I’ve never really been a huge fan of interviewing people but when Ebuka Obi–Uchendu mentioned his engagement to me, I thought it would be a good idea to share his story of finding love in far away United States of America and a December wedding in Nigeria.
The many faces/sides to Mr Ebuka Obi-Uchendu
Let’s talk to the man in question and wish him the best.
Nobs(N): This may sound funny but I’m a big fan of your writing style.
Ebuka(E): Then give me work in 360Nobs nah. I don’t charge a lot for big fans. Hahaha!
N: What is it about Ebuka Obi-Uchendu that the interviewers never captures or never bothers to ask that you would want to share?
E: The fact that I’d rather go ‘free willy’ than wear boxers or briefs… Ok seriously, I’m in love with politics. I don’t know that I’m in love with Nigerian politics as it’s run today but the whole idea of being able to offer oneself for service, and the process of getting to do that, has always fascinated me. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll become a politician someday though. Besides, becoming a bank CEO seems more profitable than politics these days.
N: Why is that so important to you?
E: Look around you na bros. What actually works? Nothing! It’s a miracle that we as Nigerians are still able to exist daily. Whether we like it or not, those basic amenities which we lack, have to be provided by government. Citizens won’t build roads or power plants. And politics is a huge part of government. Politics should be important to every Nigerian and we need to realize that. Okay, enough of this serious talk abeg…
N: You are the third child in a family of 4, how was it growing and what are the special moments with your siblings?
E: My family is very interesting. My elder sister is 8 years older than me, my elder brother is 5 years older than me and I’m 12 years older than my younger brother. Very strange but yeah, it meant we all sort of grew up separately/individually. We didn’t have too many sibling fights. What we had instead were sibling beatings and brushings since the person you might want to fight with would be older than you by so many years that all he/she did was to remove belt and mix you well.
Ebuka and his siblings
We were huge wrestling fans and I remember my elder brother would always want the both of us to have ‘pretend wrestling’ matches. Kai, the guy used the opportunity to brush me steady. Ahn ahn! Well, I sha made sure my younger brother paid for it.
But the good part is that we were a support system for one another and the age difference meant that anyone who tried to mess with you like in school, would be in trouble. There was an elder sibling handy to put that person in his place. It has also made our relationship unique and has drawn us even closer. We’re like 4 unique individuals from almost 4 different generations. Hanging out with them is always explosive. Love them to death!
N: I hope this does not get me into trouble with the gods. What’s this story about Okija, your hometown?
E: I don’t know what you’re talking about please. I only know that Okija has a University (Madonna). Does your village have a University? I also know we have a very popular tourist attraction that some people like to call a shrine. And then there’s me (sharrap)…
N: How would you describe people’s reaction whenever they get to know that you are from Okija?
E: It’s one of my favorite things to do when I meet someone. Once I say; “I’m from Okija”, there’s always that “What the f**k did I just shake your hands for” look on their face. It cracks me up every time. Some people think I’m lying when I say that’s my village; as if I’m just trying to get a reaction. The instant judgment from people upon finding out, used to annoy me. But now, I find humor in all of it. A lady once told me; “Ah; and I wanted to introduce you to my daughter o! But that your village? No way.” Her loss joo…
N: You are one of the popular housemate of the rested Big Brother Nigeria, how come you were not invited to participate in the just concluded Big Brother Africa All Stars?
E: Imagine, I wasn’t invited. Chai! I cried; I was depressed; I hate Uti; Mnet sucks. Blah… Okay, how do I say this without getting in trouble?
Simply put; yes I was invited. Yes, I was supposed to be the Nigerian housemate. Yes, I turned it down. Let’s just say certain ‘terms and conditions’ were not met during our negotiation so it didn’t work out. So right now, I guess I’m supposed to feel like Will Smith after he turned down ‘Matrix’ for ‘Wild Wild West’ right? Well, not at all. I see things differently. I was 23 when I did BBN. That’s been ages ago. I’ve grown and priorities have changed so let’s just say, I wouldn’t change any of my decisions even with the benefit of hindsight, or anything at all from the way they are right now. Besides, look at Will Smith’s career since then. Dude can afford to whip his hair back and forth for a whole year without working.
Plus, Uti did a great job against all odds anyway and I’m beyond excited that he won. I for the first time in my life, voted in a reality show and I’m glad it was worth it when I did. The fact that he was pure entertainment, whether for good or bad, is not in doubt and he was definitely the most popular housemate there. I’m glad he got the opportunity and used it to the maximum. He takes all the credit for it and I’m really proud of him (Eerm, I hope he’s reading all that sha. This is not free hailing).
N: A lot of people think the Big Brother concept is a cheap way to fame, what is your sincere opinion on that?
E: People have their opinions and they have a right to stick to it. But I for one went on it when I did, not for fame but for the adventure and the money. Well, the second part of that one, sure didn’t go according to plan. In fact, I went in thinking the show would not work as with most things Nigerian. So the success and subsequent fame was actually shocking.
Whoever wants cheap fame should do a sex tape or get on Jersey Shore. And in unrelated news, I think Kim Kardashian rocks.
Big Brother is very tasking; mentally, physically and emotionally which was why going back for me meant agreeing to more than just the basic terms. Surviving the auditions and staying in the house sure isn’t easy and anyone who is strong enough to do that, deserves some compliment. I mean, look at Paloma. You think she didn’t know people would pick on her for her nyashy issues? But she still didn’t care and put her emotions on the line in spite of it. Okay, did that even make any sense? ‘Hi Palomama’!
N: It’s a almost a year since you left Nigeria for the United States of America but a lot us still don’t know your reason for relocating.
E: Hahahaha! I knew this one was coming. Bros, seriously right now, do you have light? Look at the back of your left arm. Yes! How many mosquito bites are there? See? So, you think I don’t like to chill and avoid malaria. Of course I ran away to come and collect beta oyinbo breeze.
That aside and more seriously, I almost hate you for using that word ‘relocate’. You and who is relocating to where? I’m only here to get a Masters degree. Something I’ve procrastinated since I left law school in 2005. I am getting a masters degree in Law and Government, with a concentration in Intellectual Property (I like to say all that cos it makes me seem intelligent). I believe in education and I always think ahead. I may not come back tomorrow and become an instant millionaire as a result but it all ties into my plans to take over the world someday.
N: Is the experience worth the sacrifice?
E: So far, it has been amazing. I’ve learnt amazing things and my eyes have been opened to different cultures and how properly things can be done. I have also met some of the most amazing people ever, both Nigerians and non-Nigerians and I almost feel like I should have done this a long time ago. I’m loving it #NoMcDonalds.
N: What changes are you planning on bringing back with you that will improve the life of the common man?
E: Aah! But I’m a common man too. I will have to change my own life first before looking at my fellow commoners. Hopefully at some point, I’ll get to do my bit in ensuring that intellectual property in the entertainment industry is better protected. Piracy is a monster everywhere today, even in the USA. But I believe it was born in Nigeria. While we may want to sit and blame Alaba, the artistes and fans have a whole lot to do to nip things in the bud. We need to search ourselves and make certain difficult decisions. Many will be uncomfortable but they have to be done and soon too if we hope to make any progress in the near future. Did I just sound like Obama there?
N: While you were in Nigeria, you were quite heavy on the entertainment scene. Are there really major differences in the way their ‘Celebs” and ours are treated?
E: When I see or hear about Nigerian celebrities being bounced at clubs, it bothers me. You don’t want an artiste in your club but his music provides entertainment in there. I was at Jay Z’s ’40/40’ club in New York and Ne-Yo came in. The amazing show of respect and love to him, gave me the chills. Even when a less popular ‘Bobby Valentino’ came into a club in DC, the same thing happened. They love their celebrities here without feeling the need to have them prove anything more. I know things are gradually changing in Nigeria as we now have people being more appreciative of artistes and actors but a lot still needs to be done. These artistes work really hard; more so, those in Nigeria considering the harsher conditions. The least we could do is support them and make them feel like they are appreciated. We don’t even have half as many celebrities as thy have here yet when you count all the American footballers, basketballers, reality stars, etc. It is a learning process though and I think we are getting there gradually.
N: Why is ours so different?
E: I think fans in Nigeria had a problem with the quality of work that a lot of celebrities churned out, both in Nollywood and with music. But in recent times, quality has become a huge part of most things they do and fans have become a lot more appreciative of these stars. People are becoming icons and role models. But whether we like it or not, money plays a major part. As long as we have stars living amongst us and drinking at the same bars and dancing at the same clubs every weekend with us, ‘see finish’ must set in. But as they make more money and become a little more unreachable, they become even more appreciated. It may sound superficial but it is a fact. Stars are stars because they are seen when they want to be seen not when you want to see them. Like now, I’ve never met Tiwa Savage and I eeerm…
N: Some people say you have a good sense of fashion but I think you’ve got style. What says you?
E: Allow me enjoy this one conceited moment to say yes, that I agree with both you and ‘some people’. Thank you very much. Now sue me…
N: You have been associated with different women from different parts on the world. My money is you. I placed a bet that 17 years from now you would still be single. Prove me right. Make me some money.
E: Chai. I just tire to answer this one. What the hell? How can you say 17 years? You’re so wrong for that I swear. Always round up to the nearest whole number dude. I say 20 years…
N: Are is there anyone special in your life now?
E: Yes there is. I’m engaged to my Masters degree…
N: Just choose a date jor, I’m sure your friends would be willing to take care of the rest.
E: December 2010 is when I graduate. It shall be an epic marriage!
N: Introduce us to 6 amazing people in your life, the 6 projects you would like to execute on your return, 6 places you would love to visit and 6 things you love about being a Nigerian.
E: Hmmmm… I have a lot of amazing people in my life and limiting the number to just 6 would be impossible. Let’s not offend anyone in this season of bombings and kidnappings please.
6 projects I’d like to execute?
Register to vote
Practice my fake American accent on everyone I meet
Eat isi ewu
Not catch malaria
6 places I’d love to visit?
6 things I love about being a Nigerian?
Lagos (this is strangely also one of the reasons I hate Nigeria)
Our strong family support system
Nobs: On a last note, between your father and your mother, whom do you love more?
E: Between them? Well it depends on whose perfume smells better at the time when I’m seating between them.
N: Nwanna, I look forward to seeing you in December
E: Ife Imachakwa