Chiwetel Ejiofor: Igbo names open doors


Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor

British born Nigerian actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor believes that his decision not to bow to the pressure of changing his Igbo name paid off.

Ejiofor has roots in Oyofo-Oghe in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State and is a nephew of the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Christopher Ejiofor.

The ’12 Years A Slave’ star was born in London’s Forest Gate, to Nigerian parents, Arinze Ejiofor, a doctor, and mother, Obiajulu, a pharmacist. His younger sister, Zain Asher is a CNN correspondent.

Speaking with Red Magazine on his name, he said that he was advised that the name would work against him. “They seemed to think it was a negative, but it allowed me to work in Africa, in England and in the States,” Chiwetel revealed.

“I didn’t think I had a chance of being a film actor. My focus was trying to get into the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) or the National Theatre. The thought of being a star never occurred to me.”

”I got good grades, so she wanted me to go to university at least. But at 15 I was quite wilful and demanding. I got a scholarship to MALDA and said I’d support myself with this job and that. It was a fait accompli, you know.”

Talking about what he’d like to name his daughter, he said: “There’s an Igbo name, Obianuju, it’s a girl’s name. The translation is ‘to come into a place where there is plenty’. For me, it has always been the most beautiful name to call a child. Because we have enough, we have plenty.”



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