10 Nigerian Celebrities Who Were Born Into Poor Families

In this article I will be sharing with you 10 Nigerian celebrities who were born into poor families. Everyone has a story to tell. Every day, we meet people from different works of life; whether a lawyer or a classroom teacher; a managing director or a gate man; a banker or a bus conductor…the list is endless. However, regardless of our sundry careers, professions or work, what ultimately define us is the quality and strength of our attitudes of mind. Quite frankly, we have heard the almost banal and clichéd statement that “as our faces are different, so are our challenges, desires, and aspirations are different.

Well, it is true because a lot of us go to work and our business places, all adorned in fine clothing and perfumes; the smiles from our faces can literally light up an entire street…that’s how we roll. However, behind our colorful garbs and ‘keyboard’ smiles lies some of our frustrations, challenges, and sometimes warm tears that literally deluge our pillows when we go to sleep at night, at least for those who are fortunate enough to have a place to lay their heads.

In this article I will be sharing with you inspiring stories of some of Nigerian top celebrities who were born into poor family and had to struggle to become financially successful, global ventures and public figures. So therefore, after a careful study and research I present to you 10 Nigerian celebrities who were born into poor families.

1. Olamide

Olamide Adedeji popularly known as Olamide or Baddo is a Nigerian hip hop recording artist. He records mostly in Yoruba, his native tongue. In 2011, he released his debut studio album Rapsodi while signed to Coded Tunes. He is the founder and owner of the record label YBNL. His hit singles include “First of All”, “Voice of the Street”, “Stupid Love”, and “Ilefo Illuminati”. On 7th November 2013, he released his third studio album Baddest Guy Ever Liveth.

On 17th July 2013, Olamide became the first Nigerian to sign an endorsement deal with Ciroc worth millions. Olamide has been nominated and won several music awards. He has won Nigeria Entertainment Awards multiple times, he has won the Headies Awards, MTV Music Video Awards, City People Entertainment Awards, and so many others. Olamide was born into a poor family background in Bariga, Lagos, Nigeria.

He was born inside a ghetto and his childhood was filled with hardship, struggle and hunger. Out of passion he decided to pursue a career in music. When asked why music, he said: “I found out I was gifted in it so I had to explore it. It’s my life, my hustle, my world”. And today Olamide is now a global venture. He is very successful and famous and has been listed as one of the richest musicians in Nigeria.

2. Patoranking

Patoranking is a Nigerian musician also known as Naija reggae dancehall king. He is arguably Nigeria’s number one reggae/dancehall artist at the moment. From being the face and ambassador of several top brands and organizations to returning as a judge in the ongoing musical competition “The Voice of Nigeria” Patoranking has shown not only his versatility but also the fruit of hard work. Now you see all the glitz and glamour that surrounds and exudes from him, and you wish your life could be like his. However, before you quickly latch upon the glory you see, please let’s take a plunge into his story. Patoranking is from a very poor family background in Abakaliki, the present capital of Ebonyi State in the south eastern part of Nigeria. According to him, he was a brick layer and also had to sell rat poison just to make ends meet. But today he is among the richest musicians in Nigeria. His hit songs “Arubarika”, “Another Level” and “Nobody Wey No Fit To Make Am” are one of the his most trending songs of all time.

3. John Okafor (Mr. Ibu)

John Okafor popularly referred to as Mr. Ibu for his role in the movie titled Mr. Ibu in 2004, is a Nigerian comic actor. John Okafor is one of Nigeria’s most talented comic characters. His humorous and jocular acting is one that is characterized by stupidity, hilarious imbecility and a sharp disconnection from reality. However, in case you did not know, John Okafor came from a very poor family background. He once sold firewood and was a butcher and hair dresser for so many years until he found favor in the Nigerian movie industry popularly known as Nollywood.

According to his words; “When I lost my father, breeze pulled down our house and we became tenants in our own village. We were eight in number; five boys and three girls. We were given a room in our maternal home; there we all slept at night as if we were in a cell. One leg here, the other leg there” he recalled during an interview. In fact, the interesting part of his story was that his family was the poorest in his hometown in Enugu State. Life and living was truly tough for him, today as they say, the rest his history!

John Okafor is from Enugu State in the south eastern part of Nigeria and was unable to finish his studies because of they was no money to further his education. But today John Okafor is regarded as one of the richest comic actors in Nigeria. His hit movie Mr. Ibu has been regarded as one of the best comedy movies in Nigeria.

4. Wizkid

Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, better known by his stage name Wizkid, is definitely Nigeria’s finest and hottest entertainment export. Born on 16 July 1990, Wizzy as he was quickly called embraced his musical destiny at the age of 11 years old. Wizkid was born into a poor family background, although his parents were civil servants but they were still poor as they could not afford some basic needs at home. Wizkid grew up in Ojuelegbe, a part of Surulere in Lagos State in the south western part of Nigeria, which also happens to be his hometown.

In a bid to free his family from poverty Wizkid started visiting the studio regularly and showcasing his talents through freestyling and music challenge. Unlike some artists that were born with “golden spoons” and had billions in their accounts even before venturing into music, Wizkid was not that fortunate. He literally became a studio rat; he ate and slept in popular studios in pursuit of his dreams. But today he has become very successful and regarded as the second richest musician in Nigeria.

He has shared stages with a lot of Nigeria’s finest artist, and has entered global relevance with collaboration with renowned artists like Drake, Akon and Chris Brown. Today regardless of what you think of him, the name Wizkid will forever resound in the annals of Nigerian music history.

5. Omotola Jalade Ekeinde

Omotola Jalade Ekeinde also known as Omosexy has obviously gone beyond the threshold of taxonomies among the top actresses in Nigeria to becoming a living legend in the Nigerian movie industry popularly known as Nollywood. From her fetal stages in the acting business to where she is now, Omotola have continued to leave indelible prints not only in Nigeria, but also in the consciousness of the global space. In 2003, she made the Times Magazine list of Most Influential People in the world; this is not a small feat because some presidents of many countries never reach such heights. Omotola came from a very poor family background. She has been through the heated crucible of life, and like gold she has passed through fire to emerge fine and refined.

After losing her father (the breadwinner of her family) herself, her mom, and her other two siblings literally had to beg on the street just to survive another day. They would sit on a pavement of some rich Nigerians hoping to get handouts to carry on the day; but were disappointed severally. She was almost tempted to go into prostitution, but her determination, hard work and persistent brought her so far. Today she is regarded as one of the richest actress in Nigeria.

6. Linda Ikeji

Linda Ikeji is a Nigerian blogger and entrepreneur; she is arguably Nigeria’s number one famous blogger. She is the richest blogger in Nigeria and has been listed by Forbes as one of the most influential women in the world. Her obvious talent, persistence, hard work and business mindset made her very successful and self made. Apart from having a pretty face and a coca cola figure, the entrepreneur/blogger is also a humanitarian, she has help several young ladies to become self made through her projects.

Linda Ikeji is from a poor family background in Imo State in the south eastern part of Nigeria. From being admitted into a course she didn’t want (English) at the University of Lagos, to struggling in newsrooms as a writer, to modeling, and finally selling beer as a waiter in hotels, Linda Ikeji has shown the strength of a woman to surmount the sundry challenges that life throws at her on a daily basis.

In her own words “I would leave lectures, go to a hotel and sell beer from 1 pm till 10 pm. I did this for a few months. It wasn’t easy but I had to survive”. Today the story is different. Linda Ikeji now owns a mansion in Banana Island in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria worth over N850 million. She also owns several fleets of cars like Bentley Jeep, Range Rover Sport, Mercedes Benz and so many other expensive cars.

7. Timaya

Inetimi Timaya Odon popularly known as Timaya is a Nigeria musician, singer and songwriter. He is the founder of Dem Mama Records Limited. His solo career began in 2005 with the release of his sit single “Dem Mama” which also appeared on his debut album, True Story. Timaya gained further visibility and international prominence through his third studio album De Rebirth, released in partnership with Black Body Entertainment and its lead single “Plantain Boy” both were commercially successful.

In 2012, Timaya released hit album Upgrade, which spawned hits singles “Bum Bum”, “Sexy Ladies”, and “Malonogede”. Till date, his work has earned him several notable awards and nominations including four Headies Awards, 2 AFRIMMA Awards, one Nigeria Music Video Award, one MTV Music Video Award and one Nigeria Entertainment Award, making him a global venture. Timaya was born into a poor family background in Bayelsa in the south southern part of Nigeria. Although his father was a banker but could not cater for the family.

Timaya had to join his mother as a plantain seller to put food on the table; he hawked plantain in the city of Port Harcourt for several years and could not further his education because they were no money. Out of determination, Timaya quit the plantain hawking business and relocated to Lagos to pursue a career in music. Today Timaya is financially successful and regarded as one of the richest musicians in Nigeria.

8. Mark Angel

Mark Angel is famous Nigerian YouTube celebrity and a comedian. He was born and raised in Port Harcourt, River State Nigeria. He is originally from Imo State in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. Mark Angel is the founder of the popular comedy skit “Mark Angel Comedy” a short comedy video published every Friday on YouTube. Mark Angel is currently sitting on 5.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel and has 6 million followers on his official Facebook page and 1 million followers on his official Instagram account. Mark Angel was born into a poor family background. Mark Angel did not complete his university education, infact he is a dropout. In 2008 Mark Angel gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria to study Medicine and Surgery but unfortunately his sponsor died few months later and he had to quit school because nobody was there to cater for his academic needs.

After dropping out from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife due to financial problem, Mark Angel relocated to Lagos and stayed with a friend. He knew nobody will sponsor him and so he decided not to go to school again. Instead he used the money in his savings to travel to India to study cinematography. After studying cinematography in India for 6 months, Mark Angel returned to Nigeria and joined the Nigeria movie industry (Nollywood) in 2010. He started professionally as a Nollywood movie editor and director of photograph (DOP). He later quit Nollywood few years later when he discover that the pay was less and some producer could not even pay him at all.

In 2012 Mark Angel met with his friend Denison Igwe and together both of them decided to start an online media organization that will be based on comedy. That idea gave birth to Mark Angel Comedy, a weekly comedy skit published on YouTube every Friday. Today Mark Angel is the most successful YouTube personality in Nigeria earning over $100,000 dollars monthly.

9. Phyno

Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike popularly known by his stage name as Phyno is a Nigerian hip hop rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. He started his music career as a producer in 2003, and is renowned for rapping in the Igbo language. His debut studio album “No Guts No Glory” was released in 2014. It was supported by four singles like “Ghost Mode”, “Man of the Year”, “Parcel” and “O Set”. Although a native of Anambra State in the south eastern part of Nigeria, Phyno was born into a poor family background and raised in Abakpa, a ghetto region in Enugu, Nigeria.

Phyno developed an interest for music production during his secondary school days. He initially wanted to become a pilot, but because of poverty he could not fulfill his dream. Throughout secondary school, he learned to play the drums and piano. He also learned to create his own rendition of every recording he heard.

He studied public administration at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) in Enugu, and started profiting from music during his second year in school. Phyno started rapping in 2010 and relocated to Lagos to further his music career. Today Phyno is very successful and regarded as one of the richest musicians in Nigeria.

10. I Go Dye

Francis Agoda popularly known by his stage name as I Go Dye is a Nigerian sand up comedian. He is a motivational speaker, writer and social crusader. However, through his artistry he has continued to promote global peace and child welfare. He has organized several international comedy shows both home and abroad. He has been regarded as one of the richest comedian in Nigeria. He has won several awards like African Best Comedian, Nigeria Best Comedian, Delta Role Model, United Nations Development Goal Ambassador and United Nations World Habitat Ambassador.

I Go Dye was born into a poor family background in Abraka, and grew up in Warri, Delta State in the south southern part of Nigeria. As a young child he grow up at Okpara water side with his grand Mother, Queen Agnes where he saw the numerous challenges facing rural settlements in Nigeria. This insight has motivated him to address some of these issues through his comedy and publications. A review of his creativity dates back to his elementary school days at Ighogbadu primary school and College of Commerce in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria.

His passion for comedy brought him wider acceptance and popularity, which he realized was a means to address mitigating factors affecting young children and many unprivileged people, based on what he witnessed growing up in the village as a young kid. Today I Go Dye is very successful and regarded as one of the richest comedian in Nigeria.

Austine Ikeru
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