By Taiwo Okanlawon
Pete Edochie is regarded as one of Nollywood’s greatest actors. He, along with others, shaped the Nigerian movie industry, Hence, the need to talk about his undying efforts, landmark achievements, recognitions and why he is regarded as a veteran in Nollywood.
Pete Edochie came into the limelight in 1987 when he played the lead role of Okonkwo in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s bestselling novel, Things Fall Apart.
Before venturing in the movie world he worked with the Nigerian Railway Cooperation and later studied Journalism and Television in the School of Journalism and television in England. He joined the Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1967 and in 1980, he trained under the British Broadcasting Corporation as a broadcaster and rose to the position of assistant managing director.
Pete Edochie, born 7 March 1947, hails from Anambra State, Nigeria. He spent a greater part of his childhood with his parents in Kaduna State.
He had his primary education at Saint Patrick’s and Saint James Primary School, Zaria in Kaduna State and later proceeded to Saint John’s Secondary School, Kaduna in 1960. He left the school in 1964 to join his father in the Railways.
He fled the northern Nigerian region in 1966 shortly before the civil war broke out in 1967.
It was during his time with the radio house, he got the chance to play the role of Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart’s adaptation. He was 38 years of age when he took on the role. His exceptional acting in the series caught the attention of British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC who flew into Nigeria to interview.
He went on to feature in over 200 Nollywood movies including Lost Kingdom (1999), Living with Death (2006), Rituals (1997), Holy Ghost Fire (2001), Igodo, Evil Men. He has won many national and international awards. He was honoured with an Industry Merit Award by Africa Magic and Lifetime Achievement by Africa Film Academy.
In 2003, Pete Edochie was honoured as a Member of the Order of the Niger by President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2018, he stared in Lion Heart which is one of the highest-earning movies in Nigeria. He became a pioneer inductee into the moviemakers’ Hall of Fame in 2000.
His sterling performances in blockbuster films endeared him to many fans of Nollywood. You will seldom hear an eastern adage sound better from the mouth of anyone other than him. He is also known for wearing the colour of culture on his entire countenance and cadence.
The septuagenarian who has been married for over 50 years says he has never considered marrying another wife. In his words, “I married early and have remained married ever since then. What am I looking for a second wife for? I married a woman who gave me six children, what could I possibly be looking for in another woman that I didn’t get from this woman? There is no reason for it.”
Two of his children, Yul and Linc Edochie, are also leading Nollywood actors.
In 2009, Edochie was kidnapped on the Afor-Nkpor road, near Onitsha. The actor was on his way from his home in Enugu to an event in Onitsha when his car was ambushed, but was later freed after an undisclosed ransom was paid. According to some unconfirmed reports, the kidnappers demanded 10 million Naira as ransom. There was no word on what amount was eventually paid.
In June 2016, he was rumoured dead. The report claimed that the actor died in his sleep. His son, Yul later debunked the report.
Edochie is also always in the news over comments around marriage and relationships. He made headlines in recent weeks when he claimed that any man who kneels down to propose marriage to a woman is weak.
In a video circulated on social media on, the celebrated actor could be heard saying, “Any young man who gets on his knees to propose to a girl, is not just an idiot, he’s a bloody fool, a compound buffoon”.
The revered actor said in the video that the act is a replication of the foreign culture that translates to the woman taking over the family.
“We are trying to copy white people, right? I believe in the sacrosanctity of our culture, the essence and the core of our culture,” he said.
The ‘Lionheart’ star also said he does not believe the practice signifies love or civilisation, and jokingly said that men who insist on going on their knees to pop the question, risk being kicked out of the house by their wives.