We all know him from the 1992 nollywood movie, Living in Bondage. From there, the legendary nollywood actor, Kanayo O Kanayo carved a niche for himself in the Nigerian Movie Industry, Nollywood.
When producers need someone to act the role of the ritual doer, this nollywood star, Kanayo O Kanayo definitely tops the list. He acts the role so well that whenever he featured in any nollywood movie, you could easily tell the storyline.
He is usually wealthy in most movies and the main source of his money is blood money, which is ritual money.
His real name is Anayo Modestus Onyekwere but he is popularly known as Kanayo O Kanayo or KOK. He is a Nigerian actor, who was born on the 1st of March, 1962 in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria. He was born to Mr. and Mrs. Donatus and Isabella Onyekwere of Nru Umueze, Oboama Ezinihitte Mbaise in Imo State.
Kanayo was brought up by his elder brother, John Onyekwere in Enugu. The actor revealed that his parents were Christians and as a result his upbringing was very strict in discipline. His mother was also responsible for his upbringing as a Christian because she was deeply religious and taught him humility.
Kanayo O Kanayo had his primary education at Saint Joseph Primary School Mbaise, Imo State and his secondary education at Ahiara Boys Secondary School Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria. After which his completed his secondary education at Technical College Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
After his secondary and primary education he went o University of Lagos. The veteran actor holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Philosophy and a Master’s Degree in Political Science, both from the University of Lagos.
Kanayo O Kanayo Acting Career
After his graduation from the University, he played a guest role at the popular NTA series, New Masquerade. He featured alongside Chief Zebrudaya, Giringory, Prince Jegede Shokoya and Ovuleria. From then, he started attending movie auditions. He became highly famous after starring as Chief Omego in the 1992 blockbuster movie “Living in Bondage”
Prior to acting, Kanayo used to buy and sew shirts and suit materials which he sold to bank and office workers.
The actor made his debut film appearance in 1992 when he featured in the popular movie, ‘Living in Bondage’ alongside Kenneth Okonkwo. Shockingly, he was paid a meagre N1,500 for his role in Living in Bondage in 1992.
Kanayo was also a part of the Village Headmaster which featured on Television Play House as well as other soaps like Checkmate and Ripples. Since then his acting career has shot to the sky.
Talking about his acting career in an interview, he had said: “I started acting in 1982. I got into acting out of a personal desire to bring smiles to the faces of people, because about 1980, there were not too many T.V sets then, characters on TV were admired greatly, and were seen as role models.
“The major constraint as a young actor was the bureaucratic processing of payment forms at the Nigeria Television Authority, 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,”’ he had said.
Meanwhile, he has his major breakthrougjh in the industry when he featured in the movie, No.7
He also runs a media consultancy outfit, and own a cyber cafй in Lagos.
Kanayo O Kanayo Movies
This big time nollywood talented actor has acted in over 250 nollywood movies which include Circles of Doom, Nneka, Billionaires Club, Rituals, Tears for Love, Blood Money, Udu Bundle, Stingy Millionaire, Lost kingdom, Fire on the Mountain, and Entangled, The Suitors,to name a few.
The actor revealed that Lost Kingdom which was produced by Infinity Merchants in 1999 and Blood Money are two of his favourite movies.
He said it was exciting to lead one of the largest casts in a Nigerian movie when he featured in Lost Kingdom. On the other hand, Blood Money was shot in the thick of the Otokoto Saga in Owerri which makes it quite unique.
The actor often plays the role of a Chief, rich businessman, top politician, king maker or a godfather.but mostly, a ritualist.
Awards and Endorsements
Kanayo O Kanayo has won several awards and endorsements. In 2005 Kanayo O Kanayo won the award for the Most Prominent Actor in Nigeria at the African Movie Academy Awards.
In 2006, he won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the African Movie Academy Awards. He is currently a United Nations Ambassador.
The actor was also honored by the Federal Government during the 2014 Centenary celebration alongside Kenneth Nnebue (producer of Living in Bondage), Olu Jacobs, Enoch Adeboye, Queen Elizabeth and Fela Kuti in 2014, when he was given the national honour of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). He is currently acting WS professor Johnbul , TV sitcom that aires on NTA
Kanayo is married to Nneka Onyekwere and they have a girl, Uloaku Valerie and three boys, Clinton Onye Eze Mbaise, Kosisochukwu Montell and Einstein.
Talking about his family he had said: “I spend some time with my family (which I take very seriously). My schedule is too tight right now for any other activities.”
Kanayo O Kanayo Mentoring Academy (KOKMA)
According to Kanayo, his decision to give back to the society led to the launch of KOKMA as a platform for mentoring youths. The actor revealed that this platform enable him educate younger people who need direction.
One of the goals of KOKMA is to identify the real strength of individuals and leverage on that. The actor believes that whatever he lost in his youth shouldn’t be lost by the next generation.
Nollywood according to Kanayo was at its peak in the 90’s. he recalled that in those days, the industry generated employment and there was passion and commitment to the industry.
The actor also revealed that the industry currently has no design and as a result, it has remained largely unstructured.
Kanayo believes there’s the absence of institutional funding mechanism which is what the industry needs to move forward. Also, the actor proposed that the following requires improvement;
- Establishment of enabling law for enhancement of professional practice.
- Creation of synergy between various parastatals for greater efficiency.
- Promotion of foreign and local investment in the industry; favourable tax laws in form of tax rebates and tax holidays.
- Practitioners especially actors should be sponsored to international festivals.
Kanayo once disclosed his interest in politics which was borne out of his desire to serve and influence decisions in the nation.
According to the actor, he wanted to be an asset to the people of his community in terms of development and creating an enterprising community.
In 2011, Kanayo ran for election to represent the people of Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives but lost. He was later appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan as one of the members of the governing boards of the 42 federal government agencies and parastatals.
In 2018, Kanayo endorsed Tony Nwulu as the Imo State PDP Governorship Candidate.
In June 2018, Kanayo declared his intention to run for a slot at the House of Representatives. The actor is hoping to represent Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency of Imo State.
“Hello Friends, good evening. History has been made today as I declared my intention to run for the House of Representatives, Ahiazu/ Ezinihitte Mbaise Federal Constituency, Imo State under the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA. I owe you this information as I enlist your prayers and support. #OverAndOut,” he has said.
He has now joined the growing number of celebrities seeking elective post.
His estimated net worth is $2.5 million. Not long ago, he opened his multi-million naira house in his hometown in Aboh-Mbaise, Imo State.