A protruding tummy jutting out of a blue-coloured long sleeve shirt, black trousers and faux Nike sneakers made the perfect recipe for yet another captivating fictional character in the Nigerian skit-making community.
Sabinus - real name Chuwkwuemeka Ejekwu - warmed his way into the hearts of Nigerians just at a time when the industry appeared occupied to the brim.
The likes of Taaooma, Maraji, Sydney Talker, and Brodda Shaggi to mention a few commanded grand followership with their rib-cracking productions that seemed to have exhausted all the ideas for sellable jokes.
However, the hustle-hardy Sabinus who always finds a way to end up in unfortunate situations struck a chord in people's hearts who could relate to his circumstances all too well.
From the very beginning
Although with an impressive following of over five million fans on social media, the journey didn’t start out all too rosy for Sabinus.
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Like several top comedy acts who started on a small stage, the Port-Harcourt born comic star began as a stand-up comedian at the University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT) where he bagged a degree in Linguistics and Communication Studies.
During a 2022 interview with media personality, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the entertainer disclosed that his father was particularly interested in having him bag a law degree.
Sabinus' initial choice of study from the university had called for a change of course from the HOD who felt he would have been better off joining the theatre arts department.
However, the comedian’s old man who was originally only interested in Law didn’t accommodate the idea of studying theatre arts.
“I studied Linguistics and Communication at UNIPORT but at 100 level I was given a change of course form to change to Theatre arts from the HOD then, but I did accept because my father wanted me to study Law at the beginning. My father wanted me to be a Lawyer, not even that Linguistics and Communication that I studied.”
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After gathering momentum with his productions in Port-Harcourt, the humour merchant realised the need to spread his tentacles even wider, and Lagos was just the place to be.
In 2019, Sabinus packed his bags and relocated to the centre of excellence with a burning desire to make an impressionable mark in the already saturated entertainment industry.
The skit maker told Uchendu during their chat that the move to Lagos was because he realised the city was the base of entertainment.
“My coming to Lagos was because I see it as the main base for entertainment. It gave me new knowledge, ideas,” he said.
A different approach to comedy
“Oga Sabinus can totally have a Mr Bean kind of TV show,” award-winning filmmaker, Niyi Akinmolayan, recently tweeted while commenting on Sabinus’ style of comedy.
The words of the filmmaker are all too familiar to Nigerians who followed the comedy-sitcom, Mr Bean, which aired its first episode in January 1990.
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Like the protagonist played by English actor, Rowan Atkinson, Sabinus deploys a barefaced kind of tomfoolery that is rather unexpected of someone his age, but yet manages to leave viewers pleasantly surprised.
It was easy for Nigerians to latch on to this character that easily invoked a sense of nostalgia and confronted them with cherished childhood memories of Mr Bean.
While the bulk of his colleagues used crossdressing to explore themes of promiscuity, adultery, and other vices, he deployed a family-friendly approach to evoke humour.
Oga Sabinus is that young man who wants to make it big or have his fill of sumptuous meals in the most mischievous way. He is that overly ambitious dude who constantly falls into the trap of get-rich-quick schemes, or finds a way to inject himself into other people’s affairs.
“Sabinus is just that character nothing goes well for. He always does the wrong thing at the right time; things never favour him. He goes out for what he wants but it doesn’t work out,” the skit maker told The Cable’s Stephen Kenachi in a 2021 interview.
For Sabinus, it was important that the viewership of his productions wouldn’t be limited because of the choice of themes explored.
“I try to make it such that a full family can watch. The father, mother, and children can all sit together and watch — not something that limits my viewership to the younger ones or the adult population alone.”
With an appeal that was indeed a breath of fresh air for comedy lovers, it didn’t take long for Sabinus to gain the recognition he came to Lagos for.
Every week saw the entertainer enjoying viral moments on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. He quickly became a go-to content-well for social media influencers who commanded a huge following.
Sabinus became a regular on the Instagram pages of celebrity blogger, Tunde Ednut, Kraks TV, and Yabaleft Online to mention a few.
A reward for hard work
There’s no denying that the months of hard work and dedication to his craft have indeed been a rewarding journey for Sabinus. The funnyman easily comes to the forefront during conversations about skit makers who are raking in millions of naira.
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In April 2021, Sabinus was heartily congratulated by fans, friends and colleagues as he made his first big boy purchase which was indicative of his new financial status.
The skit maker splashed millions of naira on a Mercedes Benz SUV and happily shared pictures of the luxury ride on social media.
Like a typical African kid itching to pay back parents who sacrificed a lot, Sabinus also shelled out millions to build a house for his parents in Port-Harcourt.
“My little gift to my parents ❤️ Mummy and daddy oya manage this small gift from your handsome son,” the comedian wrote while sharing the news with his Instagram fans.
March 2022 also saw the comic actor rewarding a childhood friend with a car for his years of dedication and commitment.
See a picture below:
Apart from the financial gains, things took an even more interesting turn for Oga Sabinus at the eighth edition of the African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards (AMVCA).
He was nominated alongside colleagues Taaoma, Broda Shaggi, Mr Macaroni, Tee Kuro, Kie-Kie Jacqueline Suowari, Victor Edem and Elozonam Ogbolu for the online social content creators’ category.
Even though he had been putting in the work, the star-packed category appeared intimidating and any hope of snagging the award had been nipped in the board.
However, when Nollywood actor Kunle Remi announced Sabinus as the winner of the category, a collective cheer enveloped the hall as the entertainer tried to make sense of what just happened.
During his speech, an overwhelmed Sabinus admitted that he had no hopes at all of winning the category, and this was quite evident as he didn’t have any fancy speech prepared.
He, however, managed to disclose that the award is his very first since he moved to Lagos and started his journey in the comedy industry.
Hours after the win, Sabinus wrote on his Instagram page.
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“What more can I say? A big thank you to all my beautiful and handsome fans that made this possible and my team. We go again and also a big win to all my awesome colleagues @mrmacaroni1 @taaooma @kie_kie__ @tee_kuro @elozonam This is a big win for all of us.”