In 2011, in Bayelsa, Jim Iyke and Nse Ikpe Etim went on stage as the hosts of the prestigious Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). That was some once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Mr. James Ikechukwu, who prefers to be called Jim Iyke.
On the days that followed the awards night, headlines screamed and bloggers attacked him and not even the organizers of the AMAAs.
“JIM IYKE FLOPS AS HOST OF AMAA, COVERS UP WITH GAY BASHING AND DEFENDING COLLEAGUES” – www.ameyawdebrah.com
Ghanaian journalist, Ameyaw Debrah wrote: “When Jim Iyke, co-host of the 2011 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), commented that ‘actors need to stick to their day jobs, including me,’ it was in reference to his attempt at doing music. But his presenting skills at the award ceremony held in Bayelsa last Sunday showed the world another career that the Nollywood actor isn’t quite cut out for. From the moment Jim and his co-host, Nse Ikpe-Etim were introduced on stage, Jim appeared confused and clueless on what to say. It was very obvious that he kept on forgetting some stuff that he was scripted to say and sometimes the prompting from his co-host couldn’t even help. To turn things around the actor turned on his usual ‘loose cannon’ personality to some painful consequences. Jim’s hosting was a bit unrefined and each time he appeared on stage, the audience could expect some bad jokes, sexual innuendos, or an attack on the Nigerian press. The only thing he got right throughout the show was his choice of clothing. Change after change, he stepped out in outfits that brought out his ‘swag’ and complimented the beauty and grace of his co-host, Nse. According to inside sources, desperate attempts were made by the producers of the ceremony to control some of Jim Iyke’s utterances on stage, including his comment about not understanding gay people. He asked why men now wear tight jeans and hold purses. He explained that he didn’t understand why some people have to be gay and concluded that for him, he thinks something is ‘wrong’ somewhere. His co-host, Nse tried to control the situation by asking him to leave that subjected matter alone and cleverly suggested that Jim meant something else when she concluded that episode by saying, ‘there is nothing wrong with being happy.’. However, the strongheaded Jim commented that he would revisit the subject later in the night, but he never did.”
During an interview with journalists at the InterContinental Hotel in Nairobi recently, Jim Iyke ‘dismissed the Africa Movie Academy Awards organization.’ He was quoted as saying that the ‘organisers needed to re-strategise for the awards to regain their glamourous status.’ If there was any glamorous status lost, it was in Bayelsa, that moment Jim Iyke went on stage to lambast gay people, to abuse Majid Michel, to speak ill of journalists, to make sexist comments. It happened in Bayelsa, after he must have begged the organizers to grant him that opportunity to show his stupidity to the world.
It is unfortunate that I was the one that helped Jim Iyke with his luggage at the Jomo Kenyatta airport when AMAA flew him to Nairobi for the Nomination Night and he sat just by my leg on the bus that took us from the airport to Safari Park, dozing off, hitting his head against the body of the bus and waking up again, sleeping again and waking up again. I am sure I know how Jim Iyke was specially treated by the organizers. Then, in 2012, he was not allowed to showcase his madness at the AMAAs, which Jimmy Jean-Louis (and what is it with AMAA people and people with such names?) and OC Ukeje did an amazing job. So, dearest Jim became angry and decided to bite the finger that fed him very well.
Back to Bayelsa, on the night of the AMAAs, Jim Iyke was very drunk. This the organizers of the AMAAs didn’t know. He looked beery-eyed, stoned and completely lost in another world. He was held by a filmmaker I know who took him into the hall, trying to make sure he knew what he was doing. For many reasons, the organizers of the AMAAs should not be following Mr. Iyke around, while he smoked his pot. This is not one of the jobs of the organizers. It is the job of his manager. For getting drunk and high, Mr. Iyke failed himself at the AMAAs. Nse took all the glory and that made all the difference. Fastforward to the Nomination Night in Nairobi, Mr. Iyke smoked pot again and could not live up to my expectations as a celebrity. Does he smoke pot all the time? If so, he should calm down, because it doesn’t work for him. Reason is that his outburst recently on the AMAAs is uncalled for as he said: “I have been to different awards and I cannot even put the AMAAs in the same category. The management needs to know that times are changing and soon some of their strategies will be obsolete.”
Of course, they know, which is why they no longer use hosts who get drunk before going on stage, which is why the jury of AMAA hasn’t found his acting skill powerfully engaging enough to nominate him. If Mr. Iyke wants to get angry with any organization, AMAA should be the last. If he is desperate for headlines, there are other ways to go about this, just like his Twitter rants with the women he has been juggling with.
It is a pity that a young man with lesser talent like Jim Iyke can speak ill of a system that has tried its possible best to give him life and hope. It is heartbreaking that such a stereotypical actor who is very good at using belt to chase people in his films could make such an outrageous statement. It is a pity that such an actor, with a hoarse voice, who has tried almost everything humanly possible to survive in life could be a blemish shit in the sewage. It is a pity that we still don’t know his real name.
Onyeka Nwelue writes from Paris. He is an intern at Beyond Borders: Diversity in Cannes.