John Ikechukwu Okafor are his real names but coincidentally, Mr Ibu that his fans and admirers also call him as his stage name happens to be his grandfather’s name that was transferred to him. He opened up to us on his pathetic experience, his embarrassing moments, his glo ambassadorship deal, AGN among other interesting issues…
Lots of your fans and admirers know you as Mr Ibu, what are your real names?
My names are John Ikechukwu Okafor. Ibu has been a name that my grandfather had been bearing before I came into this earth and I took after him.
What’s the meaning of Ibu?
It means heavy load..(general laughter)
Why did they transfer the heavy loads of your grandfather to you?
Because it’s a name.
At what point did you join the acting industry?
It was in 1978, then it was only TV drama and soap operas.
What motivated you into acting?
I love seeing people on television and I was telling myself that one day, somebody must see me on television too and when it happens, I would faint. That was my ambition then.
What have been the challenges so far in the industry?
There have been lots of challenges. The early marketers of movies ventured into the business they didn’t know much about. The actors made sure they put in their best to produce good movies but the marketers were making the profit. If the actor did a good job, he would see the effect in the sale of his movie.
Did you start as a stage actor or movie actor?
I started as a movie actor after the TV drama and soap opera.
Why did you choose comedy?
Comedy role is a stereotype but I can still act other roles if given to me. There is a way and manner we were taught on how to interpret roles and if I’m given a character, I would develop an attitude to it and put in my best.At times, we are being corrected if the director thinks otherwise and we follow his instructions.Then as a comedian, our job is to make people laugh. I have kinds of manners that can convince people to laugh.
When you are serious, people don’t take you serious. That’s why I said it’s a stereotyped role. Anytime I’m serious, people don’t take me serious; at times, when you try to say hello to some people, they think I want to use them for comedy.
Your picture was seen in the internet, touching a pregnant woman’s stomach; was that a location picture or your wife’s picture?
I was in that picture with my second wife.
What happened to your first wife?
We had divorced. I divorced her in 1996 and remarried in 1998.
By now you should have been a grandfather?
Yes, my first son has two babies.
How did you conceive the idea of double-double promo you did for one company?
That Double-Double promo is a concept for GoTV.
How do you feel being a Glo Ambassador?
I’m happy being a Glo Ambassador because of the honour I get outside the shores of this country. We are being recognized if we travel out of the country.
Tell us about your background
I come from a very poor family. In fact, we were one of the poorest in our village. Do you know how I classify poverty; it is amazing when you rent a house in your own village. We could not afford to build our house in the village. It is ridiculous.
Where do you hail from?
I’m from Enugu State but my father was poisoned by his best friend and he died. And before he died, he left a message that we should go and call his callous friend. “Tell him he was responsible for my death” and we went there; we called him, it was confirmed that my father died in agony but I don’t want to say much on it.
When did your father die?
He died in 1976 and I still feel the pains when I see the children of the man that killed my father.
You must have lost count of the movies you featured in but have you produced your own movie?
I’ve been producing my movies. I produced Allegation, Fingers, Front Page, among others.
How do you cope with women who want to get intimate with you despite the fact that you are married?
I love women so much because my mother gave us orientation that a man should not beat his wife. She said any man that beats a woman would go to hell. I would never beat a woman.
If you want to enjoy yourself, what kind of drink do you take or cigarette?
I neither drink alcohol nor smoke cigarette. Besides, I don’t womanize.
How did you meet your new wife?
I met her the way people use to meet now. She is a beautiful lady and had been involved in many beauty contests. I happened to be part of the judges in some of the pageantries she contested for. At times, she came first or second but I’ve been watching her that one day; I would get her.
So what attracted her to you?
Her beauty and calmness. She is very calculative. She is the best wife any man could get. She has some pet names she calls me and if she does, I feel happy.
Which movie shot you into the limelight?
I did Agony, Uncle Wayward and Jealousy.
Are you fulfilled as an actor?
I thank God; I can afford any type of car I want now.
How will you describe Glo chairman, Mike Adenuga?
He is a very humble and nice man. When my mum died, he called me and sympathized with me.
Can you share your most embarrassing moments with us?
It was when a crowd somewhere in Delta State surrounded me, I instructed the security men that they should allow them get close to me because some were shouting and some were even crying. In that crowd, I just heard knock on my head, it pained me, as I just tried to move, another five people stepped forward and another knock came on my head again. Nobody told me before I took off from the crowd.
Another embarrassing moment was in Warri when a lady walked up to me and said “I’ve promised myself that any day I see you, I’m going to slap you”., I thought she was joking and I showed her my jaw and she slapped me.
What’s your take on the tussle in Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN)?
AGN has not been stable all this while because of quest for leadership and power. Power intoxicates some people. We are begging God that in due time, we are going to have peace in our midst. Personally, I saw the issue in AGN as a family problem and in our family, we are still going to settle because most of us are learned but some didn’t go to school while some are lettered to the core and reasonable. Having said that, I think we would make peace.
Do you have interest in the leadership of AGN?
No, I’m not contesting for anything; I’m only supporting the guild to ensure its growth. I single handedly operated Nollywood in South Africa. I brought home all the necessary things to the National Board of Trustees of AGN. In London, I did the same thing and brought in all the documents. If I don’t have love for the industry; I won’t be doing that on my own. I have not collected anything in making this sacrifice but I put in my own money to support it.
I handed every kobo given to me to the guild correctly. If we are having quarrels, it’s just a communication gap and lack of understanding. We are like a family and we are not supposed to quarrel.