He did this either to make for an easier and “cuter” pronunciation or to hide his identity, who knows…He was born in London to a Nigerian father and a Brazilian mother. The award-winning star is popularly known for his albums, Departure and Rokstarr.
TYLER THE CREATOR
Tyler Gregory Okonma, (born March 6, 1991), better known by his stage name Tyler, The Creator, is an American rapper and record producer from California. That sounded so smooth and splendid, isn’t it? Tyler is actually of Nigerian origin. The surname Okonma is a Nigerian name of Igbo origin which means good or good-looking man. Though he says he has never met his father but he’s got Nigerian blood running in him. Some of his albums include, Bastard, Yonkers, Goblin, etc.
Dizzee is a pure African man, no mixtures. His father is Nigerian while his mother is Ghanaian. He lost his dad while he was very young and was raised by his mother. His real name is Dylan Mills. He is an English grime MC, songwriter and record producer.
Popularly known for acting Mr. Smith in Matrix, Hugo Weaving is a Nigerian by birth. He was born at the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan. He also stared in popular blockbusters such as V For Vendetta, The Matrix Trilogy and Lord of The Rings Trilogy, Transformers Trilogy, The Hobbit Trilogy and Captain America….