THE SHEET Woman Of The Week – ONYEKA ONWENU: An Amazon, An Icon And The Elegant Stallion Of The Nigerian Entertainment Industry

The Elegant Stallion – Onyeka Onwenu

Whenever you hear the name; Onyeka Onwenu, the first thing that comes to mind is music. The truth is, anybody can make good music but only a few can maintain a consistent level of churning out good music like she has done the last 3 decades.

Onyeka Onwenu is unarguably one of Nigeria’s foremost female artists and maybe the most successful of them all. The Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) remains an icon in the Nigerian entertainment industry as a brand that knows her onion. Saying Madam Onyeka has carved a niche for herself in the entertainment industry is an understatement, as she has also expanded her expertise in entertainment into the movie industry by featuring in a number of exclusive movies with the most famous one being Half of a Yellow Sun (2013).

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Onyeka Onwenu Half of a yellow sun
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Onyeka Onwenu in Half of a yellow sun

She is a grassroots mobiliser, an advocate for women empowerment and gender equality. Ms. Onwenu has scripted some of the most memorable songs in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. Onyeka is unique in her brand of music as she stands out as the only musician to have crossed pop with juju music and highlife. Her hitchfree transition between music genres, the entertainment industry and ability to blend effortlessly with the new generation of Nigerian musicians underlines her prowess as the elegant stallion of Nigerian entertainment.

What distinguishes her from her peers is the sonorous sound of her voice – that rich and inspirational undertone you hear in the midst of a rhythmic flow of music. Music ought to be food for the soul, soothe the mind and heal the heart and truth be told, Onyeka Onwenu has done all this with her music. She has used her music to uplift the downtrodden, giving them a reason to be hopeful.


Through her music Onyeka, has enthused unparalleled patriotism, preached, peace, love and tolerance. Onyeka was promoting safe-sex long before it became popular to do so and before Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS population became unmanageable. She did this with “Wait For Me” and Choices” – the lyrics of these two songs focus on family planning, sex education and birth control.

Sean Tizzle meets Onyeka Onwenu

On the 17th of May 1952, an innocent baby girl was born. Barely three decades later, that little baby girl who was born to the family of Hon. Dixon Kanu of Imo descent, announced herself to the world and took the world by storm with her music.

She was her father’s favorite and the last of 5 kids but lost her bestfriend and her inspirational teacher (as she calls her dad) at about the age of 4. As God would have it, she went on to obtain a Bachelors Degree in International Relations and Communication from the Wellesley College in Massachusetts USA and a Master’s Degree in Media studies at the New School for Social Research in New York. Madam Onyeka worked for many years at the United Nations before returning to Nigeria in 1981 to observe her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Lagos.

The turning point in her life came in 1986 when released the famous “One Love” album, her 4th album at that time. The One Love track got a massive reception from the music world and happens to be one of her major hits alongside Iyogogo, Wait for Me, You and I… just to mention a few. Her other albums include: Endless Love, For The Love Of You, Dancing In The Sun, In The Morning Light – which featured the theme song of the BBC/NTA documentary (in the morning light).

Onyeka Onwenu

She continues to work as evident by her recent works “This Land of Mine” a theme song for Nigeria’s Centenary Celebrations, which has received rave reviews around the world. She also has two musical compilations, “The Worshipper” and “The Legend Uploaded.”

She serves as the Good will Ambassador for The Leprosy Mission of Nigeria and Friends Africa, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which galvanizes support from the private sector, Governments and Civil Society for the battle against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Africa.

She has bagged several awards, many including the performing musician association best pop artist for the year 1988, a certificate of appreciation from the United States Aid 1989, a global media awards population institute award, Pan African arts and music award and many more.

Her industriousness and contributions to womanhood has not gone unnoticed. Little wonder she has been bestowed with many awards such as the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of works and contribution to the Artistic, Social, and Cultural Fiber of Nigeria. Also, she received podium honours in the African Movie Academy Award for Best Actress in a supporting role.

D’banj meets Onyeka Onwenu to record the soundtrack of Half of a yellow sun

The music amazon whose children live in the USA, rocks low-cut and owes her accomplishments to her late mother whom she describes as “a disciplinarian” and whose hard work and zest to achieve was infectious. She provided adequately for her fatherless children and thus inspired her children to assume life unmindful of the obstacles, she said.

Onyeka Onwenu is THE SHEET Woman Of The Week…

SEE ALSO: THE SHEET Woman Of The Week: Omotola J. Ekeinde – How She Stumbled Into Nollywood To Become One Of The Highest-Grossing Movie Stars

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