Pete Edochie: Nollywood’s Living Legend
Born on this day in 1947, Chief Pete Edochie is a veteran Nollywood actor who is undoubtedly one of Nigeria’s living legends as far as the entertainment industry is concerned.
The screen star of Igbo descent was born in Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria but had his primary and secondary school education in Northern Nigeria in Kaduna state.
Following the completion of his formal education, the multiple award-winning star worked the Nigerian Railway Corporation. He later returned to his studies to pursue a course in Journalism and Television at the School of Journalism and Television in England.
His sojourn into the world of film began when he left the Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (ENBC). He joined the outfit in 1967 as a junior programmes assistant at the age of 20 but later rose to the level of a director. As the Director of programmes, he sometimes had to double as deputy managing director and occasionally as acting Managing Director.
He quit ENBC (at the time now known as Anambra Broadcasting C0mmission when Anambra and Imo states were created) because the government had decided to politicise the affairs of the station. His exit from radio found him fame in the world of entertainment.
Edochie who is a Catholic rose to prominence in the 1980s and thanks to his lead role as Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s best-selling novel, “Things Fall Apart”, Edochie was honoured with an International Award. He was also interviewed by the British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) for his role in the film.
With several awards and accolades to his name, his journey to success is one that has seen him contribute immensely to the growth of Nigeria’s film industry. In 2003, he was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Niger by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The Africa Film Academy has also honoured him with an Industry Merit Award by Africa Magic and Lifetime Achievement.
However, his career has not been totally scandal-free as in 2005, he alongside several other actors were placed on a one year ban by the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria. The actors were accused of collecting huge fees from producers due to their A-list celebrity status. The ban placed on these actors was seen as doom in the Nigerian film business, but currently, the actors are back in filming. The other Nollywood stars affected include Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Nkem Owoh, Ramsey Noah, Stella Damasus Aboderin, and Richard Mofe Damijo.
Also, on August 16, 2009, Edochie was kidnapped but later released unharmed by his captors unharmed on August 17, 2009.
In September 2017, Edochie endorsed Wikimedia movement in Nigeria by appearing in a video to increase awareness and use of Wikipedia among the older generations.
In 2013, a 24-year-old Kenyan man, Ephy Saint alleged that he is Edochie’s lovechild as told to him by his (Saint’s) mother. Edochie was quick to dispel the rumour stating emphatically that not only has he never been to Kenya but he is not a wayward person.
Edochie has starred in over 70 films in his career such as “Igodo”, “Egg of Life”, Billionaire Club, and more recently, Nnaji’s hit film, “Lionheart”.
The veteran star is known for his signature beard, which he started grooming at the age of 23 and he has said he will never shave. Not only that, his witty use of African proverbs (especially Igbo proverbs) has endeared him to many of his fans and also become the inspiration for many online memes.
Edochie married at the age of 22 to his beautiful wife, Josephine and they are blessed with six children of which two Yul and Linc Edochie are both Nollywood actors as well. He is blessed with several grandchildren and till date is still very much active in acting and filming.