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Exclusive: “I’m Nigerian-British”! Chiwetel Ejiofor Finally Sets the Record Straight



Selfie with Chiwetel Ejiofor - April 2014 - BellaNaija 01

You heard it first here people!

BN’s Moremi Amuta and Damilare Aiki are LIVE at the press conference with the cast and crew of Half of a Yellow Sun in Ikoyi, Lagos.

We OBVIOUSLY had a lot of questions for Chiwetel but one that we definitely asked was about his nationality.

It has been an ongoing debate on BellaNaija that he is British and hasn’t ever mentioned that he is Nigerian. On an episode with Ellen DeGeneres he said he is originally from London (if you missed this story, click here).

Well, today he explained to us that he was born and raised in London, UK and always has to reference that, but he says, “I’m Nigerian-British”.

There you have it folks!

Stay tuned to BellaNaija for what he has to say about skin bleaching, his girlfriend – Sari Mercer, having kids,  and his rumoured James Bond villain role.

Oh yeah. And you know we definitely had to take a selfie!


  1. ella

    April 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Wowwww cute selfie. Great to see he is not disclaiming Naija

  2. Angel

    April 11, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Pulease let it go already, whether he’s British, Nigerian or British Nigerian, who cares…what difference does it make? like they say…will this reduce the cost of garri in market? Abegi …

    • Ndubuisi

      April 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm


    • SOLO ACT

      April 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      lmao!! asin garri still cost, nepa still dey take light, how does this “shocking” news that he is nigerian affect the average 9ja man/woman next thing he wud surprise up by saying he is IGBO.

  3. nene

    April 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    hmmn is he saying that because he’s now in nigeria? either way that is a very handsome nigerian man. igbo kwenu!

  4. nene

    April 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    and the girl in the picture is cute also.

  5. bimI

    April 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Why are people so obsessed with other folks origin. How does it benefit anybody ni sin?

  6. Busarni

    April 11, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Are you guys forcing him to be a Nigerian?. Hian , success really comes with droves of fake friends.

  7. Me

    April 11, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    So because he is in Nigeria now, he is suddenly Nigerian-British. Abeg he should go and sleep.

    • Stephanie

      April 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      lol…true though


    April 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    He just had to say it.I would have had to say the naija-british thing eventually. the last thing he needs for his career is people saying he is denying his part nationality even when all they have brought him is bad memories.I hope he enjoys his stay in Nigeria. Enugu people,please stay away from him….lol.

  9. Fatimah

    April 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    That awkward moment when your bestie is all over the moon because her boo called her and told her he loved her right after introducing her as a friend in public and telling everyone he is single. Girllll! he is confessing his love in private.

    BN, He claimed Britiko on Ellen Degeneres, Jimmy Kimmel etc and then he comes to Nigeria and tells BN he is British-Nigerian and BN is over the moon. *guffaws*

    • Joan85

      April 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Haha Fatimah I love your analogy! 🙂

    • Maryann

      April 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      I dont even see how he is Nigerian……….Born and raised in UK , has never lived in Nigeria so really how is he Nigerian. There are so many black footballers who live in france and say they are french or the white south Africans . I dont see anyone saying to White South Africans where is original heritage and you must claim that too

      If he was a notorious killer nobody will call him Nigerian.

    • Lizzie

      April 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      This is actually too true he probably only said it because he is Nigeria and why r they asking him about skin bleaching ? They should be talking to him about the film and his baffta award and on working with Lupita . Smh

  10. Ena

    April 11, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    abegi! we’re not interested again…rolls eyes…after he has openly denied us! you need to have listened to one rubbish Ghanaian presenter on Joy fm and how she dissed and laughed at Nigerians because of this guy’s issue….i had never been so embarrassed. That one of ours could so deny us and make us objects abi na subjects of such ridicule! so because he came to Nigeria to shoot, he’s now suddenly Nigerian! if he likes, he should be Senegalese….we don’t care…BN, next story pls! he should continue bleaching! and his nose too, he should go do a graft like MJ. we’re here watching!

    • Florence Idibia

      April 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      No mind the uncle oh! Chiiwetel has NEVER identified himself as a Nigerian to the world! If anything, he has consistently distanced himself! Now he needs you and i’s money he’s now forming identity! Trust some dumb ass licking Nigerians and celeb will soon start flocking to take pictures with hi me watch! Kim k kinda people! Spits!

    • Chinasa

      April 11, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Am sorry! You mean until the radio incident you’ve never been ashamed of been a Nigerian!!!. Naaaaaa not buying dat.


    April 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm




    • Onye Ara

      April 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      British is also not a nationality.
      So what does that make him?
      Enough of this daftness,I beg.

    • Warri Babe

      April 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      lmaooooooooooo, OMG..biko enough!!!!!

    • Lizzie

      April 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Abi Igbo-English lmao

    • That African chic

      April 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      You just made my day ……. Igbo-london!! Oh Lawd!!

    • tammy

      April 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Lmao! I laughed and so hard my ears ached.

    • yummyyemi

      April 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm


    • OgeAdiro

      April 12, 2014 at 3:37 am

      Igbo-london! Chei! Unu can yarn.

    • beams

      April 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Is “Igbo” a Nationality?? BIGOT

    • Miss_Flygerian

      April 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      This should take the award for the dumbest comment ever.


      April 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Ur comment cracked me up…..Lmao. That’s a really cute selfie.

    • Iris

      April 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      OH MY GOD! From one Igbo person to another please be quiet. Who asked him about his ethnicity? “Igbo kwenu” and then what? Why did you stop there? You should have said he’s not Igbo. He’s from Enugu. Famzer by force.

  12. Warri Babe

    April 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Haahahhahahhah…..okay, BN has been doing a good job of making me laugh today. Lool, I just can’t….pls can we get over this? If na you nko, wetin you go talk?

  13. Joan85

    April 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Of course he had to say that so that y’all will go see the movie. 🙂
    Wait till he gets back on the plane to England and see if he will still claim Nigerian-British smh.

  14. Nana Hammond

    April 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you oh. When he is here in the US he is British, if prodded of “Nigerian descent,” now in Nigeria in he is “Nigerian-British”! Na wah oh. Chiwetel politics should be your next foray because you are skillful at choosing your words and being politically correct! Thumbs up!

  15. AK

    April 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    C’mon people! The movie has to be promoted doesn’t it? So what’s the fuss?

    The Achebes and Ngugis of this world taught us well. How else would someone like me have identified his type from a distance?

  16. Cancel Reply

    April 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    I don’t get it o, what is it to people if someone claims Nigeria? Why are you seeking validation from someone you do not have personal relationships with?

    Why should a person be forced to claim a place they do not regard as home. Yes, Chiwetel’s parents are Nigerians but he wasn’t born there neither as he lived there. Culturally and mentally, he is British. It’s a different case if despite being born in England, he has more of a cultural affinity to Nigeria, but in his case, he doesn’t and he has gone on major network shows and stated THE CULTURE HE IDENTIFIES WITH AND THE COUNTRY HE PERSONALLY CHOOSES TO CALL HOME!

    A lot of you just get upset because you feel when people don’t claim Nigeria they are dissing us, but if you actually use your brains instead of emotions you’ll realize that asides having Nigerian parents, some of these folks, absolutely have zero connection to Naija.

    Ok, now that he has insincerely told you all that he is Nigerian-British, what next? Do we suddenly have constant electricity in Nigeria and have security problem been miraculously solved ?

    • Non professional opinion

      April 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      I think for most people, having 2 nigerian parents cannot be dismissed as “no connection to nigeria”. 50% of the Lebanese people I know have only been to Lebanon on holiday, and lagos is clearly home, but I never hear them say “I’m from Obalende…. Period!”
      I don’t actually care where Chiewetel is from because this is the longest I’ve ever spent thinking about him and I’m already bored.

    • Cancel Reply

      April 11, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      I get your point, but just because a Nigerian-Lebanon you know chooses to claim Lebanese, doesn’t mean everyone must lay claim to where there parents are from. I have two cousins from the same parents who were born and raised in America. One of them(the first born) has Nigerian friends, speaks Yoruba and claims to be Nigerian-American. The second child was not exposed to the Nigerian culture, cannot speak or understand Yoruba, has never been to Nigeria and he claims to be American. For him, saying he is “Nigerian” is not even a thought because he simply doesn’t identify. My point is, live and let live. We need not worry about other peoples identity. It really should not be that important!

  17. Hurperyearmie

    April 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Na him sabi

  18. Author Unknown

    April 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I don’t understand why Nigerians can’t accept the man saying he’s British. Born and raised in London? The problem is the cultural definition of where one is from. In oyinboland, it does not necessarily mean where your parents or grandparents come from. In Africa, it is. Sounds to me like inferiority complex on the part of Nigerians.

  19. spareme

    April 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I could care less if he claims to be from MARS! However, he needs to be consistent: On all the Shows he appeared on in The U.S he maintained that he was from London! No probs! or does he have identity issues?

  20. 9jamom

    April 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Don’t understand all the fuss around this – a child will only claim what he is familiar with or has been raised to believe. Given his traumatic experiences with Nigeria, it’s of very little surprise he claims Nigeria and he also doesn’t have much of a connection, does he?

    He is still correct in saying Nigerian-British as the first identifies his heritage while the latter identifies his primary cultural identity.

    Let it go – agree with the poster above regarding the inferiority complex that exists with our need to have a celebrity validate our country!

  21. BabyDee

    April 11, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    ohhh Uncle Chiwe…. so you have finally understood that the witches in your father’s village don’t play ba? Since they made sure you lost that Oscar when you refused to accept your people. Mchewwwww….now that you are in the den of those ones that can’t cross the Atlantic to hammer your head in obodo oyinbo you want to set the record straight.
    Hisssssssssssssssssss…onyiara somebody. See ya bear…bear….like oga okafor bitter leaf farm.
    Anyways sha, you’re welcome. Igbo Kwenu!


    • Ufuoma

      April 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Omg!! Baby dee best go meant goes to you hands Down,your comment had me in stitches

    • Mercy

      April 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm

      It might help u to seek medical help……this ranting is not NORMAL and so out of point

    • Smilerz

      April 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      I’m in tears people. LMFAO

  22. Wale

    April 11, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Lupita embraced her Kenyan identity and she won the Oscar even though she was born in Mexico. Americans love an exotic story. If he had embraced his “nigerianess” maybe he too would have won the Oscar. I think he just realized that having a story makes you more interesting -or perhaps he his just saying this because he is now home and he knows he has done us wrong, after all the warm embrace we have offered him.

    • Matt

      April 11, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Ku pita us different…she lived in Africa, chiwetal has never lived in Africa

    • Miss_Flygerian

      April 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Lupita was born in Mexico but GREW UP in Kenya. That’s a totally different scenario from Chiwetel who was born and raised in Britain.

  23. Iris

    April 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Before was he going to come here and say he was only British when he’s doing PR for his movie? Unless you’re a government who has or has not issued a passport, I don’t get how you get to decide someone’s nationality for them when they’ve told you how they perceive themselves. Why aren’t we claiming Michael Adebolajo from England who chopped off someone’s head? Are his parents not Nigerian? Okay Chiwetel Ejiofor says he is Nigerian. All is well with the world this week. Next week Kenya will fight for Obama to state that he is Kenyan and the world will be even better next week.

  24. ibukungeorge

    April 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    @Iris please where is the like button to like your

  25. LL

    April 11, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Na wa oh all these traffic jam just because of his nationality eh kwa? Well to put it to rest, according to Wikipedia it says “Chiwetelu Umeadi “Chiwetel” Ejiofor is a British actor of film, television, and theatre.Ejiofor was born in London’s Forest Gate, to Nigerian parents”. There was no place that said he is a Nigerian. Please let’s stop all these famzing. He can decide on which nationality he wants to be identified with biko.

  26. Real

    April 11, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    of course, when you in Naija – you are Nigerian-British; and when you get back to London, Be British-Nigerian or just plain British…kudos! Don’t hate the player, hate the game 🙂 Thats how it works

  27. ngozi

    April 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    poor horrible webpage..please bella keep the old one.

  28. marian

    April 11, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    ” Here is a situation where there are two women in my life. One is blood but didnt invest anyfn into my life and didnt reali care abt me till i was famous ,and the other woman tho she isnt blood raised me,trained me and taught me all that i know …which of these two women really deserves to be called family? ” …relate this scenario ive given above with chiwetel’s situation.

    If i were nigerian i wdnt mke a big fuss or get excited jx cuz this guy says he’s nigerian.obviously its jx a publicity stunt to get nigerians to go see the movie. He clearly doesnt identify himself as a nigerian and that is perfectly normal and i totally understand him. Both my parents are from the Ivory Coast but i ws born and raised in ghana so ghana is all i know. I feel ghanaian and i am ghanaian cuz i am used to the culture and the place. Just lyk Lola Rae who’s mom is ghanaian and dad is british but calls herself nigerian cz she ws born and raised in nigeria. Smtyms the nationality of ur parents doesnt automatically determine wher we feel we belong. Please u guys shdnt be too hard on him for saying he’s british, If u were in our shoes u’d understand.

    • Evly Samba

      April 12, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Well done Mariam, Perfect scenario is what you have just described. Well done.

  29. AJ AJ

    April 11, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Whats the big deal? HE IS BRITISH. BORN AND BRED. People should just quit forcing him to identify as Nigerian because his only claim to Nigerian citizenship is through his parents. If he is being generous he can say British-Nigeria but that’s not necessary.

  30. Kina

    April 11, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    What has Nigeria ever done for this guy?. How does his nationality reflect who you are. So he is a successful nigerian actor , how does that magically change your nigerian situation. The only nigerian dat should matter to you is the one in the mirror.

  31. Temi Adebayo

    April 11, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Something for sure: your name is not Anglo it sounds very Yoruba….

  32. Temi Adebayo

    April 12, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I meant Igbo!! My bad.. But, if he does not want to be Nigerian, then guys let him be what he wants to be..

  33. Beloved

    April 12, 2014 at 3:02 am

    His sister on CNN did say he grew up a little bit in Nigeria.

  34. ao

    April 12, 2014 at 3:05 am

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is commonly referred to as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain. Therefore, one is not necessarily wrong to say they are of British nationality or in Chiwetel’s case, Igbo-British, which I think is the most accurate description of his background. Also, if you go to the information page of the British passport, it clearly states “British” under the nationality section. On another note, I sometimes get the sense that people identify as Nigerian in a way that suggests that they are using it as an ethnic identity instead of a national identity.

  35. onahboy

    April 12, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Ask Gov of Enugu
    He knows better and a close brother to him

  36. Ex. Lesbian chic

    April 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Chiwetel now u are NigerianBritish can I call u “Mazi Chiwetelu” ?
    And don’t forget ur village in Ezeagu Enugu State that will forever die ds ur unfortunate Igbo-Nigerian wahala.

    We now understand ur mom has serious issues with the Ejiofor extended family but now u are a full grown man in ur late 30s u can make ur own judgement and make mends some irrational Nigerians are making a fuze of ur identity since that was what ur late dad was trying correct when u come in d east him.

    All said about ur Nigerian identity depends in true self cos it might not be who are but it’s definitely ur real ROOTs.

    And I bet u will earn more respect when u give back in charity n being kind hearted Bcs it has nothing with reciprocity.

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