By Sylvester Asoya
In Igbo, the literal meaning of Ebubedike is the aura of a warrior. This title or endearment as the case may be, is also closely associated with ideals of chivalry and nobility.
Pete Edochie, the veteran Nigerian actor passionately loves Ebubedike, a label that is intimately connected with him everywhere. So, in words and action, Edochie consciously speaks and acts this warrior-like role and carriage everywhere essentially for effect and identity.
So far, he is living the dream.
Before acting happened, this broadcaster and veteran actor had shown courage as a junior Programmes Assistant, Director and later, Deputy Director at the radio arm of Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS in Enugu.
He started out as a broadcaster in 1967 at the age of 20 and rose through the ranks to become a major force and director at the broadcasting outfit. However, he left ABS on principles, a decision many people still consider courageous and exemplary.
Edochie got off to a good start with his role as Okonkwo, the principal character in Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe’s all-time classic. In fact, appearing on national television as a central actor in the novel was the launch pad for his great career. He took advantage of acting alongside other great actors like Funso Adeolu, Fabian Adibe, Justus Esiri, Nduka Eya, David Ihesie, among others, to position, revive and rev up his promising career. Today, he is regarded as one of Africa’s most gifted actors by his active participation and the direction he provides to the next generation.
Like other top-notch veterans, Edochie can look back with a lot of pride at where his talent and providence have taken him despite all the challenges. The actor who was honoured in 2003 as a Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president has also attracted other national and international awards. Other highly regarded awards include Industry Merit Award by Africa Magic; Lifetime Achievement Award by Africa Film Academy and others. He is also remembered for playing host to the crew of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC shortly after his excellent interpretation of the character, Okonkwo, the African tragic hero in Things Fall Apart.
Beyond his contributions and appearances in hundreds of movies and documentaries, Edochie is leaving behind, a different kind of legacy that will outlive him. Yul Edochie, his son, is not only the second most recognizable face in the family, he is also the most popular member of the Edochie family after Pete, his father and the patriarch. Yul, a consummate actor who is walking in his father’s footsteps in the movie industry has also carved a niche for himself. Linc Edochie on the other hand, is another son of the veteran in the entertainment industry. But unlike Yul, a well known face in Nollywood, Linc is working behind the scenes as a producer. There is also Rita Edochie, an actress. Rita is the wife of Pete’s younger brother who is also a broadcaster. No doubt, Pete inspired all of them.
No matter what, nobody can take away Pete Edochie’s courage, creativity and candor. But he is also convivial, blunt and funny. A few months ago, he posted a video on his instagram account where he counseled women to be a little more practical and philosophical about a cheating man that is irredeemable.
“If you think your husband is going out to have an affair, put a packet of condom in his bag. When he sees it, he’ll know you have his interest at heart. If it is in his intention to stray, he’ll pull himself together”.
But men have also described his wise counsel as additional empowerment for women who are masters of emotional blackmail. Since some men are most times incapable of being subtle and insidious with matters of the heart, women will also emerge winners, all things considered with his advice. However, two things are sure from his smart proposition. It is generally believed between the sexes that Edochie’s opinion will save lives and relationships, and that is a remarkable act of heroism for a septuagenarian who is still speaking out.
This article was first published in alice, the in-flight magazine of Air Peace.