If not for the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world, renowned journalist who also doubles as the Ekefa-Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oloye Lekan Alabi would have been the chairman of the 80th birthday reception of TV doyen, Julie Coker slated for Lagos last Saturday, 25 July, 2020 before it was postponed.
Oloye Alabi was the chairman of the veteran broadcaster’s 70th birthday reception in London, United Kingdom (UK) 10 years ago.
Although, JC as she is fondly called, celebrated the milestone in the UK where she is based, the Ekefa-Olubadan will however not allowed the day go uncelebrated in Nigeria, as he organized a special dinner in her honour to celebrate the woman who holds the chieftaincy titles of the Yeye-Olofin of Ile-Ife, the Source); and Iya Eto of Lagos. Julie Coker started a new life as an octogenarian last Saturday at Omo Ajorosun Club, Agodi, Ibadan.
She broke into public limelight as Western Nigeria’s Miss Independence in 1960, and was for long, one of the beautiful faces and rich voices at Africa’s first television station, the now-defunct Western Nigeria Television SERVICE (WNTV), Ibadan which was established in 1959.
From 1959, when the first T.V. station in Africa took to the airwaves, Nigeria has come a long way in music, arts, entertainment and broadcasting. From a very young age, Chief (Ms) Julie Coker was right in the middle of it all. Ms Julie Coker was the first female newscaster in sub-Saharan Africa, at an age when this field was dominated by men.
A friend of the late Afro Beat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Ms Coker did three albums with E.M.I (Nigeria). A compilation of seven of her songs was released in 2017. Her 2nd Album was produced in Abbey Road Studios, London and Made Famous By The Beatles.
She has two sons, Michael and Richard but lost Richard Coker-Enahoro in 2004 to Sickle Cell Anaemia.
An avid lover of children, in particular children beset with health and social challenges, Chief Julie Coker is the CEO of Richard Coker Foundation, a UK-based charity organisation focussed on sickle cell awareness.
She was recently appointed the President and CEO of San Diego Tourism Authority, USA