All My Nigerians: 7 People of Naija Descent That Surprised Me (At One Time or Another)

October 17, 2011  |  
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On my father’s side, my family is Nigerian. So many times, you can find me trying to claim a lot of other people as Nigerian, because in my mind, I like to pretend I’m an expert in these things (totally not). But it always trips me out when I find out that certain celebrities are Nigerian. Nowadays, it seems we’re everywhere! It’s usually obvious when you hear that someone’s name starts with a Ade-, Olu- or Temi-, but the following individuals, running around going by stage names and what not, have at some time or another, illuded my Nigerian senses. But now that I know, I thought I’d share. No worries, I’m probably going to come up with a list of Ghanaians, Jamaicans and a whole lot more soon enough. Enjoy!

Chamillionaire

Not Mr. “Ridin’ Dirty”!? When I first found out that he Nigerian, I couldn’t believe it. But when your birth name is Hakeem Seriki, anything goes, right? The 31-year-old rapper and entrepreneur said that his father is from Lagos, Nigeria. Seriki says people used to make fun of him for being Nigerian, but he’s not and never has been phased by it.

Dame Shirley Bassey

The Welsh singer known for singing the theme to James Bond films like Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever (hear her in Kanye West’s “Diamonds are Forever”) and Moonraker was born to a Nigerian father and an English mother. Really didn’t see this one coming! Especially since her last name is Bassey. But it did recently come out that her father’s real name was Okun Apauso. Unfortunately for Bassey, her father was deported when she was a child, for sexually assaulting a child of all things, so she didn’t get to know much about him as he got into trouble with the law when she was an infant.

Tyler, the Creator

The controversial rapper making waves and headlines at only 20 years of age shocked my socks off when I found out that he is of Nigerian descent. Get past the stage name and you’ll find that he was born Tyler Okonma to a Nigerian father and a Canadian mother. However, Okonma’s father was never really involved in his upbringing, something the rapper has been extremely vocal about in a lot of his rhymes. How interesting…

Sophie Okonedo

Okay, okay, so she’s a bit more obvious with that last name and those cheekbones, but she’s interesting enough to share anyway. The highly acclaimed British actress was actually born to a Nigerian father and a Jewish mother who was of both Polish and Russian background. Okonedo has had roles where she played African characters. From the Wachati Princess in the made-up country of Nibia in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, to Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda–but no Nigerian roles as of yet. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Andre Iguodala

Real talk, for many years, I didn’t know what kind of name Iguodala was, but I know Nigerian is not what crossed my mind, whatsoever. The huge (6 ft. 6) small forward for the Philadelphia 76ers has a mother of African American background, and a father of Nigerian background. If you’re feeling the brotha, you’ll be happy to know that he is single! But uh, just a heads up, he has two kids from his previous marriage. Dang! At 27? This guy works pretty fast…

Wale

Note to all, if you hear that someone has the name Wale, just run with the idea that they’re Nigerian. Hard not to know with a name like Olubowale Victor Akintimehin. If you can pronounce it correctly, I’ll give you $50 (PSYCH!). Wale was born to parents, both of Nigerian descent, that are from the Yoruba tribe. I do love the fact that the rapper has remixed songs of famous Nigerian performers, and has been pretty open about his Nigerian pride. Another reason to love this guy.

Sade

You would be surprised by how many people that still haven’t realized that Sade is Nigerian. But it’s true. Helen Folasade Adu was actually the only person on this list born in Nigeria– Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria to be exact. Her mother is English, and her father is a Nigerian of the Yoruba tribe. When she was young, her mother took her and her brother to London to live after her parents’ relationship ran into a rough patch. The 52-year-old stunner still looks like she’s in her twenties (okay, maybe her mid-to-late thirties). Must be that Nigerian blood…(wink)

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