My Igbo Name Opens Many Doors – Chiwetel Ejiofor | Independent Newspapers Limited
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My Igbo Name Opens Many Doors – Chiwetel Ejiofor

Posted: Oct 5, 2015 at 1:07 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


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 said.

“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 (mother) wanted me to go to university at least. But at 15 I was quite willful 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.”