Veteran singer and actress, Onyeka Onwenu is one the founding personalities and can be likened to a legend in the Nigerian entertainment industry. She also doubles as a journalist and a politician, which is very striking and exceptional. Onyeka Onwenu is a judge on the reality TV show, X Factor alongside other singers. The legend is not retiring anytime soon as featured in recording breaking movie, ‘Lionheart’.
Here’s everything you should know about the entertainment legend, Onyeka Onwenu.
Onyeka Onwenu was born in January 1952. She is from Arondizuogu, a small town in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State in the southeastern part of Nigeria. She is the youngest daughter of the Nigerian educationist and politician D.K Onwenu. Her father died when she was four years old in an auto crash. Onwenu got her BA in International Relations and Communication of the Wellesley College of Massachusetts, USA, and a master’s degree in Media Studies from The New School for Social Research in New York.
She has a big career chain, from broadcasting to music and acting.
She worked for many years at the United Nations in New York before returning to Nigeria in 1980, where she completed the mandatory one-year National Service, at the NTA where she made an impact as an articulate, incisive and fearless reporter.
In 1984, she wrote and presented the internationally acclaimed BBC/NTA documentary called Nigeria, A Squandering of Riches which became the definitive film about corruption in Nigeria as well as the intractable Niger Delta agitation for resource control and campaign against environmental degradation in the oil-rich region of Nigeria. She has also served on the board of the NTA. She was nicknamed ‘The Elegant Stallion‘ by the media, and the alias has stuck till date.
Onwenu began her music career in 1981 while still working with the NTA, releasing the album “For the Love of You”. Originally a secular artist, she now sings mainly gospel music and continues to write and sing about issues such as health (HIV/AIDS), peace and mutual coexistence, respect for women rights and the plight of children. Her latest effort titled, “Inspiration for Change” focuses on the need for an attitudinal turn around in Nigeria.
She got a partnership with Paris-based La Cave Musik, headed by Nigerian cultural entrepreneur Onyeka Nwelue, and UK-based Jungle Entertainment Ventures, headed by musicologist David Evans-Uhegbu. La Cave Musik is set to release her collection titled Rebirth of a Legend in November.
In 2013, she was named as one of the three judges on the Nigerian version of The X Factor. In recognition of her contribution to music and arts in Nigeria, she has been celebrated by professionals like Mahmood Ali-Balogun, Laolu Akins, Charles O’Tudor, and former PMAN president Tony Okoroji among others in the arts industry in Nigeria.
A member of the People’s Democratic Party, Onwenu was in the running to become Local Council Chairman of her native Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State but was appointed Chairperson of Imo State Council for Arts and Culture by former governor Ikedi Ohakim. On 16th of September 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan appointed her the Executive Director/chief executive officer of the National Centre for Women Development.
Onyeka Onwenu is also a proficient actress, having actively partaken in a number of movies alongside top local acts. She even won an award at the 2006 African Movie Academy Award as Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In 2014. She featured in the movie, ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ and also recently in ‘Lionheart’ and many other movies.
It is not known for sure if Onyeka Onwenu is married to the father of her children. All that is know is that he has the last name “Ogunlende” because this is the last name of her two sons. However, Onyeka prefers to keep her personal life as private as possible, and not reveal a lot about her family.
Singer, Onyeka Onwenu has two sons, Tijani Ogunlende and Onyeka Nwelue. Tijani Ogunlende is a graphic designer and photographer. The other son Abraham Ogunlende is a painter, he is often called “Painterabe.”
Onwenu is one of the richest musicians and actresses in Nigeria, she has an estimated net worth of $700,000.