The economic importance of Obi Cubana, Ike Nnobi et al.,

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo
7 min readAug 2, 2021

Until last week, I have never heard the name Obi Cubana. All that I knew of Cubana was all that lifestyle magazines say about the Cubana nightclub in Lagos. I had no idea who owned it. And then, Obinna Iyiegbu, aka Obi Cubana, held the funeral of his mother in Oba, Idemili North Local government of Anambra State.

As pictures and videos from the ceremony saturate social media, I placed a call to an Oba friend of mine in Boston. I asked a simple question. “Who is Obi Cubana?”

My friend did not know him. He told me Obi Cubana was a kid when he was at home. He also mentioned that Obi Cubana’s father was the principal of Merchant of Light, Oba, when he was a high school student there.

After high school at Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha and obtaining a degree in Political Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the kid went out of Anambra state, to Abuja, Owerri, Enugu, Lagos and did well for himself.

Every town or village in Eastern Nigeria has one or two Obi Cubanas. They are the often-misunderstood children of our wobbling Nigeria. They are kids who, despite the odds, have plowed through the rivers of injustice, the stench of corruption, and the air of insecurity to set up businesses, build networks, and climb to the top of the social strata of Nigeria. They are kids who, even when they were sitting in the deepest valley of despair, say to themselves that the world is theirs. In some weird ways, packed in them are the metaphors of what could have been in Nigeria.

There is one like him in Nnobi called Emeka Agbanari, Ike Nnobi of Seaman Mining and Constructions. Like my friend from Oba, I woke up one day to see pictures from Ike Nnobi’s father’s funeral. And then, videos started to emerge of his compound in Nnobi. And that was when I called my folks and asked, “Who is Ike Nnobi?”

For those from outside Igboland who watched the spectacle from Obi Cubana’s burial of his mother, the sense of confusion must be overwhelming. It is quite understandable. Some people were lost in what they saw as “a show-off” of wealth. The hundreds of cows presented as gifts by friends and associates; the hundreds of millions raised by Committee of Friends; the presence of Nigerian entertainment industry royalties…

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Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo is the author of "This American Life Sef."