‘I have featured in over 300 movies' - John Okechukwu Okafor

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Ace comedian John Okechukwu Okafor, better known as Mr Ibu in Nollywood, says he has appeared in more than 300 movies since he joined the industry a few years back. He identifies his role in Worst Agony as the most challenging ever. ADE BANK met him.

IF you should mention the name of John Okechukwu Okafor, it may not really ring a bell in the movie circle because majority of his fans simply know him as Mr Ibu. Although the name is the title of one of his movies, it has become a form of sobriquet for him. He has appeared in more than 300 movies since his debut in Rolling Stones a few years back and successfully established himself as a comedy star in Nollywood.

“I have featured in about 302 films so far. But my very first was Rolling stones. That is the one I started with,” he recalled. For the comic actor, comedy is like a family affair. Although his father never appeared in any movie, he was a notable comedian during his life time. “My father is the greatest comedian I have ever known. He was not only jovial, but also funny during his life time. he could crack jokes from any situation. In fact, the name Ibu is actually one of the names that people called him,” he said.

The comedian however said he could play other roles apart from acting as a clown or funny character, despite the fact that he has been labelled as a comic actor. “I can do anything; play any role. But, it’s like people have seen in me the qualites needed to be a comedian. As a result of that, they always invite me for comedy.

“Even my fans believe that whenever they see me in a movie, they are in for a laugh. So, it’s not that I cannot play my other roles. Like I said before, I can act any role. But, think of it, if I should play the role of a bank manager, there would be no room to do anything stupid. That is because a bank manager, naturally, should be a serious person who is prudent with people’s money. “Should I play that kind of a role, my fans might be disappointed because they will expect me to do what I am known for - that is something stupid to make them laugh,” he explained.

Before he ventured into acting, Okafor was a Karate instructor, training people in the Japanese act of unarmed combat. “As at that time, I was not in the movie industry. The talent to act was in me, but I was yet to identify the movie sector as a viable one. So, I was working as a Karate instructor,” he said. But his views and beliefs about the industry has now changed. He now sees it not only as a steady source from which the government generates revenue, but also a strong employer of labour.

“The national censors board collects about N30,000 on each film that is released, because there is no way you can release a film without its approval. Calculate how much the government is making through that. I am sure its a huge amount of money. “Apart from that, the movie industry has helped in curbing unemployment. About 2,000 people are paid weekly by the industry.

“Many people who were in other professions have joined the industry for one reason or the other. Even, returnees from Europe, america and other places now find shelter in the industry. There are people who were either deported or had one problem or the other overseas, but they are now doing well in the movie industry,” he said. In his opinion, these explain why the government should come to the aid of the industry. This could be done by making funds available to practitioners for the production of movies. “The government should pump money into the movie industry. There is need to assist financially.

“The same thing should be done for the guild and cinematographers. Let each of them produce movies for the government. When this is done, let the President invite presidents of other countries to come and launch it. That will boost the industry in a number of ways. “Another thing which I think the government should do is to establish a movie department or sector to cater for the affairs of the industry. I believe and hope that it would be done one day,” he stated.

On the claim that some producers were fond of releasing movies into the market frequently without considering the pocket of their buyers, Okafor said that it was a fallout of competition. “People don’t queue up to pick success. What I am saying is that everybody wants to make money. Many have seen movie production as a viable business and that is why they came into it. There is no way you can tell someone to wait or not to release his movie because of someone else.

“But the truth is that a good product will always sell itself, no matter how many are in the market. If someone releases a movie into the market today, and it does not sell, he will definitely learn his lessons. As a result of that, he will prepare well next time,” he noted. Mr Ibu explained why some producers find it difficult to pay their cast after producing a movie. He blamed the situation on dubious marketers who fail to give proper account of sale.

“Many actors and actresses today are complaining that producers are owing them. They either say they have not been paid at all, or they have only being paid part of what they originally agreed on. “The truth is that the fault does not lie with the producers. Many of them (the producers) don’t really have the money needed for production, they depend on loans. And, at the end of the day, when they take the produced films to the marketers, they don’t get a fair deal. It then becomes difficult for such producers to pay actors and actresses.

“But I sincerely believe that this will soon be a thing of the past, because the marketers themselves are now set to kick out the bad eggs among them. Any marketer that is caught doing such will be dealt with accordingly.
“I commend the marketers. Don’t forget that they are our lords, because without them, we can’t really do anything. But I want to advise them to expand their outlets. It should not just be in Onitsha, Aba and Lagos. It should be extended to other states of the federation,” he appealed.

Of all the roles which Okafor played in the 302 films he has featured since he joined the industry, he considers his role in Worst Agony as the most challenging. “In that film, I played the role of a poor man who was terribly sick. I had to do everything to look like a very sick person throughout the film. “And if you should watch the movie, you will think that I was really sick. In fact, you would think that I have been sick for a long time. “That is where talent comes in. It was not easy playing that role, but I did it so well. I consider it the most challenging so far,” he said.

The fans of Mr Ibu have something new to look forward to, as he is set to release a new movie. It is all about a houseboy who falls in love with his master. “The film is titled Johnson the dreamer. In it I am a houseboy to a lady whose parents have died. Along the line, I fell in love with her, but can’t really declare it. “Meanwhile, a certain man in her office is declaring to be in love with her, but is only deceiving her as the love is not genuine. One way or the other, she gets to know and ends the relationship. I, as the houseboy confesses to her that I love her and she marries me,” he narrated.

The comedian has a piece of advice not only for would-be actors and actresses, but also his colleagues in the movie world: “My advice to those who want to come into this business as actors and actresses is that they should not rush. They should be patient, because Rome was not built in a day.

“And to my colleagues in Nollywood, I say: Let us do things the way they are supposed to be done. God has already opened the way, let us try to make the most of it,” he advised. Besides acting, Mr Ibu also works as a transfer agent for football players. He has football coaches who work with him in discovering and training talents in the round leather game. Such talents are later assisted to seek and join notable football clubs across the globe.

Source: cometnewsonline.com


Shekua said:
Out of the 300 movies i only enjoyed "CIVIL WAR". Anyway, am not really a fun of his.
me neither...civil war and police recuit were the only movies of his that I also enjoyed.


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'I have featured in over 300 movies'

It really should embarrass us to say things like this. 300? Sheesh...


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300 movies in how many years? no wonder these guys have run out of ideas, good comedies are no longer interesting, comedies are supposed to be hilarious kind of. Nowadays u can sit and watch a so called comedy with nothing to laugh about.
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