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

October 17, 2011  |  
1 of 8

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!


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…


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.


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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  • bob

    well, “Bassey” in a NIgerian name, how is that not obvious? Bassey is a popular surname in Calabar and Akwa Ibom state

  • Sabrina Whiteman

    “When I first found out that he Nigerian,”…well don’t be so excited you forget to use proper grammar. smh

  • Scorpion

    Wale Realest Nigerian ! Heads up !:D

  • Pingback: 7 People of Nigerian Background That Surprised Me | MadameNoire | Black Womens Lifestyle Guide | Black Hair | Black Love | URBAN SOCIAL NETWERK Blog()

  • Isn’t it the Clabarians who stretch their slabia and file their teef to a point?

  • Nigerian, Congolese, Ghanian, Rawandian, etc… They all be Igbo, excessively loud, lazy, skeazy, and black as Toby’s butt. Unless they have White, Arab, Berber, Pygmy or Bushman admixture,
    Also naturally quite smelly due to frequent cannibalism.

  • Don’t forget Nneka, Labi Siffre, skepta, tinie tempah

  • Timaofsweden

    Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km…I have studied west African history, slave trade and African heritage history for 10 years and this is the first time I hear about more than a quarter of African Americans have roots in Nigeria…half of that time was thought by African American scholars

  • Tanay Elyse

    He was never married tho. The children are from 2 former girlfriends, just to set the record straight.

  • guest

    Good article and that Andre guy is hot! But you forgot about:
    Ne-Yo (nigerian dad)
    Tiao Cruz (nigerian dad)
    Slash (nigerian mum)
    Seal (both parents).

    I’d like to see one on Trinis (Trinidad and Tobago) or Senegal.

  • EJ215

    Why isn’t NeYo on here?

  • maggie

    please remind people of that . . even in the Caribbean, we prolly have a lot of that too.

  • M_okagbue

    No offense but none were a surprise. Being Nigerian myself there are a lot of facts that still shock me…1 Nigeria is the most populated black nation on Earth. 2 There are 360 different tribes that we know of..there are more…3 All the names you mentioned are Yoruba names….that is only one tribe..As the Hausa tribe are the largest, most Nigerian surnames are actually Islamic or Arabic…You can never tell by surnames..Shalom and 9ja for life…. 

    • Sentimental1

      yoruba is the largest tribe in naija

  • Chukwudi

    NAIJA STAND UP !!!! IMO State representing. Don’t forget about the rapper Lil O (Fat Rat wit da Cheese)  from Houston

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  • Tyra

    You left out Laura Izibor who is one of the greatest voices of our generation. Just Google her and you will ask yourself ‘how the heck don’t I know about this girl’. She sounds like Whitney (pre-crack ‘allegedly of course’) wrapped in Celine, Mariah Carey and Jill Scott. This sister has soul period. Great article though! I did not know about most of these except for Sade and Sophie. 

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  • Ony

    I wish "writers" would learn proper word usage and spelling. ELUDED not ILLUDED and FAZED not PHASED. Idiot.

  • avia

    taio cruz too

  • girl…u've got issues…i mean …seriously!!!… u have to insult to make ur msg clear!!!…sheezzz..!!SMH

  • those of u complaining……write ur own article na!!!
    abeg…haters shud just zip it….my girl has tried her best for the article!!!!

    • Chris

      Shut up.

  • Chris

    Bassey is a common name in Cross River State. Who wrote this article????????

  • Chris

    Thank you Emeka – To the writer of the article – in your opening statements you only mentioned those of Yoruba descent. Don't you know anything about the other tribes? Just because you are only 1/2 Nija doesn't excuse ignorance. Do your homework – please.

  • Chris

    The Olu – Temi -Ade are not the only Nigerian sounding names…get your information straight before writing.

    • did she say they r the ONLY ones!?!? guy ….buy some glasses n read!!

      • Chris

        Shut the hell up. She didn't clarify at all. She just proved her ignorance like you.

    • Ajibola Solaja would be a typical name for a Nigerian coconut head.

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  • Ali

    Will people just shut up!!!! With this..what about this person..what about that persons? The list said… ppl who SURPRISED her!!!!! I'm pretty sure the other names being dropped in the comments she already knew. Nigerians are smart ppl but you ppl look illiterate as heck. smh

  • Ali

    Will people just shut up!!!! With this..what about this person…what about that persons? The list said… ppl who SURPRISED her!!!!! I'm pretty sure the other names being dropped in the comments she already knew. Nigerians are smart ppl but you ppl look illiterate as heck. smh

  • OJJ

    Ummm, Yoruba is a tribe…full stop.

  • Cleo

    What about Chris Partlow from The Wire? And the chubby cheeked guy from Love Actually who married Kiera Knightley?


    Love it! I am not from nNigeria but I am a french native and my dad is Yoruba from Benin and I keep telling people that Sade, Shola Ama and Ayo are from my people!

  • I don't think Ms Okenada has been offered any roles as a Polish Russian Jew either.

    • Naijangel


    • And why should she? When she obviously appears more African. Hollywood (WhiteWood) would not cast an African to play white as it wouldn’t make sense.

      • Timaofsweden


      • Timaofsweden


      • Emilienne Mbezele

        But can take a White person to play a Black one or even Arabic or Asian lol!

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  • <<<< Part nigerian. That is whats up!!!

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  • Jola

    not tpain…i meant Ne-yo

  • Jola

    TPain is nigerian

  • Real Talk

    Real Housewives of Washington, D.C. – Stacey was her first name found out she was Nigerian on the show.

  • ed malik

    As a journalist/pr/reputation mgt consultant here in Abuja, Nigeria, I find the info provided by this site of utmost value. Vic, I’ll be reaching out to you very soon. God bls u.

  • Nneka

    Geez, that was soooo unnecessary you know. Think B4 you write. Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Efik, Ibibio and so on are actually more commonly refered to as TRIBES. …..You are welcome!

    • Guest

      'Tribal' relates to colonialist mentality to marginalize the sociopolitical status of Nigeria's people …
      These groups in Nigeria are huge populations as in 'nation-states'
      and should be recognized as such..
      'ethnic' groups is more acceptable due to cultural distinctions among the groups, not just size..

      • steven smith

        Its okay to be a tribe. like the Irish, english scotish, wales are tribes or kingdoms. also in USA. The Apache, Navajo Indian are tribes. since everybody was put together is called tribes. we accept it. not insult.

      • guest

        I agree too. Im african American and find it very offensive to use the Word tribe. I dont use ir i just say What people of ethinic group.

  • jakenoir

    what about nmamdi asomuagh cornerback for the eagles…sorry if i mispelled his name, but his of nigerian descent as well…

  • Nina

    And the Nigerian race will explode to over 450 million just behind China and India. Well done Naija, for learning to breed with each other. Something the fast declining white obsessed Afro American race.

    • It’s not like it’s something to be proud of. Even rats know how to breed as quickly as Nigerians. I blame Sally Struthers.

  • sosa

    Uwumarogie! how can you say you didn`t know Iguodala is Nigerian name? that`s a Bini name,like yours! am sure you don`t speak the language and never visited your place.hmmmmm

  • disomoge2fine

    I love me some Idris Elba. i'm half Naija half GH. Ghanaians make beautiful babies with other west Africans.

    • ProudGhanaian

      i agree!!

  • NegRican24

    ELUDED love NOT illuded

    • Let me guess… Pappy a Negro and Mammy a Puerto Rican. If Papy was American Negro then the chances are pretty good that yo are approx 25% to 30% White, which would make your name “CaucNegRican24”.

  • What about the Comedian Godfrey!?!?! He's Nigerian also! Represent! I'm half Nigerian (dad), half African American my self!


    lol Hollywood hino is naija and repss HARRRRD 😉

  • proudghanaian also

    cant wait for the ghanaian list, idris elba, do we need say more n oh boris kodjo

  • meee

    you miss out taye diggs, and tinie tempah

    • chidi

      i knew tinie tempah.. but waaaat? tay diggs???/

    • Get in Gear

      LOL tay diggs isn't Nigerian…I had to look that one up lol

  • meltedwords

    liberian descent too

  • chrissy

    i like sophie okonedo….

  • greendreams6

    Dont give a damn. Hit me when you do a Jamaican list.

    • Get in Gear

      LOL everybody and there momma is Jamaican. That's gonna be a loooooonnnnggggg list! lol

  • michezulu

    Your Jamaican list is going to be quite long.

    I think you excluded a lot of players of Nigerian descent who play football and basketball.

    • chidi

      she is talking about the nigerians she didnt know were nigeria… im sure she knew the ones she didnt list.

  • Jaay

    Idris Elba is "Salone" (aka Sierra Leone) or mostly anyway. Don't get it twisted!…lol… much love though.

    • Guest

      Idris is half Ghanaian, Half Salone/

    • proudghanaian also

      since the woman who carried him for 9mths is a ghanaian, hes a full blown ghanaian, he reps ghana all the time esp during the world cup, dont get it twisted.

      • Get in Gear

        lol your so ____. Your lineage is always that of your father's. Our bloodlines are traced paternally. Therefore, he would be "Salone".

        • proudghanaian also

          he was on jimmy kimmel recently. first thing that came out of his mouth about his parents, mom ghanaian, sorry.

          • Get in Gear

            That is the first thing that came out of his mouth because people are more likely to remember their mothers first before the fathers. lol That statement held no weight.

        • ProudGhanaian

          In Ghana our of lineage is traced maternally…i.e if you're part the Ashanti kingdom…it is carried by the mother…just FYI. (p.s. I'm royalty from my mother's side 🙂 )

          • Get in Gear

            Please stop lying. Your bloodline is not traced "maternally". It's even in the bible. Who cares if some humans choose to make up their own laws which fit them. When people try to trace their DNA, there is a reason why the Father's biological information is always retrieved first.

            • Rochelle

              In Ghana it is traced maternally, when your born you live with your mothers side of the family, this is mostly due to the fact that african men had multiple wives and children and counld'nt have all the children in their house.

        • BeautyQueen

          WHY FIGHT! HE'S BOTH! He may not have been raised with his dad so prefers to refer to his Ghanian heritage. He can go on both lists. BTW, WILL WE PUT SOMEONE WITH A BLACK MOTHER & JEWISH FATHER ON A LIST OF WHITES? [think Lennie Kravitz]

  • ProudGhanaian

    Ashanti Pride

  • Baby-U

    How can you not know Andre Iguodala is Nigerian and your last name is Uwumarogie meaning you are of Edo tribe as Iguodala. I’m pretty sure you know nothing of your heritage.

    None of these names are a surprise, people already knew they were Nigerians.

    • MNEditor

      As the title says, I didn't know he was at "ONE TIME OR ANOTHER." Real talk, I don't know much at all about Andre other than the fact that he can dunk, sorry I didn't immediately hear his name and say NIGERIAN!
      But anywho, I'm glad you knew all these folks were Nigerian. However, a lot of people didn't, so…thanks for reading!

      • Guest

        And please stop using 'tribe' to denote population groups in Africa or elsewhere that are the size of nations..

  • Adriane

    Girl! What is your problem? Do not use this type of language. You need to carry yourself like a lady.
    God is going to judge you for every word that comes out of your mouth.

  • Cora

    I love Wale and Sade!


    Who cares if some of us Nigerians are biracial?? N my eyes my dominant IBGO blood erases all my moms white blood. Im not Puerto Rican im not a zebra, im not creole im Nigerian and proud of it

    • Emeka

      err….. its spelt Igbo actually.

      • chidi

        i think its a simple mistake lol

    • disomoge2fine

      LOL Igbo Kwenu!


    IBGO “TRIBE” YORUBA “TRIBE” stand d eff up! !

    • chidi

      what about the other 248 tribes in Nigeria?? they should stand up too right cuz we all rep Naija hard.

      • IgboGirl.

        Biafra all day every day!

        • steven smith

          United Tribes of Biafra [.UTB ]. igbo, Efik, Ijaw, Ibibio. Edo, Igala, Idoma and others. the east and west of Yoruba tribe should unit and form two new countires and get rid of those muslim north. they cannot defeat christian if we unit and build a better nation.

  • Oluwatoyin

    Yoruba is also considered a tribe, smh.

  • Sammie

    :-/ Really? Was that really necessary? Ugh.

    Nice List.. Didn't know about Chamillonaire, Shirley Bassey or Tyler

  • Jaay

    What Nigerian songs did Wale remix??? His most well known remix of an African song was "My Sweetie" by living legend and Sierra Leonian Bunny Mack. I hope you're not refering to that song as Nigerian. Nigerians KILL ME tryin to claim that "Salone"man and his song as thier own….lol… I love my African people though. Please see if you can put a list together of Sierra Leonian's, current and decendant…Thanks!

    • Gem of Africa

      thank you..

    • Pnnn

      He remixed a few songs by P-Square a famous Naija group, look it up.

    • chidi

      lol calm down. Im sure you are Sierra Leonean if you are getting this hype haha. Im nigerian and myself a lot of other non-nigerians thought the song was nigerian.. i just learned this year that it isnt… which is also cool. but wale remixed "no one like you" by psquare.. 🙂

    • TemBB

      Wale has remixed loads of Nigerian songs, P Square's No One Like You, Naeto C's Kini Big Deal and others..

  • Yaya

    I think the Jacksons also have Nigerian background and they visit this country on regular basis.

    • chidi

      lol which Jacksons?

      • BeautyQueen Moore

        I dont mind the mention of Black Canadian because it's interesting info. No-one get's mad when you say Italian American, Afro-American etc

    • Timaofsweden

      The jacksons, especially jermaine visit Gambia a lot as well. That doesn’t give them a Gambian background. They have also been known to travel to Ghana a lot. Since African Americans and caribbean people have their roots in west Africa it’s not rare for them to travel to those nations amongst many others.

    • Timaofsweden

      The jacksons, especially jermaine visit Gambia a lot as well. That doesn’t give them a Gambian background. They have also been known to travel to Ghana a lot. Since African Americans and caribbean people have their roots in west Africa it’s not rare for them to travel to those nations amongst many others.

  • chanela

    With tyler the creator’s mom…how the hell is she black and canadian? why not just say that shes canadian? is the father black and nigerian?

    • MNEditor

      Whoops! That was an accident, just meant to say Canadian. You're right! Now…chill out, please.

    • chidi

      lol i think they mean she is a black Canadian 🙂

  • amma03

    Please do one for celebrities of Ghanian descent.

    • NO_Name

      Nah, the list is gonna be too long. I know too many Gh celebs.

  • Vnss

    Bassey – as in Dame Shirley Bassey – is actually a very popular name in Calabar area ( in Cross River State, Nigeria).

    • Chidi

      oh yes. i was just about to say this. Bassey is a popular calabar name 🙂

    • disomoge2fine

      She is half Nigerian. Her father was from Cross River State

  • lala

    erm SEAL Heidi klum's husband is Nigerian, i am not sure of slash's mum though.

    • itsemeka

      Slash is half Nigerian.

  • Why are you so surprise when you find out that people are of Nigerian descent. Good people come from Nigeria too right?

    • Arabelle

      Because they just aren't expecting it or they don't look it, stupid. Calm down. People are always ready to attack others for SOMETHING.

  • MSQ

    nigerian men know they love some white women…….i'm just saying.

    • feri

      The list is about famous people who surprised us as Nigerian so of course the list is full of halfies whether the other partner was White or Black American or something else….if someone is born to 2 Nigerian parents, like the majority of Nigerians in America are, people usually know they're Nigerian (ex. Wale).

      I'd also like to add:
      Donald Faizon aka Donald Adeosun Faizon from scrubs
      Gilbert Godfrey (the most Nigerian not Nigerian name on earth)
      Taio Cruz

      • nitnit

        Taio cruz is half BRAZILLIAN for goodness sake. The clue is is in his surname

        • JellyMama

          "Taio Cruz's" birth name is Adetayo Ayowale Onile-Ere- you can't get more Nigerian than that!

      • EJ215

        Gilbert Godfrey??! I think you mean the black comedian that goes by just Godfrey. Gilbert Godfrey is that white “comedian” with the voice that makes me want to kill myself.

  • sugar/spice

    I've has a crush on Andre Iguodala since he played for the sixes

    • sugar/spice


      • sugar/spice

        or first started playing for them rather