Not Just Yaw of radio, ‘Yaw Yaw Yaw’ was born for the stage and screen
The birthday shout out on radio, television and social media, as he clocked 40 on Wednesday, was massive. Fans, colleagues, admirers and well-wishers took turns to salute the irrepressible thespian, On Air Personality (OAP), comedian and philanthropist, Steve Onu, aka Yaw.
In fact, to reach Yaw on phone on Wednesday, you had to be patient, because his phone lines were busy till dusk. That is how popular the radio presenter and writer, who once revealed that he ‘sold ice water at Yaba market’ and had to work as a bus conductor to make ends meet, has become.
Yaw is so admired and adored that the kind of treatment he gets on and off the talk box can only be compared to the kind of treatment that top Nollywood and Hollywood stars get.
Perhaps the most listened to OAP on any radio station in Nigeria today, Yaw is the reason why so many ears stay locked on to the Victoria Island, Lagos-based pidgin English radio station, Wazobia FM (95.1).
A graduate of Theatre Arts from the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Yaw has with his unique style of presentation won the hearts of many radio listeners in Lagos and its environs.
A trained actor, voice-over artiste and a Master of Ceremony (MC), the multi-award winner (City People Awards and Mode Men Awards for Best OAP and many others), who keeps people locked on Wazobia FM from 6a.m. to 12noon every week day and on Sunday, Yaw, who hails from Anambra State, was born into a modest home and raised in Lagos.
The seventh child of a family of 10, Yaw, even though has made name as a radio presenter, was not made for radio. The founding member of Optimum Konsortium, a university-based drama group, had always had a flair for the performing arts. He was all over the place in early school days, acting, serving as MC and a stand up act in most of the social events organised by students.
So, it didn’t come as a surprise to those who knew him when they learnt that he had enrolled to study Theatre arts at the LASU. While studying under the guidance of teachers, such as Dr. Sola Fosudo and Associate Professor Tunji Azeez, he found time to do some acting by the sides. He was engaged as a regular artiste on a number of the radio drama series produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
After that, some television producers found Yaw, who has featured in a number of stage productions, including Ahmed Yerima’s Fall of a King and Wole Soyinka’s Trials of Brother Jero, fit to interprete roles on television. They got him to be part of some critically acclaimed television drama productions, such as Twilight Zone, Flat Mates, from where he earned the alias Yaw, Dear Mother and Fuji House of Commotion.
Described by close friends as a humble, caring and unpretentiously friendly, it was just a casual visit with a friend, Bunmi Davies, to see Ibrahim Abubakar of Cool FM at their Etim Inyang Crescent office in Victoria Island, Lagos that turned things around for Onu, who revealled that he draws inspiration from developments around him.
“During our conversation, Abubakar said they want to set up a pidgin English radio station. I then told Bunmi that I wouldn’t mind taking up a job with the station. I was immediately asked to send in a curriculum vitae (CV). It took me about three to four months to write my CV, because I have never written any before.
“Then came the day of the interview and I appeared in a shirt and a pair of jeans with a cap. I appeared very odd, because every other person was either in suit or native attire. I got the job eventually and today, the rest is history,” he recalled.
A widely travelled entertainment personality, Yaw joined the movie industry in 1995 and combined it with stand up comic performances, stage performances and participation in radio drama, mostly produced by the BBC. His creative pouch is filled with several radio, stage and screen credits, including Chinwe Egwuagu Ayaka, starring Pete Edochie, and a soon to be released movie, MEN TALLY.
He has also signed several productions, including Yaws N Myn, Apere and Yaw’s PO and Shalanga, as producer. Amidst felicitations from his fans, friends and fellow entertainers, the few lines Yaw found time to mutter were words of gratitude to God for his journey here.
“I can only but be grateful to God for the journey here, for preserving my life and that of my family and for the grace to do all that I do today. “Sometimes we may ask God for success and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. “I am grateful to Him and Him alone for the gift of grace,” he penned.
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