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How Well Do You Know Kanayo O. Kanayo?

The popular Nigerian actor popularly known as Kanayo O. Kanayo was born March 1, 1962 and hails from Mbaise, Imo State. However, Kanayo O. Kanayo’s is full name is Anayo Modestus Onyekwere.

He is currently a United Nations ambassador and bears the title of MFR. Kanayo along with Kenneth Nnebue (the producer of Living in Bondage), Olu Jacobs, Enoch Adeboye, Queen Elizabeth and Fela Kuti were among Nigerians honored by the government in 2014 during the centenary celebration.

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Background of the man

Born to Donatus and Isabella Onyekwere, from Nru Umueze in Imo State, Kanayo spent his childhood in the family of his elder brother, whose name is John Onyekwere. John was profoundly religious people, so they brought up their son and nephew as Christian men. Their upbringing was through rigorous discipline but also they promoted modesty, honesty, and sense of respect.

Kanayo O. Kanayo received his primary and secondary education in Nigeria at Saint Joseph Primary School and Ahiara Boys Secondary School respectively. Then He entered the University of Lagos, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Master’s degree in Political sciences.

Acting Career

Kanayo is well-known for his first Nollywood film “Living in Bondage” (1992). This debut movie was the start of his distinguished career and put him into the prominent position in Nollywood film industry. His fantastic performance in movies playing the ritualist character earned him the nickname “father of ritualists.” Every producer knows there is nobody better for this role in the whole Nigerian film industry than Kanayo O. Kanayo. Kanayo stated that he made up his mind to enter this industry because he concerned that contemporary television in the 1980s was weak, there were not that much TV-shows, although all the characters were significantly cherished.

After he had graduated from the University of Lagos, he played as a guest star in the popular Nigeria TV-show “New Masquerade.” He starred alongside such actors as Ovuleria, Prince Jegede Shokoya, Chief Zebrudaya, and Giringory (Gregory). He was paid a short fee of 1,500 Naira for his role. This was a major constraint as a young actor, even the bureaucratic processing of payment forms at the Nigeria Television Authority meant that one spent over 70% of his artiste fee before getting paid. It was very discouraging because parents still had to cough out transport fares for their wards who are supposed to be earning their wages. After some performance in this TV-series, he began visiting a lot of film auditions. His biggest breakthrough was his debut movie “Living in Bondage,” where he played a part of Chief Omego, and this role brought him enormous success. The actor made his debut film appearance in 1992 alongside Kenneth Okonkwo.

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Awards and Honours

African Movie Academy Awards honored him with the award of the Most Prominent Actor in Nigeria and as the Best Actor in a Leading Role for his outstanding acting in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The Federal Government also honored Kanayo during the Centenary festival in 2014.

Having starred in more than 100 films, some his most famous movies include: Circles of Doom (1993); The Soul That Sinneth (1999); Billionaires Club (2003); Rituals (1997); Tears in My Heart (2006); Festival of Fire (2002); October 1 (2014); Family Separation (2008); Lost Kingdom (1999); Lionheart; Fire on the Mountain (2002).

Activity beyond movie industry: Philanthropy and Politics

Kanayo maintains Kanayo O. Kanayo Mentoring Academy (KOKMA). According to his words,

‘It is necessary to provide society with feedback. And this need promoted the establishment of KOKMA project, which now is a program for guiding young people’.

-Kanayo O. Kanayo

Kanayo explained that this program allows him to mentor youth who lack control. The academy is coming to educate the youths to enable them discover their talents and harvest them. It is time our youths started looking for ways to improve our society instead of saying negative things about the society. Kanayo is also deeply interested in politics and has an active position.


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Featured Image Source: The Guardian Nigeria

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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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