I don’t regret marrying a Nigerian — Oyinbo Princess

Oyinbo Princess
Popularly known as Oyinbo Princess, this British-born actor and comedienne is admired for her mastery of the Pidgin English. Married to a Nigerian, she talks about her love for Nigeria
Briefly talk about your background
I was born into a small family and raised in the United Kingdom. Growing up for me was challenging and rewarding, but most of all I have very fond memories of it. After college, I worked in Greece as an activities assistant for children. Upon returning to the UK, I stumbled on a full-time role in the travel industry. I was also a manager for a foremost recruitment firm in London, and worked for one of the leading airlines.
What is your real name?
My real name has been kept confidential; my management team believe this is best as everyone knows me as Oyinbo Princess. I do feel that at the right time, my full name will become common knowledge.
What fuelled the passion to learn and speak Pidgin English?
My passion for Nigeria pushed me to learn and be as involved as I could be. I became interested in Pidgin English in the early 2000s, when I listened to artistes such as Tuface, PSquare, Timaya and Duncan Mighty. I noticed that many of the songs sounded quite like English, but I could tell they were different from pure English. From loving the beats, I became interested in learning the meaning of the lyrics. I found myself seeking the attention of Nigerians living in London, who I could learn from.
How long did it take you to learn Pidgin English?
It took many years to become familiar with the language and I still have so much more to learn every day. I was a little shy about speaking it, but by making mistakes, I learnt the correct way to speak. I still make mistakes and have a British accent when pronouncing certain words or phrases. I like to be corrected in order to help me in future. I would love to learn the Warri version of the language, called Waffi.
You are also an actor and comedienne, how did you discover that part of you?
Acting came naturally to me. I became interested in acting from a young age and took part in many local productions. As a child and young adult, I was a member of the Royal Theatre of Dance and Drama Association, where I discovered it was definitely a path I wished to follow. I like to be on stage, in front of the camera and in the spotlight.
What do you find captivating about Nigeria?
The beauty of the country and landscape, the differences in culture and hospitality of the Nigerians I have met fascinate me. Sometimes, I forget that I am British when I am around Nigerians. Nigerians are truly inspiring, irrespective of the unfortunate cases reported in the media. Nigeria is the most amazing place. I believe that our cultures are fairly similar in terms of respect and hospitality.
How often do you visit Nigeria?
I have lost count of the number of times I have visited Nigeria. I wish to build my own house in Nigeria and spend every year shuttling between Nigeria and England. I would like to work in Nigeria with Nollywood artistes, and invest some of my earnings in projects which will be beneficial to the local people. I look forward to what the future holds, with God’s grace.
You are married to a Nigerian…
Yes, and it has been three years. I met him when I visited a friend of mine who was also dating a Nigerian. I requested that he brought his friend to balance the date. From the second I met him, I instantly felt a connection to him. I was swept off my feet by his pleasant manners, interest in me as a person and caring attitude. It felt good to have someone passionate about me and as time passed, I knew he was the one for me.
Do you regret not marrying a Briton?
I do not regret marrying a Nigerian. I like the spark which comes from being in a biracial relationship and enjoy learning things different from what I may be used to. I married the man I love and I would not want it any other way.
What challenges do you face as a result of the cross-cultural marriage?
There are obviously some obstacles to overcome especially when learning something new. Rather than seeing things as challenges, I see things as learning curves, where I can educate myself on how to manage certain situations by putting things into practice. Being a Christian, I love God and feel the church is a place where respect of others is fundamental. I treat others in the way I wish to be treated.
Did your family oppose your decision marry a Nigerian?
We were both lucky to have families who stood by us and supported our decisions to get married. We were automatically accepted into each other’s family. They understood that the most important key to our marriage is love.
How do you compete with other artistes?
I believe that I am good at what I do and I simply do what I do because of the passion I have for it; the fame or money involved at times is simply a bonus. Most British entertainers entertain in Queens English and seek people who speak and understand plain English, but I sail my own ship. My audience are fundamentally Nigerians. Being a white British lady adds the unexpected factor and seems to be accepted as a good thing.
How did you learn to cook Nigerian meals?
Over the years, I have managed to cook a variety of Nigerian dishes. I learn and recreate Nigerian dishes in my kitchen. I eat almost anything. I learnt from sources, both from visiting Nigeria to watching people cook and visiting websites to follow recipes. I refer to YouTube for procedures too.
Do you have any style preference?
I wear what I feel comfortable in and dress for the occasion at hand. I dress casually for day-to-day activities, usually with leggings and a top or a cardigan in cooler weather. For formal events, I like to dress up and look the part. If I have to attend a Nigerian event, I wear one of my many traditionally-sewn garments, including a gele. My definition of style depends on the mood I am in and where I am going to.
How do you keep fit and what are your beauty routines?
I would love to take part in more fitness-related activities but I am often pushed for time. I often go swimming and also enjoy tennis. Having enough sleep, combined with healthy diet is a must for me. I am a hygienic person; I bathe at every opportunity, two to three times a day – I like to moisturise my body with a nice firming and nourishing cream to help keep my skin young and soft in appearance. I take pride in growing my natural nails, which makes me feel girly.

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