The 90s and 2000s were great for Nollywood, producing some of the most iconic movies in the history of Nigerian entertainment. Both eras gave birth to memorable movies like "Nneka The Pretty Serpent", "Living in Bondage", "Glamour Girls", "Silent Night," and "Igodo". There were also a few unforgettable TV shows like "Papa Ajasco" and "Fuji House of Commotion".
Many years later, these movies and characters are still relevant to Nigerian pop culture, creating a template for what we now see very often on screen. Some iconic characters, however, are more recent, like Funke Akindele’s Jenifa, perhaps the most influential and most iconic Nollywood character of all time.
Here are the ten most iconic characters in Nollywood history:
10. Dan Ibro
Dan Ibro is a hilarious movie character played by the late Rabilu Musa. This role is that of an illiterate Northerner who jumps on trends and tries to adapt to modern ways.
This character is the poster child of Hausa comedy and is believed to have appeared in more Hausa movies than anyone.
Inspired by the real-life popular vigilante group Bakassi Boys, the 2001 "Issakaba" told the story of vigilantes used their diabolical powers to get rid of corruption and evil men.
The main character (Ebube) was played by Sam Dede, whose performance makes this the greatest Nigerian action movie ever made. His character and slang 'Odeshi' remain unforgettable.
The main character was played by Sam Dede, whose performance makes this the greatest Nigerian action movie ever made. His character and slang 'Odeshi' remain unforgettable.
8. Fadeyi Oloro
Most classic Yoruba movies in the 90s had one thing in common - a black-faced wicked herbalist called Fadeyi Oloro.
It was played by veteran Nollywood actor, Ojo Arowosoge.
7. Mr Ibu
Played by John Okafor, Mr Ibu is a comedic role whose hilarious acting is characterised by his facial expressions and infamous petty one-liners.
6. Boy Alinco
A Nigerian sitcom called “Papa Ajasco and Company” started airing in 1996. It wasn’t long before a character named Boy Alinco stood out. Who can forget his trademark one step backwards and two steps forward movement?
Every week, families all over the country tuned in to watch the skinny, suspenders-wearing boy Alinco and the rest of the cast. This show made the childhood of most 90's Nigerian kids.
5. Papa Ajasco
Produced by Wale Adenuga, the aforementioned Papa Ajasco-led series revolved around a typical Nigerian home everyone could relate to.
Papa Ajasco's daily antics which included hitting his bald head while saying his catchphrase 'Ojigbijigbijigbi' is just one of the reasons why it became one of the most-watched series in the country.
4. Baba Suwe
This character is troublesome, foul-mouthed, old, paints his face black, wears trousers with local belts, colourful gloves and a cap.
It was first played by veteran Nollywood actor Babatunde Omidina in the TV Comedy drama, 'Erinkeke'. The character has become so popular since then.
3. Aki and Pawpaw
These characters, played by Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme, respectively, were first seen in the 2002 comedy movie "Aki Na Ukwa."
The mischievous brothers quickly became a household favourite as the two reprised their roles in other movies. What makes these characters so good is how the names, Aki & Pawpaw, have stuck with the actors since then.
Nkem Owoh played this funny character for the first time in the 2003 Kingsley Ogoro film, "Osuofia in London."
The hilarious character was such a hit that a sequel was made. This role started the ‘London’ movement in Nollywood. We have him to thank for “Mr Ibu in London” and the likes.
Funke Akindele became known in the Nigerian movie industry for her role as the nosy young girl in the sitcom, 'I Need To Know.' This changed after she starred in the 2008 Nigerian comedy-drama film Jenifa. She reprised the role in the sitcom "Jenifa’s Diary."
15 seasons in and Jenifa still stands out as the most memorable character ever created on Nigerian TV.