Kanayo O. Kanayo (KOK) is inarguably one of the greatest men to ever come out of Nollywood. He has been in the industry since the very beginning, appearing in series like The Village Headmaster and the iconic film that is credited as the start of Nollywood, Living in Bondage.
The veteran sat with Chude Jideonwo on the third episode of ‘With Chude’ on Africa Magic Urban on Sunday to discuss life at 60, his childhood, political runs, and even how he’s stayed relevant in an industry like Nollywood for about 40 years.
Here are some essential things the award-winning actor talked about in his interview:
1. Attitude to work: No one is better-suited to teach someone how best to work than a man who has built and maintained a career for about 40 years amidst dabbling into other industries. KOK used to own a PR agency in Surulere and became a lawyer at 58 years old, all while maintaining his place in Nollywood. He shared, “What I can tell you is I’m doing my job without looking at the rewards and awards. If you have your mind set that you want to be a star, what if you are not a star at the end of the day. So, keep doing your job, pray to remain relevant, and improve yourself educationally.”
2. You need education to be great, even in Nollywood: Kanayo has five academic degrees, diplomas in Mass Communication and Law, Philosophy and Political Science and his most recent, a Law. He shared that he once told someone who reached out to him with a GCE certificate that he wasn’t qualified to be an actor. He believes no one is qualified to be an actor until they finish at least one degree and earn a Bachelors degree.
3. Chase your dreams until you can’t anymore: Kanayo went back to school at over 50 years old to chase his lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer and was called to the Nigerian Bar at 58. He shared, “I finished my studies in the law in 2018 at the University of Abuja, and then I gained admission into The Nigerian Law School. For that one year in law school, I couldn’t keep acting. Most lecturers will ask you, ‘did you come for popularity or to study’. I have always wanted to be a lawyer because what I do on TV is what a lawyer does in court, but under different auspices. There is a stage, and if he fails to speak well, he loses the case, and you go to jail.”
4. You can’t really be a failure at something that taught you lessons: It’s easy for myopic people to call Kanayo a ‘failed politician’, but the man doesn’t believe he is. He ran for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2010/2011 and 2017/2018, and lost both times, but he learned lessons about politics in Nigeria. He said, “My first contest was in 2010, when I tried to get the ticket for the House of Representatives, but it was a good experience. Everybody brings his big bucket to obtain from you. Here, you must carry garden egg to the men who should support you instead of them giving you kolanut. If we keep going this way, there is no future for politics in Nigeria because you have to borrow money or sell your house to serve the people. So immediately you get into office, the first thing you want to do is to get the money back. That’s the problem we have.”
5. Child labour can increase the chances of children committing suicide: As a child, Kanayo used to dig pit latrines and later sell Agidi, and after a while, he started to have suicidal thoughts. After digging pit latrines in his village for a while, his brother took him to Enugu, but things didn’t really get better. He told Chude, “My brother withdrew me from the village and took me to Enugu, where his wife used to sell Agidi. I would trek from New Haven to Abakpa. One day, I got to that Abakpa bridge, and as a small boy with heavy wares on the head, one mind said to me, ‘why don’t you jump in and end it?’ I managed to cross that bridge and sold all the Agidi to avoid heavy beatings. It wasn’t a friendly childhood, but I had to contribute to the economy of the house.”
Trust that the veteran had more to say on this episode ‘With Chude’. Catch up on the show on DStv catch up or get ready to hear more and learn more straight out of the mouths of your favourite celebrities when brand new episodes return every Sunday at 8 pm. Watch the show on Africa Magic Urban (DStv ch. 153 or GOtv ch. 6).
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