John Okafor, often called “Mr Ibu” after his most popular movie role, is an actor and comedian. He is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s most comic movie characters. His acting career began on the 3rd of December, 1978. He had to walk the long distance between Ajao Estate and Festac in Lagos for auditions and rehearsals on a daily basis because he could not afford the fare.
Mr Ibu had tried his hands as a firewood seller, butcher, hairdresser, football agent, a martial arts instructor at a Girls’ School in Onitsha, and photographer and has worked at a wooden crate factory to make ends meet. In an interview with Exclusive Magazine, he said:
“… I had to work in a crate industry. It used to be wooden crates, now they are plastic crates. I was also a fridge repairer. In the end, I had to leave school. We were eight in number in my family; I had to do what I could to help the rest. After some time with Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), I left Anambra State. I was a martial artist; I had my black belt in 1983. I went to Sapele, I went into a slaughterhouse to do the journeyman thing. Then I went also to the sawmill. I had to do anything I can to make money. I had a problem when I went into trading with some of my friends outside the Nigerian border in Niger. We bought fairly used stuff such as shoes and shirts. Sometimes we bought capsules, injections or drugs that would do well in the market. I later ran into problem with the law because I didn’t have Pharmaceutical licence, eventually, I stopped.”
He became suicidal after starving for three days and would have drowned himself in a well in Ajao Estate, Lagos, but for the thought of how his mother would cope with the news and the reassuring lyrics of Michael Bolton’s “When I’m Back on My Feet Again” that came to him from a neighbour’s radio.
Although he says the Zalex film Agony was his breakthrough movie, most industry followers say his real breakthrough came in 2004 when he landed the lead role for the comic movie Mr Ibu which was quickly followed by Mr Ibu in London as a result of the overwhelming success of the former. Since then he has stuck strictly to humour filled roles which Wikipedia describes as “characterised by stupidity, hilarious imbecility and a sharp disconnection from reality.” He currently has over 200 movies to his credit as well as several awards and lavish endorsement deals.
Austinemedia.com estimated his net worth to be at $4.2 million as at 2017. This would most likely have increased by now.
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