The Authority Icon: JOHN OKAFOR (MR. IBU)
For using laughter to light up millions of homes with his hilarious, comic Nollywood roles and providing relief in a stressful socio-economic period; for using his life story to prove that determination, focus and vision can change and lift human destiny and aid contribution to the growth of society, John Okafor (Mr. Ibu) is The AUTHORITY Icon.
According to this iconic Nollywood actor and notable comedian he was not born with even a spoon - not to speak of ‘a silver spoon.’ He had a very bracing childhood. His words: “When I lost my father (in 1975), a storm pulled down our house and we became tenants in our own village…We were eight in number - five males and three females. We were given a room in our maternal home; there, we all slept at night as if we were in a cell. One leg here, the other leg there!”
A child of promise - providence took a hand and transformed him into personality that today graces a million screens in as many Nigerian and African homes. Meet Mr. John Okafor, more popularly known as ‘Mr. Ibu.
He was born on October 17, 1961, in Umunekwu Village in Eziokwe, NKanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State. Considered to be one of Nigeria’s most talented comic characters, his humorous acting is often characterised by hilarity and a sharp disconnection from reality. He has acted in more than 70 movies including Mr. Ibu (2004), Mr.Ibu in London (2004), Police Recruit (2003), 9 Wives (2005), Ibu in Prison (2006) and Keziah (2007).
Partially orphaned early, he became something of a father to his siblings and widowed mother. His words: “That was how we became fathers to each other and to our mum. I was training myself in secondary school. I was doing all sorts of odd jobs. I sold fire wood, did hair dressing. I was assembling wooden crates of minerals. I was involved in the shooting wait-and-take pictures. I was a butcher. If you wanted to slaughter a goat, cow, pig, etc - I would do it for you; cut it to your desired sizes, and take it to your place. That was how I was surviving. It was from those petty jobs that I got money to see myself through school.”
When he was picking up his admission form to study Mass Communication at the Institute of Management and Technology, IMT, Enugu, his elder brother told him to opt for part-time study because it was going to be hard if he should go full-time. “There was no time for rest because it was struggle all through; struggle to go to school and struggle to feed ourselves and our mum.”
Along the way, he lost two members of his family - “But today, I give all thanks to God for His mercies.” Married to Stella Maris Okafor, a union blessed with children, he remains a role model to many Nigerian comedians.