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Kanayo O. Kanayo… The bar beckons Nollywood’s big man

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It is just the traditional ‘Call to bar’ ceremony that is left. Outside that, the indubitable top Nollywood actor and later day politician, Anayo Modestus Onyekwere or KOK for short, has crossed all the qualification hurdles that there is to be listed as a legal practitioners in Nigeria.

The actor and media consultant was successful in the recent bar examination and it took the result, which was released last week, for the cyberspace to witness a delirium. Fans, colleagues and friends of the actor took to their respective social media platforms to eulogise the actor’s actor of many credit who holds the national honour of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR).

“This is a milestone and a great achievement. I’m very proud of KOK, he has done so very well for himself,” notable media personality Chris Kehinde Nwandu said shortly after he broke the news of KOK’s success at the bar exams on his facebook page.

The eulogies poured in thereafter and have continued to pour for the former Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Studies (NIHOTOURS), who is clearly one of Nigeria’s screen celebrities.

It was an elated KOK, who took to his social media handles to thank everyone for their early messages of congratulation.

“I’m grateful for your very warm messages; I give all the glory to God. This is a greater call to service. We will celebrate after the call to bar ceremony, which should be soon. Please, stay safe and observe all the covid-19 protocols,” he wrote.

A top rated actor, who has shown total commitment to excellence, KOK is perhaps one of the few actors of the Nigerian motion picture industry who can be aptly described as an actor with a strong screen presence. Always the lead actor in movies, a movie producer was once quoted as saying that a movie is considered a best seller if KOK stars in it.

Even his colleagues in the industry speak very highly of him. For them whatever Kanayo does, he does it very well and leaves a memory behind. Indeed, a confirmation of Kanayo’s status as a versatile actor came in 2006 when he was named the Best Actor in Africa at the 2006 edition of Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA). Even critics, who are known to be stingy with remarks, endorsed the decision of the AMAA Jury to award the crest of Best Actor to the native of the small wine tapping town of Nru Umueze Oboama, in Ezinihitte Mbasie, Local Council of Imo State.

An iconoclast by industry rating, acting for KOK, who spent his formative years in Aba, began in 1982. He explained that he got into acting out of a personal desire to bring smiles to the faces of people. He also wanted to be greatly admired and to become something of a role model like most top television personalities at that time.

He was particularly a fan of the late veteran actor Matt Dadzie and so each time he was exposed to the deft acting ability of that star and producer of the long rested television soap Behind The Clouds, he yearned to become as formidable and as popular as Dadzie. But he needed to establish whether indeed he had the talent. That fact was reinforced at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Aba and in Enugu and much later in Lagos where he was given the opportunity to exhibit his acting bent.

A gifted actor, who enjoys mass appeal both within and outside Nigeria, Kanayo’s debut performance on screen was as Chief Omego, a supporting actor in the groundbreaking home video production Living in Bondage. He had done some acting on television prior to his debut on home video, but he ‘suspended’ acting on television and instead concentrated on trading when it obvious that he couldn’t make ends meet acting on television.

However, KOK only engaged in buying and selling for a few years, as he eventually returned to the acting turf where he exhibited a kick that has won him a growing legion of fans. In fact, it didn’t take long after Kanayo’s debut on home video before he became an instant choice for producers.

Those, who have followed his acting career, say that it took only that effort in Living in Bondage for KOK to draw attention to his honest and concise handling of roles. Today, KOK, who made two unsuccessful attempts to represent his community of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency in Imo State at the Federal House of Representatives, is celebrated as an actor of outstanding ability.

Star of four of NTA’s rested soaps, Ripples, Checkmates, Village Headmaster and the New Masquerade, KOK has featured in over 120 movies with a lot more still at various stages of production. In Kanayo’s movie pouch are such critically acclaimed works like Desperate Billionaire, Living Dead, Blood Money, Rituals, Lost kingdom, Fire on the Mountain, Billionaires Club, Apaye, and more recently Up North.

Appointed by the Board of Trustees of the Actor Guild of Nigeria (AGN) at a time to head the guild in interim capacity, KOK who is cited in “who is who” in Nigeria, Year 2000 and The Igbo Icon 2006, is married and the union is blessed with children. Outside the turf, KOK runs Yobafa, a media consultancy outfit, which he established over a decade ago. With a law degree of the University of Abuja now in the bag, KOK will have to combine running his media outfit with running a chamber.

Asked if his decision to practice law would mean that acting would take a back seat for him, KOK who is a recipient of so many honours and award including the AMAA Life Time Achievement award, the Afro-Hollywood Award, ZAFAA Academy Award of Excellence and the Ambassador Award, which he received in New York chuckled and said, “Artistes don’t retire. Acting will remain my first love. The only thing is that we will be operating more now at policy level and making sure that we have all the structures that will make us operate optimally,” he surmised.


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