John Okafor is more commonly known as Mr. Ibu after an extremely popular role he played, though he had already adopted the name from his grandfather whom he says was his mentor and inspiration for doing comedy. John Okafor is undoubtedly one of the funniest men in Nigeria although his life hasn’t just been a barrel of laughs. His childhood was an uphill battle after the death of his father which by his own words left him and his family tenants in their own village when a storm destroyed their home. The misfortunes of his family actually read like a Nollywood movie script but he overcame to be one of the most sought after professionals in the film industry. A few things you may not be aware of about Mr. Ibu include:
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1. His debut is titled Rolling Stone, which earned him a mere 5,000 Naira which is a far cry from the six figure sums he rakes in today with his movies.
2. His father and five other members of his family were killed in the same year, 1976, poisoned by someone who was revealed by the actor’s father posthumously. This same tragedy seemed to have followed him later in life.
3. His ex-wife kidnapped his wife and son according to John Okafor and released them after 10 days once the actor paid the ransom. Unfortunately his son died a year later in circumstances that were less than straightforward and it later discovered that he was poisoned.
4. The 52 year old went to school during the Biafra war. In fact the announcement of war on the 15th January 1966 came only a week after he started school. He however, saw it as fun the running to the bush, eating lizards, crocodile and even Oke, meaning rat and the camaraderie that it presented.
5. The seasoned actor surprisingly does not know how to cook. During the Biafra era, one of his brothers would cook the lizards that they frequently ate and of course now he does not really need to learn that particular skill.
6. Other skills that he does have however includes hairdressing and styling. This was one of the odd jobs that he did to get by in his youth and he apparently got so good at it that his customers became so reliant on him that they would wait if they did not find him present at the salon. He even owned a hotel called Ecowas, in Agboyin which he run before his initial movies became best sellers.
7. John Okafor has mentored many upcoming actors in the industry and has been responsible for the success of some of the big names in Nollywood today. He mentored Jim Iyke who came up to him on the scene of Vuga and showed interest in the industry. He walked him through and put him in eleven scenes of the production and today, Iyke is a household name. Georgina Onuoha was also discovered on the set of Woman, a movie he was working on and she still pays homage to him.
8. After his extensive stint in the film industry he has not only earned experience but wealth as well. He appears on the list of the 10 wealthiest actors in the Nollywood film industry. His attitude and his interpretation of roles has created a massive demand for the actor such that he has gone beyond the borders to work in international scenes, like the Ibu Runs Mad in America which is a Hollywood and Nollywood joint project.
9. The funny actor is also a singer and his CD’s are in the market. They are titled This Girl 1 & 2. He likes playing draughts with his friends and watching football although this almost got him into trouble as a game he had gone to watch had to be stopped when the crowd as well as the referee left the game to run after him and he had to take to his heels to avoid being trampled by the fans.
10. The comical antics of the humorous actor have also gone from the movie scenes into some of the music videos he has featured in. He made an appearance on Flavour’s song, Ada Ada where his dancing antics moved his ‘wife’ to pull him off the dance floor.