With a flourishing family life, a successful business group and years of experience in leadership positions, Arthur Ikechukwu Anoke, popularly known as Ike, has been part of change on the Kenyan showbiz scene. And having seen and done it all, Ike is now set for a political career.
Back in 2008 when Ike came to Kenya to work for the Nigerian-based M-Tech Group, he was supposed to work for three months as per his contract. But soon after his contract ended, things took a twist, and to date, what was supposed to be a short stay turned into a lifetime opportunity. In Nairobi, he struck gold and decided to live here.
“I was only 24, the first born in my family, which is based in Nigeria, and even as I came to Kenya as a management consultant for the M-Tech company, I was set to go back home,” recalls Ike who has been profiled as one of the most successful and influential Nigerians under 40.
However, after three months, the M-Tech directors felt that the young man had much more to offer, and that he should stay in Kenya for a while longer to help with office management, to which he agreed.
At 26 years of age, he became the company’s managing director, in charge of the Kenyan office. During this time, Ike had noticed a few reservations by Kenyans towards Nigerians, the kind that were not good for business, and he was determined to change that.
“Upon touching down in Kenya, I felt a sense of hostility,” he laughs “Even the airport attendants took hours checking my luggage, as other passengers swiftly walked in. I was about to throw a fit when someone showed me a newspaper story in which some Nigerians had been nabbed with drugs.”
Starting his Kenyan stay on the wrong footing, Ike was ready to bring about change and sell the Nigerian brand to Kenyans on a positive note.
“Most Kenyans I came across had a negative perspective towards Nigerians thanks to rumours and scandal so I resolved to change that.”
It was after attending several Kenyan events that he decided to start a social-entertainment event called Naija Night in Kenya where Nigerians would get to mingle with Kenyans and also learn to appreciate their cultures. But it was not without hassle, as he had to source all the initial funding from his own pocket and goodwill from a few friends. In the long run, the event was a success, and it was then that he decided to delve into events organisation.
Soon after launching Naija Night, Kenyans warmed up to the idea of embracing Nigerian content such as music and movies. And considering that Naija Night was a success, Ike sought to partner with Nigerian veteran comedian Opa Williams to introduced the Night of a Thousand Laughs to Kenya, the biggest comedy show in Africa.
“A Night of a Thousand Laughs really boosted the comedy industry in Kenya and across Africa.
Once the show hit Nairobi, everyone started embracing comedy, turning it into mutli-million shilling earner, just like music and acting. “It was a timely move,” Ike remarks.
With his brand rising, and his name becoming common in Kenyan showbiz circles, Ike, who was now group managing director of the M-Tech Group, had reached his peak and was geared to step down and start his own company.
“Becoming the M-Tech Group CEO was a great achievement for me. During that time I was able to learn a lot and bring about change. I also realised that I had to start my own events company, so I started the Taurus Music group.”
Taurus kicked off by signing Camp Mulla. It was this same stable that encouraged Nigerian artistes such as P-Square and Bracket to come and hold shows in Kenya. Soon, Kenya was a hub for Nigerian artistes to come perform and the local fans also warmed up to the idea of Nigerian content. And spreading his wings further, he reached out to Tanzanian, Ugandan and South African artistes, some of whom he signed to his label. Everything he touched was turning to gold.
He loved the vibrant social scene in Kenya as well as the people, the Kenyan beauties too from which he found a lover, Borna Nyaoke, a Kenyan model whom his heart could not resist. Borna was a medicine student at the University of Nairobi when the two met. In 2012, they held a glamorous traditional wedding and today, they have a daughter, Zuri Nkechi, who attends Braeside School, a high cost international school in Nairobi.
It was his recent interest in politics however, that left many wondering how he would transition from the Kenyan showbiz scene to Nigerian politics.
“Politics has always been my first love and all my friends always encouraged me to try it out. Since the eligibility for Nigerian politics was 30 years, I decided to wait for the right time.”
Having studied political science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Nigeria, Ike is well versed with Nigerian politics, which he was keen on since a tender age.
“I would always read about Nigerian politics alongside my father from a tender age, and that was our ultimate bonding moment,” he says.
To start off his political quest, Ike has a team in Nigeria that has been running his political campaign under the APC (All Progressives Congress), which he felt shares in his political beliefs. He has also been up and about getting ready for the election primaries, which he hopes to win before the big 2015 General Election date.