Nkem Owoh is an award-winning Nigerian actor that has been starring in TV series and films since 1987, his biography is full of interesting details. Many people will immediately remember him as Osuofia, his character in the Nollywood film that launched him to stardom. He is one of the first names on anyone’s lips when they talk about the comedy genre in Nigerian films.
However, talking about his exploits in the film industry will not do justice to the biography of Nkem Owoh. This is because he went beyond acting and made his name with appealing and fun music in the music industry as well.
There is a lot of information on Nkem Owoh, popularly called Osuofia, packed into this biography. We provide a summary of some of them below.
10 facts about Nkem Owoh (Osuofia)
- Nkem Owoh is the real name of the Nigerian actor popularly called Osuofia. The actor would be between the ages of 60 to 62 years.
- He studied electrical engineering at the University of Ibadan.
- Owoh starred in the TV series Things Fall Apart in 1987 before launching his film career in the early 1990s.
- The actor married his wife Ngozi Nkem Owoh in 1998 and they have two daughters together.
- Osuofia in London was released in 2004 and it is from this film that fans culled the actor’s moniker.
- He has four major known songs and one of them titled, I Go Chop Your Dollar was banned by the NBC and also led to an EFCC investigation.
- Dutch authorities arrested Owoh in 2007 but released him after they realised they had no case against him.
- He was among the eight Nollywood actors and actresses banned under the Nollywood G8 controversy.
- Nkem Owoh, or Osuofia as you may know him, was kidnapped in Nigeria in 2009 and the kidnappers released him only after the family reportedly agreed to pay a ransom of NGN1.4 million.
- In 2008, he won the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and has many other awards to his name. He was conferred a Lifetime Achievement by AMAA in 2017.
Nkem Owoh: Age and early life
Nkem Owoh was born to an Igbo-speaking family from Enugu State on 7th February 1958. He is from Amagu Village in Udi Local Government Area, Enugu State. We also found other sources that claim the actor was born on 17th October 1960. Since we have no confirmation from Owoh himself, we think it is important to mention this age disparity here.
Nkem Owoh, who is also known as Osuofia, grew up in Nsukka, a popular town and large Local Government Area in Enugu State. He completed his primary and secondary school education there before moving on to the University of Ibadan (UI) to further his studies.
While he was at the university, he studied Electrical Engineering and graduated with a degree in engineering. But his path was already set on the screen and he did not waste time sampling the waters of working as an engineer. In fact, he started appearing in TV shows before he completed the requirements for his degree at the UI.
Nkem Owoh (Osuofia) Biography: Early film career
The first known professional acting appearance that Nkem Owoh made was on the TV series, Things Fall Apart in 1987. He must have been between 29 to 31 years old at the time. Owoh co-starred with other popular faces from Nollywood early days like Pete Edochie, and late veteran actors Justus Esiri and Sam Loco Efe.
In 2005, Nkem Owoh and Patience Ozokwor appeared as a couple in the comedy film, Ukwa in 1995. Initially, the actor was initially named after his character Ukwa, in the hugely successful film.
Owoh subsequently appeared in many comedy films and soon developed a knack for witty comebacks that were common in his films. He and Patience Ozokwor became a regular feature in Nollywood films in those days and people even mistook them for a real couple.
It was not until 2003 that Nkem Owoh finally outgrew the Ukwa nickname. This time Nollywood fans replaced it with another moniker that will follow him all through his career, even until now. Let us briefly look at this legend-making film.
Osuofia In London
In 2003, Kingsley Okoro produced “Osuofia In London” starring Nkem Owoh as the lead actor. Critics and Nollywood experts have argued that it is Nollywood’s highest-selling films of all time. While there were no ticket sales at the time that would have helped to properly measure its success, the film unarguably is one of the most popular films to have come out of Nollywood.
The comedy film follows Osuofia (Nkem Owoh), a villager, to London, England, where he plans to inherit his brother’s properties along with his widow as well.
Watch Osuofia In London below…
Osuofia In London 2 is a prequel to Osuofia In London and was released in 2004.
Following the film’s success, the name Osuofia became a popular way to address the actor. Many who got to know Nkem Owoh following the release of the films didn’t bother to learn his real name.
G8 Nollywood Ban
After those early successes in the industry, Nkem Owoh found himself amidst controversy that was not his own making – he has been banned from appearing in films.
Nkem Owoh was named among some actors and actresses in Nollywood that were allegedly sidelining independent producers and preferring to work with market distributors.
The other actors and actresses implicated in the Nollywood scandal were Jim Iyke, Genevieve Nnaji, Ramsey Nouah, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Richard Mofe Damijo, Emeka Ike and Stella Damasus. They were also accused of demanding big paycheques and underperforming.
As a result, the producers came together to ban the above-mentioned ‘big names’ from featuring in Nollywood films for one year.
Fortunately for the actor, the ban came after his next big project titled The Master was completed. Also, during the duration of this ban, films like Akanchawa and Bus Driver were released.
Nkem Owoh (Osuofia) Biography: Recent films
In 2007, Nkem Owoh was featured in the film, Stronger Than Pain, directed by Tchidi Chikere. The film won him an award for the Best Actor in a Leading Role at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2008.
While Nkem Owoh, or Osuofia as he is fondly called, gained fame by playing comedic characters he has made some memorable performances that seemed ‘out of character’ for him. One notable mention is when he played Chief Godswill in Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart in 2018.
Another recent film that Nkem Owoh starred in was Chief Daddy. He reunited with his old-time co-star Patience Ozokwor in the film.
More recently, he appeared in Money Chops and from his Instagram account, he seems to have been involved in some productions that have not yet been released as at the time of writing.
He also stated in a December 2019 interview with the Independent newspaper that he was involved in a big multinational project, which has not yet been publicly announced. A look at his Instagram page confirms that he was working on something with international talents.
Recognition and AMAA Lifetime Achievement awards
Nkem Owoh is a peerless Nollywood actor widely recognised for his unique ability to deliver humorous roles. This has landed him countless awards but the most unique is the 2017 African Movie Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
According to AMAA’s Wikipedia page, the award goes to individuals that have contributed tremendously to the growth of African cinema. Thus, it is not a small feat for Nkem Owoh to have been recognised for an award that goes to only a handful of people.
Nkem Owoh (Osuofia) Biography: Music career
The legendary actor made a foray into the music industry and released some memorable songs. While I Go Chop Your Dollar remains Nkem Owoh’s most popular song, it is not by any means the only song that he released. You will find a list of some of Owoh’s most popular songs at the end of this article.
What is the relationship between Nkem Owoh and Patience Ozokwor?
As we mentioned in passing in the early parts of this article, some people wrongly assumed that Nkem Owoh and Patience Ozokwor are married in real life because they frequently appeared as a couple in several films. However, the truth is that they are not related at all in real life.
Another common mistake many Nollywood fans make is thinking that Chinwe Owoh, another Nollywood actress, is the wife of Nkem Owoh. This is because they share a common last name. However, they are not married.
Nkem Owoh is not the husband of Patience Ozokwor or Chinwe Owoh. He is married and you will get to know more about Nkem Owoh’s family in the next section.
Nkem Owoh’s wife and personal life
Ngozi Nkem Owoh
Nkem Owoh, also known as Osuofia, has been married to his wife, Ngozi Nkem Owoh, since 1998. The couple has been together since then and raised two daughters. His family had a hard time in 2009 after the actor was kidnapped. However, he regained his freedom after the family reportedly agreed to pay a sum of NGN1.4 million as the ransom for his release.
Nkem Owoh Controversy
“The Master”, “I Go Chop Your Money” EFCC investigation
Not long after Nkem Owoh concluded working on Osuofia in London 2, he and Kanayo O. Kanayo worked together on a film titled The Master.
Owoh played the character of a scammer engaged in Advance Fee Fraud, which is popularly known as 419. The film also featured a track by the actor. The track is titled I Go Chop Your Dollar glorifying 419 in line with the theme of the film.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had no evidence against him at the time but the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) banned the song from being played on radios in the country. They had allegedly condemned the song as encouraging more people to engage in fraud.
Nkem Owoh Dutch government scam allegation
Again in 2007, Nkem Owoh was at loggerheads with authorities. This time, he was arrested in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Dutch police stated that the arrest was a result of a seven-month investigation into lottery fraud and immigration violations. Not long after, the actor was released and there were no further details released about the case.
Nkem Owoh net worth
Many have been asking what the net worth of Nkem Owoh, or Osuofia, is. Some media outfits have tried to answer the questions and unsurprisingly, the answer varies depending on where you are checking. This is because there is no publicly available fact-based source regarding people’s net worth in Nigeria.
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For example, Legit claims Nkem Owoh is worth $3.9 million as of 2020 while Nigerian Infopedia alleges that the actor is worth $4 million (they probably rounded up the number from Legit).
As we mentioned, it is important to note that the figures quoted by these blogs cannot be verified, we do not know how they arrived at the said figures.
To get a sense of what the net worth of the legendary actor Nkem Owoh is, we provide you with information on his sources of income. Besides making money from the films he has starred in, the actor has many endorsement deals under his belt. MTN had signed a deal with him in 2012 and renewed the deal in 2015.
Also, in an interview with the Independent, when he was asked what he plans to fall back on when he retires from Nollywood, Nkem Owoh explains:
“Well, the thing is that I have already established one or two things. I have a school now; there are other things that I have. I have some private businesses even outside the shores of this country.”
Nkem Owoh is not the sort that engages in a lavish display of wealth and thus, it is hard to estimate his wealth beyond the information we have on hand.
Final thoughts …
With over three decades of acting experience, Nkem Owoh merits the praises he receives. He was among the leaders of the Nollywood in the early 2000s and he deserves recognition for his contributions to the Nigerian film industry. While he has endured some hardship at the hands of the law, he remains a jovial character bringing comedy to most films he has featured in.
Nkem Owoh does not seem to feature in films as frequently as he once used to, yet, we appreciate the few times he graces the screen in recent times and we hope to see more of him in the coming years.
In the bonus section, we include some additional information about Nkem Owoh the actor that became known as Osuofia.
Bonus Nkem Owoh (Osuofia) information
Nkem Owoh movies / Osuofia movies list
- Ukwa & Ukwa 2 (1995)
- Rattle Snake & Rattle Snake 2 (1995)
- Pam Pam (1997)
- Kiss Me Quick (1997)
- Conspiracy & Conspiracy 2 (1999)
- Big man … Big Trouble (1999)
- Ukwa (2000)
- Onye-Eze (2001)
- Spanner (2001)
- Police Officer (2002)
- Long John (2002)
- Ifeonye metalu (2002)
- Fake Doctor (2002)
- Police Recruit (2003)
- Osuofia In London (2003)
- Spanner Goes to Jail (2004)
- Anunuebe (2003)
- Trouble (2003)
- Lion Finer (2003)
- King of the Forest (2003)
- My Own Share (2004)
- My Driver (2004)
- American Visa (2004)
- The Prince (2005)
- Bus Driver (2005)
- Akanchawa (2005)
- The Dreamer (2006)
- The Barrister (2006)
- My Kingdom Come (2006)
- Made in Cambridge (2006)
- Indemnity (2006)
- Foreign Base (2006)
- Captain (2006)
- A Foot at 40 (2006)
- Stronger Than Pain (2007)
- Persecution (2007)
- Johnbull & Rosekate (2007)
- De Prof (2007)
- Covenant Keeping God (2007)
- Battle of Indemnity (2007)
- Wonderful Man (2008)
- Osuofia and the Wise Men (2008)
- His Last Action (2008)
- His Holiness (2008)
- Forgive Me Father (2009)
- Shattered Mirror (2012)
- Lionheart (2018)
- Chief Daddy (2018)
- God Calling Movie (2018)
- I Go Chop Your Dollar
- Know Me When am poor
- Mama No Know ‘N’ Pikin Again
Nkem Owoh (Osuofia) awards
- Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (2008)
- City People Movie Special Recognition Award (2014)
- Africa Movie Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement (2017)
- City People Movie Lifetime Achievement Award (2017)