Olu Jacobs or Pete Edochie, who is king at playing king

Olu Jacobs Vs Pete Edochie: Who Is King At Playing Nollywood King?

by Anaedo Gurus

Olu Jacobs and Pete Edochie are arguably two of the most influential Nigerian actors of all time. You may elect to argue this but you would be arguing against movie critics, moviegoers, Nollywood addicts, and even actors and filmmakers.

Pete Edochie and Olu Jacobs are equally widely regarded as cultural icons because of how much they interpreted movie roles that connect us better to our African heritage and because both actors usually portray the character of a king in movies, there is a certain, perhaps more than just a certain, comparability between them.

Today, we look at who makes a better Nollywood king between the two veteran actors.

Olu Jacobs

He was born as Oludotun Baiyewu Jacobs on the 11th of July, 1942 (which makes him 79 years of age as at the time this article was published), and has been taking the stage and on-screen roles for more than 40 years now (since 1977 to be precise).


The passion for film grew in Olu Jacobs’ heart very early in his life and when he spoke about it, he said he was inspired by legendary actor and playwright, Hubert Ogunde of blessed memory, who he met at an annual concert party held in Kano.

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That meeting with the filmmaker awakened in Jacobs a fire that he has used to give us some of our most loved acts in movies. He went ahead to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England.

Before returning to Nigeria, Olu Jacobs worked with a number of repertoire theatres in the UK and was cast in a few international movies including the famous 1979 film “Ashant” where he portrayed the character of commissioner Batak alongside Michael Caine.

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Jacobs gas featured in over 200 movies, 100 stage productions, and over 30 television productions in Nigeria alone.

Although Olu Jacobs is from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, he takes on the role of an Igbo king and has been doing so for so many years with many of such movies turning out to be major successes. Of course, the actor’s wealth of on-screen experience gives him enough depth to fit into any role in front of the camera, but is that really enough?

Pete Edochie


Edochie was born on the 7th of March, 1947. He is from Nteje in Anambra State and an unapologetic Catholic. At the age of twenty, Edochie had gotten into the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) as a junior programme at a time when the Nigeria-Biafran war was looming in the distance.

He rose to the rank of a Director in radio broadcasting before he quit ABS and went full-term in acting. Prior to leaving ABS, Edochie had featured in an NTA movie adaptation of the seminal novel “Things Fall Apart” by legendary author, Chinua Achebe.

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He played the character, Okonkwo, in the adaptation and won International acclaim and earned his place in the for how well he interpreted his role. Since then, Edochie has featured in over 250 movies, some of which he was cast as an Igbo king and a Hausa-Fulani Emir, in, at least, one instance.

Olu Jacobs or Pete Edochie

In 2014, Pete Edochie said in an interview that “The people who are making movies are children and most of them are unintelligent. The person who is playing the Igwe roles in all the movies these days is Olu Jacobs.


“He is not an Igbo man. Simply do not understand why somebody who does not speak the Igbo language, who does not understand the culture, the mind and the psychology of a people should be the one playing those roles.

“I simply do not understand why somebody who does not speak the Igbo language, who does not understand the culture, the mind, and psychology of a people should be the one playing those roles.”

This was seven years ago and we believe Edochie no longer subscribes to this view (although some of his recent views like asking women who are cheated upon to respect the man’s right to cheat has raised eyebrows and fists).

It is not an elegant view and it was not true in 2014 and not true in 2021. The people making movies are not children. Olu Jacobs was not the only one playing Igwe roles in that period. There was Ali Nuhu (Hausa) and Van Vicker (Ghana) and Laz Ekwueme (Igbo). 

Olu Jacobs is a better performer than these men in this role. And it is unfair to say he doesn’t understand the culture. There are Igbos who don’t speak a word of the language. Olu Jacobs speaks some of the language and is a studious man who can be trusted to make an effort in understanding his role and all that comes with it.


Anyway, most of the things that happen in the so-called Igbo heritage set movies are not true Igbo culture at all. Being an Igbo man is no prerequisite to playing Igbo.

Someone who understands the mind and psychology of the people is not necessarily someone who is indigenous and you don’t have to go that deep to effectively interpret roles. Once you can effectively get into your own character, you won’t lose.

Pete Edochie played a Fulani Emir in the movie “Amina” (part 1 and part 2) which also featured Olu Jacobs, Patience Ozokwor, and Genieve Nnaji. We doubt Pete Edochie understands the mind and psychology of the Hausa people the way he expects Olu Jacobs to understand the mind and psychology of the Igbos to play an Igbo royalty.

Both Olu Jacobs and Pete Edochie are really good at playing royalty. Pete can play both Hausa and Igbo royalty. Olu Jacobs may struggle to play the Hausa crown. He will be perfect for the Yoruba monarch but Pete may struggle to play this.


The point here is that playing king should not be assumed to be Igbo culture. It can be Yoruba, Benin, Ibibio, Tiv, Idoma, Igala, Birom, Must people who have given Pete their votes assumed it is Igbo monarchy. The monarch’s role can be from any culture.

Ultimately, if your ideal king is one that would dance, if he would exude raw authority, bothering on menacing, Pete is your man. If your king would be approachable, if he would be an intellectual, if he would be unpredictable, Olu Jacobs should get your nod.

It is like having two good strikers and only one must play; the way your opponents set up would be the final decider on who plays and who sits on the bench.


Charity Onu wrote the biographical notes and Kingsley Okechukwu did the analysis

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