Nigerian IK has become synonymous with Big Brother Africa, presenting the live shows to DStv’s African audiences. Recently Quick Talk sat with him during the MultiChoice Africa Content Showcase extravaganza in Mauritius, and yes, dis broda is just as hot off the screen…
What does your name mean? I just can’t pronounce it, I’m sorry.
My full name is Ikponmwosa Osakioduwa [he spells it out]. The first name means ‘I thank God’ and Osakioduwa means ‘God opens a door to prosperity’.
Wow. Was that really given by your parents?
My first name is from my parents; my surname wasn’t my original surname. My original surname was Oviawe, but it has some – in my opinion – ungodly implications.
What does Oviawe mean?
It is a pledge of allegiance to a goddess deity and I am a Christian and thought it would be awkward. So, I changed it…
…To a mouthful! Does your wife carry your name?
[Laughing:] Just my last name. I knew it would be a mouthful but it has some character.
I am surprised you are that deeply Christian. You come across as the ultimate party animal.
I was a party animal. I kind of still am a party animal, but because of my Christian background, I like to party within decent parameters.
What decent parameters, now?
Have fun, hurt nobody. You can party, but if it is going to cause any kind of harm to family, friends… You want to party but stay on the right side of God. Dancing is not a sin, but when you turn the dance floor into a ‘fast food joint’ where you take people away, then there’s a problem [that would be fun; a double IK, with some Nnaji topping, please…]
You are a great dancer [Yes, the brother can move.] I watched you at the Viacom activation [Viacom is the media network supplying DStv channels including BET, MTV and Nickelodeon], and maaaan….! How old are you?
[Laughing:] I was born on May 21, 1979. I’m 36. My dad [Brigadier General Samuel Oviawe] is a fun guy; he is a party person. He was the first person to take me to a nightclub. I was 15 years old and he said, ‘listen, there’s not that much here; don’t get pressured into clubbing’.
Some forward-looking dad! Is he still alive?
Yes, he is alive. My mum passed away in 2012 [IK, whose countenance clouds over at this point, lost his mother, Felicia Oviawe, to cancer just three days after his birthday.] I was in the middle of Big Brother. It was one of the hardest times of my life. Everyone was worried whether I would be able to cope with the show, but I survived.
I’m sorry. And you did well.
You and Big Brother are quite popular in Uganda…
That’s nice. I like Uganda. I feel at home there. The people are very welcoming, I’m glad to know they like me. Big Brother has been a pleasurable ride for me. It has been quite an educational ride. It is the biggest show I have ever presented.
I remember coming out there the first time and realising I wasn’t prepared for the live element of the show. I couldn’t hear properly; they block off one of your ears so the director can speak to you any time and in the second ear you are almost drowned out by the screaming crowd. So many cameramen, so many soundmen…it was quite a learning curve.
Do you have a favourite housemate?
No, I have never had a season where I had a candidate I was rooting for. I am not allowed to speak to any of them before I meet them on stage. A few days to the show, they sit me down and take me through the entire process of how they selected these people.
They’ll show me audition tapes of even people who did not make it. They give me background history and data, psychoanalysis on each person…I also google and do a lot of homework on each housemate. By the time you meet them you feel like you are friends with them.
Surely some have grown on you?
After the seasons you find that some people gravitate towards you more than others.
Feza [from Tanzania]. Feza is a very good friend of mine; if ever she is in my country she knows I’ll take care of her. Then there is Gaetano Kagwa [Uganda’s first BBA representative, now at Capital FM].
I didn’t host his season, but somehow we became very good friends through Studio 53 [Gaetano hosted the Mnet show, with IK as a field presenter.] I’m very close to him. He is one of my role models in the business. He used to train me. Gaetano is awesome; people really don’t know how technically sound he is.
Gaetano will love reading that! I’m surprised you don’t have the Nigerian accent. Were you educated in Nigeria?
Yes… I lived abroad for a few years, but I don’t like to reference it.
Very few African presenters are successfully humorous in English, because we think in our local dialects, but you do that effortlessly…
Thank you very much, I appreciate that.
So, where did you go to school?
I schooled in Nigeria mostly. I was abroad for three, four years, but I don’t reference it. Nigeria has about 175 ethnic groups and a bunch of languages as well, but my education was in different parts of the country, because my dad was in the army; so, we didn’t stay in one place long enough to learn a Nigerian language.
And we were in international schools; so, unfortunately I never got to learn any of the Nigerian languages. I still want to find a teacher, though…
So, your kids…
…My kids are completely English. They don’t speak any Nigerian languages [IK has a six-year-old and a three-year-old].
Your wife [Olo] must be a very patient woman! [IK is quite the ladies’ man. He calls random women ‘honey’, ‘sweetheart’, ‘babe’ and is generous with the bear hugs too…]
She is a very patient woman, honestly. She is a very understanding woman, because I am a bit of a flirt and in talking you say a lot of foolish things and attract a lot of unnecessary attention.
At the opening ceremony [in Mauritius], you asked Banky W what he would choose between onion eye drops and sandpaper toilet paper…answer that yourself.
Onion eye drops certainly! I would rather cry than walk around sore for the rest of the week.
And given a choice to bare your thoughts or bare your nudity?
I would share my thoughts, I think. [Seriously? Quick Talk tells him her thoughts are dangerous and would sooner share her nudity.] The thing is, with nudity, it would be awkward with kids and all, but with thoughts I know other people think the same thoughts like me. We all think the same rubbish…
If you were to go to a Desert Island, what’s the one thing you would take?
My wife [they’ve been married seven years].
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