If you were an adolescent in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, you probably know or have heard of Julie Coker. Till today, if your given name is Julie, people of that generation automatically add ‘Coker’ as a sobriquet.
Though retired, Chief Julie Coker remains one of the shining lights in the history of broadcast journalism in Nigeria.
Daughter of a Yoruba father and Itsekiri mom, and based in the UK; Chief Coker visits Nigeria at least once a year, shuttling between Lagos, Ikorodu and Warri. She returned to the UK at the end of February, just before the corona virus lockdown saga began.
Now 79, and very uncomfortable with the tedium of isolation, Chief Coker bent her artistic talents toward producing a video.
The video shows a youthful looking, merry grandma prancing as though it was her 60th birthday.
A former actress and beauty queen (she was Miss Western Nigeria in 1957), she was married to another broadcasting icon, Michael Enahoro.
One of their children, Richard, was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia as a child and raised in London. He passed away in 2002, aged 29, following treatment for leukemia.
The Richard Coker Foundation (RCF) is named in Richard’s honour. The Foundation, run together with Chief Coker’s nephew, Baba-Jallah Epega has been at the forefront of SCD sensitization across several States in Nigeria. In 2019, the RCF carried out SCD awareness and Essay Writing competitions at several secondary schools in Lagos, in tandem with the world’s 1st Pidgin English Opera composed by The Venus Bushfires, for students at the Alliance Francaise and the MUSON Centre, Lagos.
Hopefully, by July, the coronavirus apocalypse would have petered out, enough for a grand 80th Birthday for one of Africa’s pioneer television Amazons.