The 90s and 2000s were great for Nollywood, producing some of the most iconic movies in the history of Nigerian entertainment. Both eras gave birth to memorable movies like “Nneka The Pretty Serpent”, “Living in Bondage”, “Glamour Girls”, “Silent Night,” and “Igodo”. There were also a few unforgettable TV shows like “Papa Ajasco” and “Fuji House of Commotion”.
Many years later, these movies and characters are still relevant to Nigerian pop culture, creating a template for what we now see very often on screen. Some of these iconic characters, however, are more recent, like Funke Akindele’s Jenifa. A character that birthed a production empire. Most of these characters were so legendary, they became the identity of these actors and were even more known that the actor’s real names.
Here is a list of Nollywood movie characters that have been etched into sands of time.
1. Mama G
Mama G, G for General is arguable the most popular Nollywood movie character of all time. Played by the legendary Patience Ozokwo. Mama G was a middle aged woman who refuse to accept that she had crossed her years of going wild parties, drinking, wearing skimpy outfits in bright colours/make up and being a nuisance in general. Patience played that role so well that the character “Mama G” had its own franchise of movies. Till today, the character has become Patience Ozokwo’s identity.
2. Mr Ibu
Played by John Okafor, Mr Ibu was a comedic character known for his mischief, stupidity lousiness and drunken behaviour and to crown it all up his womanizing ways. Just like Mama G, Mr Ibu struck a strong cord in the hearts of the audience by his facial expressions, infamous petty one-liners and unbridled comedy. This led to a long list of Mr Ibu sequels and spin-offs.
3. Papa Ajasco
Produced by Wale Adenuga, the aforementioned Papa Ajasco-led series revolved around a typical Nigerian home everyone could relate to. Papa Ajasco’s daily antics which included hitting his bald head while saying his catchphrase ‘Ojigbijigbijigbi’ is just one of the reasons why it became one of the most-watched series in the country.
4. Baba Suwe
This character is troublesome, foul-mouthed, and old, paints his face black, wears trousers with local belts, colourful gloves and a cap. It was first played by veteran Nollywood actor Babatunde Omidina in the TV Comedy drama, ‘Erinkeke’. The character has become so popular since then and is a fan favourite for Nollywood Yoruba.
5. Aki and Pawpaw
If you have been on Obasanjo’s internet in the last year you will know that this dynamic duo have become international sensations. They are used as memes and gifs by brands and people all around the world after snippets of their movies were made viral on twitter. They even had a twitter account dedicated scenes from several movies from this two comedic actors
We were first introduced to these characters, played by Chinedu Ikedieze as “Aki” and Osita Iheme as ‘PawPaw” in the 2002 comedy movie, Aki Na Ukwa. The mischievous brothers quickly became a household favourite as the two reprised their roles in several other movies for over a decade. Their synergy in mischief and witty lines are what legends are made of. In fact, it took a while for audiences to get used to seeing them act in movies separately.
Nkem Owoh played this funny and boisterous character for the first time in the 2003 Kingsley Ogoro film, Osuofia in London. Renowned for his weird and interestingly worded insults, this larger than life character was so unique that viewers could not get enough of him. The movie was such a hit that it lead to release of an album, sequels, spinoffs. Producers specifically requested him to always bring the character to life in whatever role he was given because everyone loved Osuofia in action. This cemented the character in the heart of Nollywood fans and Nigerians in general. Osuofia in London also started the ‘in London’ movement in Nollywood.
Funke Akindele became known in the Nigerian movie industry for her role as the brilliant and inquisitive young girl in the educational series, I Need To Know. This changed after she starred in the 2008 Nigerian comedy-drama film, Jenifa. The character was so well received by Nollywood audiences that it gave birth to a comedy series “Jenifa’s Diary” which has run for 15 seasons.
8. Boy Alinco
A Nigerian sitcom called “Papa Ajasco and Company” started airing in 1996. It wasn’t long before a character named Boy Alinco stood out. Who can forget his trademark one step backwards and two steps forward movement? And the quadruple framed glasses? Every week, families all over the country tuned in to watch the skinny, suspenders-wearing boy Alinco and the rest of the cast. This show made the childhood of most 90’s Nigerian kids.
9. Chief Fuji – Fuji House of Commotion
Chief Fuji was played by Kunle Bamtefa. Produced by Amaka Igwe, Chief Fuji was not only hilarious because of how he reacted to problematic situations around him, he was also loved because of how he lampooned similar cases like his in the Nigerian society. Originally a member of the cast of Checkmate, Chief Fuji got his show after the Fuji House spin-off, making him a character that worked in a soap and a sitcom. No wonder his favorite phrase, ‘ma begi fun e’ was such a national anthem at a time.