Like father like child: Nigerian entertainment patriarchs pass torch to children

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Ademola Olonilua

It is often the pride of a father to see his offspring toe his path, especially if he is a pathfinder in the industry. Their joy stems from the fact that when most of these veterans begun their careers, they were seen as people who had no future ambition. Often, these patriarchs were disowned by their parents simply because they wanted to pursue their passion.

The PUNCH highlights some living entertainment patriarchs whose children have toed their path.

Pete Edochie

Pete Edochie

Chief Pete Edochie is a national award recipient. Born on March 7, 1947, he is considered as one of Africa’s most talented actors having been honoured with an Industry Merit Award by Africa Magic and Lifetime Achievement by Africa Film Academy.

Although a seasoned administrator and broadcaster, he came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s all-time best-selling novel, Things Fall Apart.

In an interview, he revealed that he had been acting since he was 15 years old. “The very first time I went on stage was in 1962 when I was 15 years old as a student of Saint John College, Kaduna and we dramatised aspects of the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. I have been doing that ever since before I got into broadcasting and then full time acting,” he said.

Married to Josephine, the movie legend’s sons, Link and Yul, have joined him in the craft.

Speaking on his children becoming actors, Edochie said, “My last son studied theatre arts; the one immediately before that studied architecture while the one before him studied fine and applied arts. Two of them have already joined me in the industry ― Link and Yul ― and they are very fine actors.”

He has starred in blockbusters like Lion Heart, Full Moon, and Billionaires club, among many others.

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Adebayo Salami

Adebayo Salami

Fondly referred to as Oga Bello by his friends, family and fans, the 68-year-old actor is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the Nigerian film industry.

When asked about how many wives he has in interviews, the actor evades the question but he is a proud father of 18 children. He has made a name for himself in the film industry and at least four of his children; Femi Adebayo, Tope Adebayo, Sodiq Adebayo and Rilwan Adebayo are also very popular brands in the movie industry, while some of his other offspring are in different aspects of entertainment.

In an interview, he noted that he never pressured his children to become actors. “No, I didn’t impose anything on them. It’s out of their passion for it. And I thank God, they’re all doing well,” Oga Bello said.

The Kwara State-born thespian began his acting career in 1964 with a group called Young Concert Party under the leadership of Ojo Ladipo, popularly known as Baba Mero.

After a few years, the group changed its name to Ojo Ladipo Theatre Group and later metamorphosed into Awada Kerikeri Theatre Group.

Following the demise of Ojo Ladipo in 1978, Salami took the mantle of leadership of the group, which brought him into the limelight.

He was a pioneer member of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners and also served as president of the association.

He is famed for his role in movies like Omo Ghetto, Jenifa, Owo Blow among many others.

Jide Kosoko

Jide Kosoko

Prince Jide Kosoko is an actor other actors see as a father figure. Ever wearing a smile, the 67-year-old actor has about three children who have toed his path as an actor, and like their father, they have become a household name. Popular among them is the trio, Sola, Bidemi and Tunji Kosoko.

When Kosoko began his career at 10, his parents were a stumbling block for him because they believed that as a prince his meant to entertained and not be the entertainer. Speaking about the early days of his career in an interview, he said, “I started acting precisely in 1964; I think I was just 10. You know what that means especially at a time when parents didn’t allow their children to venture into acting.”

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Married to about three wives, the proud father is ever joyous that his kids have accepted the baton from him. He noted, “I feel so happy about it because it goes a long way to say that I have been institutionalised. I have passed the baton on to them and they will also pass it to one or two of their children. Once it continues like this, our name will remain indelible.”

He has featured in blockbuster movies like The Figurine, Jenifa 1&2, Sugar Rush among many others.

Ebenezer Obey

Nicknamed the ‘Chief Commander’, 78-year-old jùjú musician is a national award recipient for his contribution to the Nigerian music industry. He began his professional career in the mid-1950s after moving to Lagos.

After tutelage under Fatai Rolling-Dollar’s band, he formed a band called The International Brothers in 1964, playing highlife–jùjú fusion. The band later metamorphosed into Inter-Reformers in the early-1970s with a long list of Juju album hits on the West African Decca musical label.

He is also renowned for Christian spiritual themes in his music and has since the early-1990s retired into Nigerian gospel music ministry.

Obey married his wife Lady Evangelist Juliana Olaide Olufade in 1963. She died on August 23, 2011, at 67. They have several children and grandchildren.

His son, Tolu, is evidently a chip off the old block as his singing pattern is similar to Ebenezer Obey’s. Also, the veteran singer’s grandchildren seem eager to be handed over the torch as five of them are musicians.

The juju singer is elated about the development as he expressed his joy in a recent interview. He said, “I consider myself to be one of the luckiest persons alive. Many of my grandchildren are involved in music and I know that they have bright futures. It makes me so happy. If I come back to this world again, I would still like to become a musician.

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“My son, Tolu, has patterned his music after mine. He is doing very well and I’m proud of him. I also encourage him to do more. Even my grandson, Ladi, has also taken to juju music and he is doing very well too. At times, he sings with me and it’s apparent he has a bright future.

“My other grandchildren doing music include Laolu, David, Niran and Timi. I am very happy that they are all doing well. I’m looking forward to seeing them becoming great musicians and surpassing my achievements.”

King Sunny Ade

King Sunny Ade
King Sunny Ade

Born, Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye on born September 22, 1946, the national award recipient is known professionally as King Sunny Adé.

The jùjú singer is also a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is regarded as one of the first African pop musicians to gain international success and has been called one of the most influential musicians of all time.

He started his career when he joined the highlife band of the late Moses Olaiya, Federal Rhythm Dandies. After seven years, he branched out and formed his own band, The Green Spots, which was later renamed African Beats then later to Golden Mercury.

Famed for his classic guitar touches and smooth dance steps, he released his debut album, Juju Music, in 1982. A year later, he released his sophomore album, Syncro System, both under Island Records. His album, Syncro System, earned him his first Grammy Award nomination. In 1988, he released the album, Odu, and it won him his second Grammy Award nomination.

Although no one knows how many wives he has because he is known as a ladies’ man, a picture of seven of his wives once surfaced the internet in 2018. It is gathered that at least 15 of his children are also musicians.

Kollington Ayinla

Kollington Ayinla

68-year-old veteran Fuji maestro, Kollington Ayinla, fondly referred to as General, definitely got to the peak of his career even though he initially wanted to become a soldier. In fact, he began his career as a military man before dumping his gun for the microphone.

He certainly rose to the peak of his career as a Fuji singer as he rose in ranks alongside his friend and competitor, Ayinde Barrister. The duo were the most important artists to dominate Fuji music from its inception in the 1970s through to the 1990s, by which time it had grown to become one of the most popular dance genres in Nigeria.

Although he has several wives, none of them lives with the singer.

During his career, he had an amorous relationship with the famous singer, Salawa Abeni, who was crowned as the Queen of Waka music by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, in 1992.

They had three children before they parted ways. One of the children, Big Sheff, is a popular rap artiste and has featured on one of Kollginton’s albums.

Femi Anikulapo Kuti

Femi Anikulapo Kuti

Although, Femi is the son of the late legendary afrobeat singer, Fela Anikulapo Kuti; he had to carve a niche for himself in the music industry the hard way.

Femi joined the massed ranks of Fela’s band, playing at the Shrine and touring across the world, even though, unlike his father, he had no formal musical training.

He proved such a success that, in 1984, at the age of 21, he suddenly found himself leading his father’s band at the Hollywood Bowl, while his dad was in jail once again

After his father was released, Femi quit, declared that he had been underpaid for his efforts and that he wanted to explore his own form of afrobeat.

Father and son didn’t speak for nearly five years until one emotional night at the Shrine when they were reunited, both personally and musically,

Femi said in an interview, “Though a lot of those around him didn’t want us to be friends, whenever I went to his house, he’d tell me what his close associates had been saying about me.”

Although Femi hardly talks about his marital life, he has a son, Made, with his ex-wife, Funke.

Today, Femi’s son, Made has taken the mantle from his father who is a four-time Grammy Awards nominee. He is a member of his father’s Positive Force band.

Already, Made’s song, Legacy, is enjoying massive reviews and he been mentioned as the next in line to take his grandfather’s legacy to a greater height.

Zack Orji

Zack Orji

Popular Nigerian filmmaker and actor, Zack Orji, came to our subconscious through the impeccable way he portrays his roles in movies. Unknown to some, he wears many hats as the actor is also a pastor and a singer.

Born Zachee Ama Orji, in Libreville, Gabon, in the 1960s, the actor is a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Having grown up in Cameroon, Benin and Togo, he speaks both English and French fluently. His first movie was in 1991 in the film, Unforgiven Sin. Ever since, Orji has starred in different movies and is now a Nollywood legend.

He is married to Ngozi and together they have three children and live in Nigeria.

Like father, like son, one of his children, Lionel Chukwuemeka Orji, is a singer and he goes by the stage name, Leo’nel.

Speaking about his dotting father, Leo’nel said in an interview, “I started writing songs in J.S.S 2. I began with rap and then my dad took me to my first studio session. My dad has been very supportive of my music career from the onset.”



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