By Soni Irabor
From 1955, when the first T.V. station in Africa took to the airwaves, Nigeria has come a long way in music, arts, entertainment and broadcasting. From a very young age, Chief (Ms) Julie Coker was right in the middle of it all. Ms Julie Coker was the first female newscaster in sub-Saharan Africa, at an age when this field was dominated by men.
Everything she has put her finger to in the art world has blossomed beyond imagination, even though she may not always get the credit.
Take Nollywood. You could trace its roots to when Julie Coker handpicked the best films to be aired, encouraging and rewarding good performance and professionalism.
Take music. A friend of the late Afro Beat King Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ms Coker did three albums with E.M.I (Nigeria). A compilation of seven of her songs was released in 2017.
Her 2nd Album was produced in ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS, LONDON and MADE FAMOUS BY THE BEATLES
Julie Coker’s father is from Abeokuta and her mother is Itsekiri from Warri.
Winning the maiden edition of Miss Western Nigeria in 1958 and also 1st runner-up at the Miss Nigeria contest same year, opened doors for the young lady who attended Holy Child College, Lagos. Initially employed as a receptionist at Western Nigeria Television Service, she eased into her niche as a Newscaster when her senior colleague, Mrs. Anike Agbaje-Williams, proceeded on maternity leave.
From that time, Julie Coker became a household name in Nigerian TV. She has over the years helped groom a generation of women (and men) in TV in Africa’s most populous nation.
A dame of many artistic parts, Julie Coker has also been a successful actress, singer, popular TV host along the Oprah Winfrey cast, brand ambassador and teacher of broadcasters.
She was 1st Star in Sanya Dosumu’s DINNER WITH THE DEVIL and THE BROKEN BRIDE BY KELLY TODONGHANRO OF BLACKWOOD STUDIOS, London
Her main interest, till today, lies in coaching children for a bright future – she was a paid school teacher before national limelight found her.
Saturday, July 25, 2020, the Yeye-Olofin of Ile-Ife (The Source), Iya Eto of Lagos and African Elder Statesman begins a new life as an octogenarian. A special dinner was organized to celebrate her Saturday, July 25, by Oloye Lekan Alabi at Omo Ajorosun club, Agodi, Ibadan.
She has two sons, Michael and Richard but lost Richard Coker-Enahoro in 2004 to Sicle Cell Anaemia.
An avid lover of children, in particular children beset with health and social challenges, Chief Julie Coker is the CEO of Richard Coker Foundation, a UK-based charity focussed on sickle cell awareness.
Happy birthday to an Icon and legendary broadcater.