By Florence Amagiya
Reputable on- air personality, Steve Onu, aka Yaw, doesn’t need any introduction especially to lovers of WAZOBIA FM (95.1). The Theatre Arts graduate of the Lagos State University has warmed his way into the hearts of many listeners both in Lagos and the neighbouring states due to his style of speaking pidgin english and personality.
Yaw is known for his popular programme,“Make una Wake, the morning show which is aired from 6am to 12 noon. Yaw, who has bagged many personalities awards and nominated for several others, is rising daily in his game as he has a hand full of activities. He got launched into limelight with the then popular series known as “Flat Mates.’ His story is that of one who has experienced the lowest part of life and been picked up by sheer grace, determination and hard work.
Today, Yaw could say that he is blessed as he is dinning with the mighty and the rich in the society. In this edition, I present to you a young man who once sold ‘ice water’ on Lagos roads, but whose determination and hardwork has taken him to where he is today. Yaw is a producer. He comperes events, a comedian, as well as an on-air personality.
“I am from Awka in Anambra state, but I was born in Lagos state on August 24, almost 40 years ago, at the Island Maternity Hospital. I had my early life in Lawanson in Surulere Local Government Area. I attended Osimoye Primary School also in Surulere. I left Osimoye and finished from Obele Primary School in Sululere. My Secondary School was at St. Ann Secondary School also in Surulere.
I am from a family of 10 children, but I lost one of my sisters to the cold hand of death. By the way, I am the seventh child. As a child, we stayed at 65 Mamba Street Lawanson. As a young boy, I remember helping my mother to sell “ice water” and cold minerals at Yaba market after school. I can remember an episode, one day due to tiredness I took a nap while selling at the market.
l woke up to realise that all my wares were gone. But l didn’t have any money to show that I sold those items. That day, my mother gave me the beating of my life! When my family moved residence from Surulere to Iyana-Paja, I had to stop selling “ice water” after school because of the distance, but I still sold during the holidays. I stopped selling when l was of age and eventually graduated from secondary school in 1993”.
Yaw got admission into the Lagos state University (LASU) for a diploma program in 1995, and then got another admission to study Theatre Arts in the same university. In-between struggling to pay his tuition fee, getting a role in the movies and staying with friends wasn’t any mean feat. After graduation, he didn’t stop acting and performing stage dramas as he has been doing several professional stage events at the MUSON Centre, Lagos.
He got involved in the series “Twilight Zone and Flatmates. He was also involved in some others like the Dear Mother and Fuji House of Commotion series. According to the celebrity On air personality, stardom wasn’t an overnight thing, he has been there waiting for his time to shine.
While doing all these, he was called for a job interview for on-air personality position and later started working at the pidgin English radio station known as Wazobia FM. Since then he has bagged two awards including, City People Awards and Mode Man for Best on-air personality.
According to Yaw, his mother had always reminded him that without the people around you, you are nobody. If tomorrow comes and every person stops listening to Wazobia FM, then Yaw is nobody. That has brought about humility which is part of his nature and which has arguably made him to dine with kings and queens in the society. “I had no choice, but to imbibe humility from babyhood. As a person, it is part of my personality because I was raised that way.”
Yearly widow’s mite
Yaw grew up knowing what it meant to be hungry but could not get food to eat at the time he needed it because of lack. He grew up knowing that except he has sold enough, he might not eat. He knows what it is like to be the down and the trodden in the society and he is doing what he can to put smiles on faces of the disabled, less privilege and the aged in the society via his yearly charity project. Life around him has taught him to cling to his dream and that has been his daily push.
He has remained a determined young man with a strong survival instinct. Last year, he stood up and sold his car to partner with OLX to donate gift items to three different foundations, the School for the blind, Down syndrome foundation and the aged.
Yaw has received several awards and still counting. He won the Best on-Air Personality for Mode Men Awards and City People Awards among others. He has also won award organized by Opa Williams for Best TV Actor (Comic).
Yaw is inspired by the likes of Basket Mouth, Ali Baba and so many others. People call him a funny person, “but that’s because everything around us is funny. Life would be so dull if nothing is funny”. From where he is coming from to where he is today is indeed an amazing journey and “who could have thought that an “ice water” seller on Lagos traffic could get here today!”