By Jude Katende
IF you are a fan of Nigerian films, popularly known here as Binigeria, then I am certain you must have seen the two funny midgets in Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme.
The two were in Kampala over the weekend for a series of shows. During a press conference in Kampala, they said their trip included donating items to charity. Seeing them is not enough but being their fan almost comes instantly when you watch them going through their pranks.
When asked about their age, each of them replies, â€œI am above 18 and a graduate.â€
Chinedu Ikedieze was born on December 12, 1977 in Bende, Nigeria and was nicknamed Aki. His friend, Clestus Osita Iheme (aka Paw Paw) says he is in his 20s.
Some people think the two are twins or at least brothers but according to onlinenigeria.com, their 2002 chance meeting at an audition is what made them what they are today.
Aki says: â€œWe had been hearing about each other and were looking forward to meeting. Iheme stays in Aba, while I reside in Owerri.â€
The little but mature comedians formed the centre of attraction during the audition. Shortly afterwards, a producer invented a script featuring the two with the title, Aki na Ukwa (Two Mischievous Kinds). The movie expectedly launched the two into the entertainment world.
After meeting at the audition, their relationship began to grow naturally. Because of this bonding, producers like the duoâ€™s acting prowess.
Aki points out: â€œWe understand each other on stage. The level of understanding we exhibit whenever they see us on set amazes most producers.â€ Hence they prefer to star the duo together.
The duo has been to Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, London and US. They have met various queens and leaders in government including former British Prime Minister, Tony Blairâ€™s wife, Cherie.
Thanking God for their talent, Aki says he can buy virtually all he needs. â€œI can buy any car I want. If I need a house that can make me more comfortable, I can get it.â€
Paw Paw drives a Toyota Camry just like Aki who also owns a Mercedes Jeep and a Land Cruiser.
Although he can drive, Aki prefers to be driven. He says he does not want to embarrass himself! Like other stars, the duo has bodyguards and tight security at their residence.
He comes from a family of five; four boys and a girl. He is a graduate of Mass Communication from Enugu State University. He also did a course in Film Academy in US.
Paw Paw says he is not embarrassed when he is referred to as small boy. â€œI would say we all have unique features. I believe I am different and peculiar, I believe God made me different so that I would stand out from the crowd.â€
Paw Paw has over 80 movies to his credit. He says he can play any role save for a womanâ€™s.
A millionaire and graduate of Mass Communication from the Institute of Management and Technology in Enugu, Aki says in spite of his small stature, he remains in hot demand by the opposite sex. www.odili.net states that on average Aki receives 300 calls daily and most of them are from girls. Some say they love him but he tells them everybody loves him.
Aki says he has so many girlfriends, just like he has boyfriends. He says he would like to marry a good-looking and well mannered Igbo girl.
â€œMy ideal girl must also be intelligent. I am not particularly bothered about complexion or size, though the size must not be extra large.â€
Due to the duoâ€™s popularity, demand for them is high. They rarely relax and are always moving from one casting crew to another. But that demand can also be negative.
There was a time they were arrested by police at 1.00 am and detained for a night over contractual obligations. They say some producers hated the fact that they would be away in Ghana for a few days and make more money than they (producers) had paid them as deposit for projects they would handle later.
The duo cites this as a ploy to mudsling them and rip them off because they had to pay compensation fees in the end.
They decry marketers in Nigeria who despise them.
â€œIn South Africa and Europe, we are superstars. Outside Nigeria, some ladies flung their breasts and beg us to autograph them! If we are paid about $8,000 here for a movie, it is really nothing.
What we receive in Nigeria as actors is among the poorest in the world, although we are not complaining. When we go for shows outside Nigeria, we are paid between $20,000 and $30,000 for only a few minutes on stage or for a product endorsement.
The duo says sometimes when they are acting, they have to stoop so low to act like seven-year-olds. â€œYou know that is not so easy. Most of our roles are tasking,â€ explains Aki.
odili.net cites that when the duo travels abroad, they spend over $2,000 on clothes because their country lacks their ideal sizes. Aki is as stubborn in reality as he appears on screen. There are some questions he would rather not answer.
For instance, asking him when exactly he discovered he had the acting talent, he says though readers are itching to know, it is not necessary!
Besides working on their website and the floating of their charity foundation, the two say arrangements have reached advanced stage for them to act in a Hollywood.
If we can get into Hollywood, we hope to influence Hollywood producers to come and invest in Nollywood. â€œWe need to learn from Hollywood.â€