50 Influential People You Wouldn’t Believe Are Nigerians Part 2

21. Sade Adu

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  • Helen Folasade Adu

Helen Folasade Adu, OBE born 16 January 1959, better known as Sade (Shah-DAY), is a Nigerian-born British Singer-songwriter, composer, and Record producer. She first achieved success in the 1980s as the front-woman and lead vocalist of the Brit and Grammy Award winning English group Sade. In 2002, she received an OBE from Prince Charles at  Buckingham Palace for services to music, and she dedicated her award to “all black women in England”. In 2012, Sade was listed at number 30 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women In Music. Sade has a contralto vocal range.

Sade was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. Her middle name, Folasade, means honour confers your crown. Her parents, Adebisi Adu, a Nigerian lecturer in economics of Yoruba background, and Anne Hayes, an English district nurse, met in London, married in 1955 and moved to Nigeria. Later, when the marriage ran into difficulties, Anne Hayes returned to England, taking four-year-old Sade and her older brother Banji to live with her parents. Later on Sade and her brother lived with their grandparents just outside Colchester, Essex. When Sade was 11, she moved to Holland-on-sea, Essex to live with her mother, and after completing school at 18 she moved to London and studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art.

While in college, she joined a soul band, Pride, in which she sang backing vocals. Her solo performances of the song “Smooth Operator” attracted the attention of record companies and in 1983, she signed a solo deal with Epic Records taking three members of the band, Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Denman, with her.Sade and her band produced the first of a string of hit albums. Their debut album Diamond Life appeared in 1984. She is the most successful solo female artist in British history, having sold over 110 million albums worldwide.

In 2002, she appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s Red Hot and Riot, a compilation CD in tribute to the music of fellow Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti. She recorded a remix of her hit single, “By Your Side”, for the album and was billed as a co-producer.

22. Lemar

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  • Lemar Obika

Lemar Obika born 4 April 1978, professionally known simply as Lemar, is an English R&B singer–songwriter and record producer. Lemar has had a run of chart success in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. He rose to fame after finishing in third place on the first series of British talent show Fame Academy, which was won by songwriter David Sneddon.

Since then, Lemar has had seven top ten UK singles and sold over two million albums. He is seen as one of the most successful artists to come out of a reality TV show. Lemar has also won two Brit Awards and three MOBO Awards to date and released his fifth studio album in 2012.

Lemar Obika was born in Tottenham, North London, England to Nigerian parents from Enugu State, South Eastern Nigeria. He grew up listening to Pop and soul music. He used to sing at home with his brothers and sister, pretending to be The Jacksons.

He was 17 when he had his first concert at the Junior Jam at ‘The Temple’ in Tottenham supporting Usher.Later on he gave up an opportunity to study pharmacy at Cardiff University to pursue a musical career. Lemar had some success supporting various artists such as Destiny’s ChildTotalUncle Sam and Usher Raymond on their UK club tours and after some years, managed to secure a recording contract with BMG. Following this, he released his debut single “Got Me Saying Ooh“. His record deal with BMG fell through in less than a year due to restructuring at the record label. He had to eventually take a job working as an accounts manager at NatWest in Enfield, North London.

23. Uzodinma Iweala

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  • Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala born November 5, 1982 is an author, sociologist and physician who hails from Nigeria. His debut novel, Beasts of No Nation, is a formation of his thesis work at Harvard. It depicts a child soldier in an unnamed African country. The book, published in 2005, has received considerable critical acclaim from sources like Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times, and Rolling Stone.

The son of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Ngozi was the former Managing Director, World bank and currently the Minister of Finance for the Federal Republic of Nigeria), Iweala attended St. Albans School in Washington D.C. and also attended Harvard College at Harvard University earning an A.B., magna cum laude, in English and American Literature and Language in 2004. While at Harvard, Iweala earned the Hoopes Prize and Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis, 2004; Eager Prize for Best Undergraduate Short Story, 2003; and the Horman Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing, 2003. He is a graduate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, class of 2011. He is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

He won the New York Public Library’s 2006 Young Lions Fiction Award. In 2007, he was named as one of Granta magazine’s 20 best young American novelists.

24. Dr. Alban

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  • Alban Uzoma Nwapa

Alban Uzoma Nwapa born August 26, 1957, known by his stage name Dr. Alban, is a Nigeria-born Swedish musician and producer with his own record label dr-records. His music can best be described as a Eurodance/hip-hop reggae with a dancehall style. He sold an estimated 16 million records worldwide and is most famous for his worldwide 1992 hit “It’s My Life”.

Dr. Alban was born as Alban Uzoma Nwapa into a middle-class family of 10 children in Oguta, Imo State, Nigeria. He had his secondary education at Christ The King College, Aba, Nigeria and spent most of his youth in his hometown Oguta. At age of 23, he traveled to Sweden to study Dentistry. In order to be able to finance his studies, Dr. Alban became a DJ. He worked as a DJ at the Stockholm club Alphabet Street. Very quickly his name became widely known, especially since Dr. Alban often sang to the records he put on the turntable. DJ René couldn’t help but notice him and so he was discovered. Alban finished his studies and even opened his own dentistry practice, keeping his disk jockeying as a lucrative sideline.

In 1990, he met Denniz Pop from the SweMix label and together with Denniz and Rap-Queen Leila K, they released his first record, “Hello Africa”. Alban Uzoma Nwapa took the stage name Dr. Alban, a nod to his dental studies. His debut album Hello Africa included hits like “Hello Africa” and “No Coke”, both of which ended up being million-selling singles. The album itself was quite successful which earned Alban Gold-certification-awards in numerous markets including Germany (for sales of over 250,000 units), Austria (for sales of over 25,000 units) and Switzerland (for sales of over 25,000 units).

25. Nnamdi Asomugba

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  • Nnamdi Asomugba

Nnamdi Asomugha born July 6, 1981 is an American football cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Caifornia, Berkeley, and was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He also played for the Philadelphia Eagles. For many years he was frequently mentioned as one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL.

Asomugha was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, to Nigerian Igbo parents, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California and Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, California before transferring to and graduating from Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California, playing high school basketball and football and he’s currently married to Actress Kerry Washington.

26. Chiwetel Ejiofor

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  • Chiwetelu Umeadi Ejiofor

Chiwetelu Umeadi “Chiwetel” Ejiofor, OBE born 10 July 1977 is a British actor. He has received numerous acting awards and nominations, including the 2006 BAFTA Awards Rising Star, three ‘Golden Globe Awards’ nominations, and the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in Othello.

Ejiofor was born in London’s Forest Gate, to Nigerian parents who belonged to the Igbo ethnic group. His father, Arinze, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist. In 1988, when Ejiofor was 11, during a family trip to Nigeria for a wedding, he and his father were driving to Lagos after the celebrations when their car was involved in a head-on crash with a lorry. His father was killed, but Ejiofor survived. He was badly injured, and received the scars on his forehead. Ejiofor began acting in school plays at the age of thirteen at Dulwich College and joined the National Youth Theatre. He then got in to The London academy of music and dramatic art but had to leave after his first year, after getting a role in Steven Spielberg film Amistad. He played the title role in Othello at the Bloomsbury Theatre in September 1995, and again at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow in 1996 when he starred opposite Rachael Stirling, who played Desdemona.

Ejiofor made his film debut in the television film Deadly Voyage in 1996. He went on to become a stage actor in London. In Steven Spielberg’s Amistad, he gave support to Djimon Hounsou‘s Cinque as interpreter Ens. James Covey. In 1999, he appeared in the British film G:MT. In 2000, he starred Blue/Orange at the Royal National Theatre (Cottesloe stage 2002), and later at the Duchess Theatre. That same year, his performance as Romeo in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award. Ejiofor was awarded the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the 2000 Critic’s Circle Theatre Awards. For his performance in Blue/Orange, he received the 2000 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer and a 2001 nomination for the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award Best Supporting Actor.

Ejiofor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire(OBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours. In the same year, he made his directorial debut in the short film Slapper, which he also wrote, based on an idea by editor/director Yusuf Pirhasan. Ejiofor appeared alongside John Cusack in the 2009 film 2012. The film went on to gross over $700 million, and is among the List of highest-grossing films of all time and placing 5th of top films of 2009. In 2013, Ejiofor appeared in the leading role in the BBC Two drama series Dancing on the Edge, playing the part of band creator Louis Lester.

27. Caroline Chikezie

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  • Caroline Chikezie

Caroline Chikezie is a British actress, best known for playing Sasha Williams in As If, and Elaine Hardy in Footballers’ WivesChikezie was born in England to Nigerian parents. At fourteen, Chikezie was sent to boarding school in Nigeria in an attempt to make her abandon her dreams to become an actress. Prior to this she had attended weekend classes at Italia Conti. On her return to the United Kingdom she enrolled into Brunel University where she studied MedicinalChemistry (she was expected to take over her father’s hospital in Nigeria), but left after lecturers decided that she was unsuited to academic life. She later won a scholarship to the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. After roles in Holby CityCasualty, and the award-winning British film Babymother, Chikezie landed her first major role as bitchy Sasha Williams in As If in 2001. In 2004 she landed a regular role as Kyle Pascoe‘s girlfriend Elaine Hardy in Series Four of Footballer’s Wives. Other television work includes 40Judas KissFree Fall and Brothers and Sisters. She appeared as Lisa Hallett, a member of the secret organisation of Torchwood who had been transformed into a half-human half-Cyberman in “Cyberwoman“, an episode of Torchwood, and as Tamara, a fellow demon hunter, in the 3rd season premiere of Supernatural Chikezie has starred as Nasuada in the movie Eragon

28. Megalyn Echikunwoke

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  • Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke

Megalyn Ann Echikunwoke born May 28, 1983 is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her roles as Tara Price in CSI: Miami and Isabelle Tyler on The 4400. Echikunwoke was born in Spokane, Washington, but she was raised on a Navajo Native Ameican Reservation in Chinle, Arizona. She is the daughter of a Nigerian-Igbo father and a German/Scots-Irish American mother. She has a brother named Miki and a sister named Misty.

Echikunwoke was a series regular on the sci-fi series The 4400, as the adult version of the mysterious Isabelle Tyler. Echikunwoke left the show in 2007. Echikunwoke has also been seen in the MTV Soap Opera, Spyder Games, as Cherish Pardee, a coffee house singer and in Like Family as Danika. She also has a recurring role in the first season of 24 as Senator (and future President) David Palmer‘s daughter, Nicole. In season 7 of CSI: Miami, Echikunwoke joined the cast as the new Medical Examiner, Dr. Tara Price. She appeared on the show for one season. Echikunwoke landed a recurring role in at least three episodes of TNT’s Raising the Bar in June 2009. She played the love interest of attorney Marcus McGrath, played by J. August Richards. In 2011, Echikunwoke played Holly in the fourth season of 90210. She recently played the sultry April on Showtime‘s House of Lies and Riley Parker in the legal drama Made in Jersey on CBS. In 2013 she co-starred in the drama series Mind Games on ABC.

29. Hakeem Olajuwon

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  • Hakeem Abdul “The Dream” Olajuwon

Hakeem Abdul “The Dream” Olajuwon born January 21, 1963 is a retired Nigerian-American professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center  position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) (but closer to 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) by his own admission),  Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon traveled from his home country to play for the University of Houston under Coach Guy Lewis. Olajuwon emigrated from Nigeria to play basketball at the University of Houston under Cougars coach Guy Lewis. Olajuwon was not highly recruited and was merely offered a visit to the university to work out for the coaching staff, based on a recommendation from a friend of Lewis who had seen Olajuwon play. He later recalled that when he originally arrived at the airport in 1980 for the visit, no representative of the school was there to greet him. When he called the staff, they told him to take a taxi out to the university. His college career for the Cougars included three trips to the Final Four. At the time, he spelled his first name Akeem. Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA Draft, a draft that included Michael JordanCharles Barkley, and John Stockton. In Houston he was nicknamed “Akeem The Dream” for his grace on and off the court. He combined with the 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the “Twin Towers”. The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. After Sampson was traded to theWarriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets’ undisputed leader. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and blocks three times (1990, 1991, 1993).

Raised as a Mulim, Olajuwon became more devoted to the faith during this period and changed the spelling of his name from Akeem to Hakeem. Despite very nearly being traded during a bitter contract dispute before the 1992–93 season, he remained in Houston where in 1993–94, he became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA MVPDefensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks(avenging his college championship loss to Patrick Ewing), and Shaquille O’Neal‘s Orlando Magic. In 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States National Team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league’s all-time leader in blocks, with 3,830.

Olajuwon was born to Salim and Abike Olajuwon, middle-class Yoruba owners of a cement business in Lagos, Nigeria. “Olajuwon” translates to “always being on top” in Yoruba. He was the third of six children. He credits his parents with instilling virtues of hard work and discipline into him and his siblings; “They taught us to be honest, work hard, respect our elders, and believe in ourselves”. Olajuwon has expressed displeasure at his childhood in Nigeria being characterized as backwards. “Lagos is a very cosmopolitan city…There are many ethnic groups. I grew up in an environment at schools where there were all different types of people.”

30. Abi Olajuwon

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  • Abisola Arisicate Ajoke Olajuwon

Alon Abisola Arisicate Ajoke Olajuwon, better known as Abi Olajuwon born July 6, 1988 is an American female basketball player. Olajuwon is the daughter of former NBA center Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon’s full name means “born in wealth and loved by all”. Born in Houston, Texas, Olajuwon played varsity basketball for her Californian high school, Marlborough School, and helped her team win three consecutive Southern Section titles. Olajuwon was a 2006 McDonald’s All-American, and was one of the most prized recruits of the 2006 graduating high school class. She played college basketball at the University of Oklahoma, and ESPN basketball analyst Nancy Lieberman stated before the 2006–07 season that the addition of Olajuwon would help propel the Sooners into contention for the NCAA championship. Olajuwon has played abroad for the Romanian club CSM Satu Mare, signing a 4 months contract at the start of 2011. In 2012 she also signed with Ourinhos Basquete in Brazil.

31. Seal

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  • Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel

Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel known by his stage name Seal, is a British R&B and soulsinger-songwriter. Seal has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male in 1992, Grammy Award’s, and an MTV Video Music Award, Seal is known for his numerous international hits, including “Kiss from a Rose“, which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1995 film Batman Forever. He has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. He is a coach on The Voice Australia.

Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel was born on 19 February 1963 in Paddington, London, England to a Nigerian mother, Adebisi Samuel, and a Brazilian father, Francis Samuel. One of Seal’s middle names, Olusegun, means “God is victorious” in the Yoruba language. He was raised in a district of the City of Westminster in inner London by his foster family. He received a two-year diploma, or associate’s degree, in architecture and worked in various jobs in the London area. Although there have long been rumours  as to the cause of the scars on his face, they are in fact the result of a type of lupus called discoid lupus erythematosus – a condition that specifically affects the skin above the neck.

32.Wale

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  • Olubowale Victor Akintimehin

Olubowale Victor Akintimehin born on September 21, 1984, better known by his stage name Wale (Pronounced Wah-Lay), is an American Rapper from Washington D.C.. He rose to prominence in 2006, when his song “Dig Dug (Shake It)” became popular in his hometown. Wale became locally recognized and continued recording music for the regional audience. Producer Mark Ronson discovered Wale in 2006 and signed him to Allido Records in 2007. While signed to that label, Wale released several mixtapes and appeared in national media including MTV and various urban magazines.

Wale, a Nigerian American, was born Olubowale Victor Akintimehin in Northwest, Washington, D.C. on September 21, 1984. His parents are of the Yoruba ethnic group of southwestern Nigeria and came to the United States from Austria in 1979. Wale’s family first lived inNorthwest, Washington, D.C  before moving to Montgomery County when Wale was 10. He is the cousin of actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, best known as Chris Partlow on HBO’s The Wire and the British producer Maleek Berry.

33. Chamillionaire

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  • Hakeem Seriki

Hakeem Seriki born November 28, 1979,  better known by his stage name Chamillionaire, is an American rapper and entrepreneur from Houston, Texas. He is the CEO of Chamillitary Entertainment. Chamillionaire was also the founder and an original member of The Color Changin’ Click until the group split in 2005. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Chamillionaire has an estimated net worth of $15,000,000.

He began his career independently with local releases in 2002, including collaboration album Get Ya Mind Correct with fellow Houston rapper and childhood friend Paul Wall. He signed to Universal Records in 2005 and released The Sound of Revenge under Universal. It included hit singles “Turn It Up” featuring Lil’ Flip and the number-one, Grammy-winning hit “Ridin’” featuring Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs-n-HarmonyUltimate Victory followed in 2007, which was notable for not containing any profanity. In early 2011, he left Universal Records, which would lead to his would-be third album, Venom, to go unreleased. Seriki’s stage name Chamillionaire is a portmanteau of “chameleon” and “millionaire”

34. Dayo Okeniyi

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  • Oludayo Okeniyi

Oladayo. A. Okeniyi born June 14, 1988 is a Nigerian-born actor,  popularly known for playing the role of Thresh in The Hunger Games. Dayo was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and has five siblings. His father is a retired customs officer from Nigeria, and his mother is a Literature teacher from Kenya. In 2003, he moved with his family to Indiana from Nigeria and later moved to California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in visual communications at Anderson University (Indiana) in 2009. Prior to being cast in The Hunger Games, Okeniyi worked in local theatre and in film shorts.

35. Donald Faison

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  • Donald Adeosun Faison

Donald Adeosun Faison born June 22, 1974 is a Nigerian-American actor, comedian, and voice actor best known for his role as Dr. Chris Turk in the ABC (formerly NBC) comedy-drama Scrubs (2001–2010) as a leading role, and as Murray in the film Clueless(1995) playing a minor role (reprise in the subsequent television series of the same name). He is a star of the TV Land situation comedy The Exes.

Faison has also co-starred in the films Remember the Titans (2000), Uptown Girls (2003), Something New (2006), Next Day Air (2009) and Kick-Ass 2 (2013). Faison was born in Harlem, New York, the son of Shirley, a talent agent, and Donald Faison, a building manager. His parents were active with the National Black Theatre in Harlem. Faison was married to Lisa Askey from 2001 to 2005. After six years of dating, Faison married his second wife, CaCee Cobb, on December 15, 2012. The wedding was held at the home of Faison’s former Scrubs co-star and best friend Zach Braff, who also served as a groomsman. Serving as a bridesmaid was singer Jessica Simpson, for whom Cobb formerly worked as a personal assistant. Faison has five children: son Sean (born 1997), from a previous relationship; son Dade and daughter Kaya (fraternal twins, born 1999) and son Kobe (born 2001), with Askey; and son Rocco (born 2013), with Cobb.

36. Akbar Gbaja-Biamila

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  • Akbar Oluwakemi-Idowu Gbaja-Biamila

Akbar Oluwakemi-Idowu Gbaja-Biamila born May 6, 1979 is a former Nigerian-American football defensive end, who currently works as a sports analyst for NBC and NFL Network. He was signed by the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 2003. He played College Football at San Diego state. He currently works forNBC Sports as a college football analyst. During the football off season Gbajabiamila heads Rush the Passer a comprehensive defensive line training program preparing college/professional defensive linemen to elevate their skills. Gbaja-Biamila has also played for the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. He is the younger brother of former Green Bay Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

37. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila

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  • Muhammed -Kabeer Olanrewaju Gbaja0Biamila

Muhammed-Kabeer Olanrewaju Gbaja-Biamila born September 24, 1977, nicknamed “KGB“, is an American football defensive end who played nine seasons in the National Football League(NFL). He played College football at San Diego State. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, and played his entire career for the Packers. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2003. Gbaja-Biamila attended Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, California and was a student and a three-year letterman in football and track and field. In football, as a senior, he was named the Central City Defensive Lineman of the Year.

While attending Crenshaw High School, Gbaja-Biamila was a student-owner of Food From the Hood, an organic food company that sprang from the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Food From the Hood eventually went on to launch a line of salad dressings that appeared in all major Southern California grocery chains as well as on Amazon.com. For their work, Food From the Hood received the “American Achievement Award” from Newsweek, which featured both Gbaja-Biamila on its cover. On November 1, 1994 Prince Charles paid a visit to Crenshaw High School, upon an invitation from Food From The Hood.

38. Bola Agbaje

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  •  Bola Agbaje

Bola Agbaje born 1981 is an award-winning British Playwright of Nigerian origin, who is under commission with Paines Plough and Tiata Fahodzi. Agbaje was born in London. She briefly lived in Nigeria from the age of six to eight but now lives in Greewich. She has a degree in media communications and was formerly an actress. Her first play, Gone Too Far!, premièred at the Royal Court Theatre in London in February 2007 and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliated theatre (2008). Due to the play’s success it was revived at a number of theatres in 2008: the Royal Court Theatre,Albany Theatre and Hackney Empire. She is currently adapting Gone too Far into a film script and has received development funding from the UK Film Council.

39. Akinnuoye-Agbaje

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  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje born 22 August 1967 is a British actor and former fashion model, best known for his roles as Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns, Nykwana Wombosi in The Bourne IdentityMr. Eko on Lost and Simon Adebisi on Oz. Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in Islington, London. His parents are Nigerian , of Yoruba origin. He has a law degree from King’s College London and a Masters in Law from the University of London.

His best known acting roles have been as the imposing convict Simon Adebisi in the 1990s HBO prison series Oz, and as Mr. Eko on ABC’s survivor drama Lost. He was also in an episode of New York Undercover. He has numerous film credits since he began acting in 1994 and has appeared in many top films, including The Bourne Identity, in which he played a deposed African dictator, Hitu the police officer in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns, and Heavy Duty in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. In 2009, Akinnuoye-Agbaje told MTV that he was in talks with Marvel Studios to play the superhero Black Panther in aa proposed film of the same name. When asked, the actor replied “…it’s about time we have a black superhero, isn’t it? He’s from a fictional village in Africa and the timing is so right for that kind of character to come through… And while I’m in my prime, this is the time. We’ve got [U.S. President Barack] Obama, now we need something onscreen to represent, so… ‘Panther,’ man I would love to see that happen […] I think it’s all about campaigning, I’m going to keep knocking on their door.”

Akinnuoye-Agbaje has also stated that he will be directing a film about his life story. More recently, he guest starred in the second episode of season 8 of Monk, and played Derek Jameson in the 2011 film The Thing. He portrayed Kurse in the Marvel Studios filmThor: The Dark World. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a Buddhist and a member of Sōka Gakkai International.

40. Kehinde Wiley

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  • Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley born 1977  is a New York-based Portrait painter, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of people with black and brown skin in heroic poses.  Kehinde Wiley was born in Los Angeles, California in 1977. His father is Yoruba from Nigeria, and his mother is African-American. As a child, his mother supported his interest in art and enrolled him in after school art classes, and at the age of 12, he spent a short time at an art school in Russia. Wiley did not grow up with his father, and at the age of 20 he traveled to Nigeria to explore his roots and meet him.

He earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1999 and his MFA from Yale University, School of Art in 2001. Wiley’s painting style has been compared to that of such traditional portraitists as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian and Ingres. The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work with the following: “Kehinde Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture.”

41. Taio Cruz

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  • Jacob Taio Cruz

Jacob Taio Cruz born 23 April 1985, known professionally as Taio Cruz, is a Nigerian-British singer-songwriter, record producer, occasional rapper, and entrepreneur. Taio Cruz was born in London to a Nigerian father and a Brazilian mother from the state of Minas Gerais. In 2008, he released his debut album Departure, which he wrote, arranged and produced himself. It achieved initial success in the United Kingdom and earned him a MOBO Award nomination.

In October 2009, Cruz released his follow-up album Rokstarr, which includes the number one singles “Break Your Heart” and “Dynamite“. Cruz has collaborated with Kesha and Fabolous on the single “Dirty Picture“, as well as Kylie Minogue and Travie McCoyon his single “Higher“.  Cruz was born in London, to a Nigerian father and a Brazillian mother. Cruz began writing songs when he was 12, Cruz is the founder and chief executive of Rokstarr Music London, which in 2006 released his debut single “I Just Wanna Know“.

42. Omarosa Manigault

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  • Omaroseonee Manigault

Omarosa born Omaroseonee Manigault, February 15, 1974 is a reality game show and reality show personality.She was a contestant on the first season of Donald Trump‘s original American version of The Apprentice. She later returned for the TV series sequel, Celebrity Apprentice, and the All-Stars edition of the show.  TV Guide included her in their 2013 list of The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time. Omarosa was born in Youngstown,Ohio; her father is of Yoruba Nigerian descent. Omarosa’s father was murdered when she was seven years old. In 2011, Omarosa’s brother, Jack, was also murdered. On August 13, 2010, Omarosa confirmed that she was dating actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who she had met in the produce section of a Whole Foods supermarket.In July 2012, she found that Duncan was suffering a heart attack and attempted to perform CPR. It is unknown if Duncan regained consciousness from her CPR or the efforts of the EMS. He never fully recovered from the heart attack, and died on September 3, 2012, after having spent two months in the hospital.

43. David Oyelowo

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  • David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo born 1 April 1976 is a Nigerian-British actor. Oyelowo was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England to Nigerian parents. He first attended a youth theatre after being invited by a girl to whom he was attracted. He then studied theatre studies for A level at City and Islington College and his teacher suggested he should become an actor. After A levels Oyelowo enrolled for a year on an art foundation course, before winning a place and scholarship at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art(LAMDA), finishing his three-year training in 1998.

44. Tunde Baiyewu

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  • Bababtunde Emmanuel Baiyewu

Tunde Baiyewu born Babatunde Emanuel Baiyewu, 25 November 1968 is a British Singer of Nigerian descent and is a member of the easy listening duo, Lighthouse Family. In 2004 he embarked on a solo career, releasing the album Tunde, and in 2013 released his second album, Diamond in a Rock. Tunde Baiyewu was born in London, but moved to Nigeria at the age of five after the death of his father. Ten years later he returned to Britain, attending the University of Northumbria in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and obtained a degree in accounting. He subsequently met Paul Tucker who was also studying at Newcastle Northumbria University and was working at the same bar as Tunde – their partnership began and they formed Lighthouse Family.

In 2005, he appeared on the BBC Television one-off special, Strictly African Dancing. He came last, but he learned the Bata dance in the process. In March 2007, Baiyewu married Tope Adeshina, a young Nigerian model, in Lagos, Nigeria. They live in the UK while his mother went on to marry former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who, like both her and Baiyewu himself, is of the Yoruba ethnic group.

45. Tinie Tempah

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  • Patrick Junior Chukwuemeka Okogwu

Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu born 7 November 1988,  better known by his stage name Tinie Tempah, is an English rapper. He released his first mixtape in 2005; his first album, Disc-Overy, debuted at number one in the UK in October 2010 and was preceded by two British number-one singles. In February 2011, he won two Brit Awards for Best British Breakthrough Act and Best British Single[3]

In November 2013, he released his second album, titled Demonstration, preceded by singles “Trampoline” and “Children of the Sun“, which debuted at number three and six in the UK respectively. Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu was born in London, England, on 7 November 1988, to parents from Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria. At 12 years old, Okogwu conceived his stage name under which to make music after viewing the music video for So Solid Crew‘s “21 Seconds“. Okogwu used a thesaurus in class, juxtaposing “tempah” (temper), which he saw under “angry”, with “tinie” (tiny), to ameliorate the aggressive sound of “tempah”.

Regarding his London upbringing, Tempah states, “London is one of the only places in the world where you can live in a council block and see a beautiful semi-detached house across the street. Growing up around that was inspirational, it kept me motivated”.

46. Hakeem Kae-Kazeem

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  • Hakeem Kae-Kazim

Hakeem Kae-Kazim born 1 October 1962, sometimes credited as “Hakim Kae Kazim”,  is a British-Nigerian actor who is best known for his portrayal of Georges Rutaganda in the 2004 motion picture Hotel Rwanda. He also starred as Colonel Iké Dubaku inseason 7 of the Fox television series 24 and the TV film tie-in 24: Redemption.

Kae-Kazim has landed role in movies like:

47. Sophie Okonedo

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  • Sophie Okonedo

Sophie Okonedo, OBE born 1968,  is a British actress, who has starred in UK and US productions. In 1991, she made her acting debut in the British coming-of-age drama, Young Soul Rebels. She has received an Academy Award nomination for her critically acclaimed role in Hotel Rwanda, a Golden Globe nomination for Tsunami: The Aftermath, and BAFTA nominations for Criminal Justice and Mrs. Mandela. Her other film roles included Aeon FluxAce Ventura: When Nature CallsDirty Pretty ThingsSkin and The Secret Life of Bees.

Okonedo was born in London, the daughter of Joan (née Allman), a pilates teacher, and Henry Okonedo (1939–2009), who worked for the government. Her father was Nigerian, and her mother, an Ashkenazi Jew, was born in the East-End, to Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Poland and Russia. Okonedo was brought up in her mother’s Jewish faith. When she was five years old, her father left the family, and she was brought up in relative poverty by her single mother (“but we always had books,” she has said).

Okonedo was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Okonedo has three children, from a previous relationship. They live in Muswell Hill, London. On her heritage, Sophie says, “I feel as proud to be Jewish as I feel to be black” and calls her daughter an “Irish, Nigerian Jew”. Her father Henry died on 22 July 2009 in Orlando, Florida, USA.

48. Femi Oke

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  • Femi Oke

Femi Oke born 30 June 1966 is a British television presenter and journalist. Femi was born in Britain to Nigerian parents of theYoruba ethnic group. She is a graduate of Birmingham University where she received a bachelors degree in English literature and language. She used to appear as a daily newscaster, contributor and interviewer on Public Radio International/WNYC’s morning public radio news program, The Takeaway. Currently. she hosts The Stream on Al Jazeera English. She is also the sister of Fumni Oke, a teacher. Oke is a former anchor for CNN International‘s World Weather service at the network’s global headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. She presented weather segments for the programs Your World Today and World News. She also regularly hosted Inside Africa, now fronted by Errol Barnett, a programme that looks into the economic, social and cultural affairs and trends in Africa.

Femi began her career at age 14 working as a junior reporter for the United Kingdom’s first talk radio station LBC. During 1993 Femi worked for a cable station called Wire TV, this was pre-Janet Street Porter’s L!VE TV. Femi presented several shows for the station, including the popular Soap on the Wire on a Saturday afternoon, with soap opera expert Chris Stacey. In the early 1990s, Femi presented the BBC’s flagship educational science programme Science In Action and was also a presenter of Top of the Pops. She has also worked for GMTV, London Weekend Television, Men & Motors and Carlton Television. She joined CNN in 1999, and worked there until 2008. She has accepted an invitation to teach on behalf of the World Meteorological Organization in Buenos, Aires, Argentina, conducted guest lectures forEmory University in Atlanta and been a guest speaker at the United Nations, addressing the World Food Programme in Rome, Italy.

49. Gabriel Agbonlahor

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  • Gabriel Agbonlahor

Gabriel Imuetinyan Agbonlahor born 13 October 1986is an English footballer who plays for Aston Villa as a striker and a winger, and was the team’s interim captain for part of the 2011–12 season. Agbonlahor is a product of Aston Villa’s Academy and has earned three caps for the England national team. He is Aston Villa‘s all-time leading Premier League goalscorer.

Agbonlahor was one of four children born to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother in Birmingham. However his parents separated while he was still young and he lived with his father, without any contact with his mother for around 20 years. In 2009, ahead of the striker’s 23rd birthday, his mother made a public appeal to him via the Sunday Mercurynewspaper, in order to become part of his life once more.[59][dead link] Agbonlahor later contacted his mother and the pair reconciled.[60][dead link] Agbonlahor’s brother, Charisma, plays as a striker for Midlands Combination Premier League side Earlswood Town FC.[61][62]

50. Carmen Ejogo

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  • Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo

Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo born 1 January 1973 is a British television and film actress and singer, currently based in the United States. Born and raised in London, Ejogo is the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Ejogo née Douglas. Her father was Nigerian and her mother was Scottish. During her childhood, Ejogo remembers her mother as being “a bit of a hippie”. Her younger brother is also named Charles Ejogo. She attended the Oratory Primary Roman Catholic primary school in Chelsea until 1984. Ejogo was briefly married to trip-hop mastermind Tricky in 1998 and after her divorce with Tricky she re-married in August 2000 to American actor Jeffrey Wright, whom she met while they were making the HBO film Boycott. They live in Brooklyn, New York and have two children.

  • Adaora udoji

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  • Adaora Udoji

Adaora Udoji is a Nigerian-Irish American who is a 2013 Pipeline Fund Fellow. The Pipeline Fund is focused on angel investing. She is a mentor for WIM, Women Innovate Mobile and an advisor to several start-up companies. She serves on the board of the Montclair Film Festival and is a member of the advisory board for Women at NBC Universal.

Udoji founded The Boshia Group, a network of content and operational strategists, producers and storytellers. An award winning journalist, Udoji is a graduate of UCLA School of Law. She is among a small group of journalists who have worked in network and cable news, as well as public radio. She’s lived on three continents including Africa, Europe and North America; and holds dual American & Irish citizenship. Born to father Godfrey Udoji, former chief engineer for the city of Dearborn, Michigan, and mother Mary, former director of Washtenaw County Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2002, she married fellow television journalist Ron Allen of NBC News.

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24 thoughts on “50 Influential People You Wouldn’t Believe Are Nigerians Part 2

  1. Wonderful list. More and more successfull Nigerians and part Nigerians are being born daily. I am Slovakian married to my wonderful Igbo husband for over 25 years and our beloved, beautiful children are proud to beautiful combination of Nigerian and Slovakian. God bless.

    Like

  2. This is a Brillant piece and as a young Nigerian myself I’ll like to point out that articles like this overrides every negative notion anybody/country can have about us. We are a country truly bless by God and in as much as we have our bad side we are also wonderful and hardworking people too.

    Like

    1. Thanks and to be sincere that was my aim, apart from the constant negative review we get from the outside world and the media we are most definitely one of the most welcoming country on earth too.

      Like

      1. You go girl! Those who worry about the ethnic backgrounds of the persons you have profiled are ethnic bigots and worse still they need to brush up on their elementary school English. The title of your piece is in plain English maybe they need to read the title again.

        Like

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