One may be tempted to feel sorry for them. Others have called them midgets; another would have shied away from being identified with them. Many wondered: would they ever have a ‘normal’ life? Well I can tell you that the answer to the last question is a resounding ‘No!’ No, they will not have a normal life because they are living extraordinary lives! They have shattered any iron, glass or wooden ceiling relegating them to the dregs of humanity because of their physical stature. They are Aki [Palm kernel nut] and Pawpaw; and they are in your face!!!
Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme [Aki and Pawpaw] are Nigerian Actors of immense proportions although they are of diminutive stature. They stormed the Nigerian Movie Industry popularly known as Nollywood in 2003 in the starring role of Aki and Pawpaw; hence the nicknames they have since been stuck with. A chance meeting during an audition in Enugu in 2002 brought these two stars together, and they have been almost inseparable henceforth.
Chinedu Ikedieze [Aki], a graduate of Mass Communication from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) was born 12 December 1977. He hails from Iluoma Nzeakoli in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria. He was a member of the Art and Dramatic Society in Secondary School, and thus developed an interest in becoming an actor in Nollywood. In 1998, he got his first role in the movie “Evil Men”. He had a major break in the year 2000 in the movie “The Last Burial” but it was the movie “Aki na Ukwa” that thrust him to the limelight. He has since featured in over 40 movies including Spanner, Okwu na uka, Aka Gum, The Catechist, Show Bobo: The American Boys, School Dropouts, Pipiro, Onunaeyi: Seeds of Bondage, Lagos Boys, Family Crisis, Charge & Bail, Back from America, Akpu-Nku, 2 Rats, Spanner Goes to Jail, Not by Height amongst a host of others.
Osita Iheme [Pawpaw] was born in 1982 in Imo State, Nigeria. He is a graduate of Mass Communication from the Enugu State University. Iheme rose to fame when he starred together with Chinedu Ikedieze in the comedy film Aki na Ukwa in which he played the role of ‘Pawpaw’. In this role, Iheme played a mischievous child. He has played the role of a child in many of his films but progressed up to more mature roles. He has evolved in his career from just a comedic actor to a multifaceted established actor. Iheme has featured in over 50 movies including Mirror Boy (2010), Stubborn Flies (2007), Boys from Holland (2006), Brain Box (2006), Criminal Law (2006), Jadon (2006), Last Challenge (2006), Remote Control (2006), Royal Messengers (2006), Winning Your Love (2006), Young Masters (2006), Colours of Emotion (2005), Final World Cup (2005), Holy Diamond (2005)I Think Twice (2005), My Business (2005), Reggae Boys (2005), Secret Adventure (2005), Spoiler (2005), Village Boys (2005), American Husband (2004), Big Daddies (2004), Columbia Connection (2004), Daddy Must Obey (2004), the list goes on.
To think that their journey to the top was a bed of roses is of course laughable. From meagre fees to stereotyped characters, they have run through the gamut and emerged on top. Chinedu Ikedieze in an interview with Nigeria Films, stated, “You have to be the best of what you are; what makes a man is self-control. A man must be dedicated to whatever he is doing; you must be ready to tolerate a lot of things because without all these, you are heading to nowhere. I remember those days, even as a student there were many times I had to sneak out from lectures to go and attend auditions – although I know exactly how to catch up with whatever I missed while away. Most often, when I was on campus, I usually buried my head in the library and also read ahead of my mates, knowing that there may be times that I would not have the time to come for my lectures. Despite all these sacrifices on my part, there were still many times that I will go out for auditions and come back empty handed. But despite the above, I did not give up, I persisted, I insisted on being part of Nollywood, I insisted on living above the frustrations. So I kept going from one audition to the other.”
In 2007 Ikedieze and Iheme received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the African Movie Academy Awards [AMAA] in honour of the diversity and uniqueness they have brought into the African Film industry. Ikedieze was also conferred with a National Honour in 2010: he was awarded a Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Such a recognition and confirmation of purpose for him!
They have also gone ahead to float their own movie production company, called Aki and Pawpaw Entertainment Nigeria, [APEN]. I think the name is hilarious! It was gathered that the duo decided to go on their own in order to maximise profit and position them to help others who may want to go into acting without facing the challenges of going through cut-throat movie producers like they did.
On a personal note, Ikedieze got married in December 2011 and the union has since been blessed with a daughter.
Persist brother; persist sister. Live above the frustrations and do not give up! Men’s gifts are still bringing them before Kings, and like the title of one of their movies goes, “it is not by height!”