Richard Coker-Enahoro: “Life, death & the legacy of a filmmaker with sickle cell anaemia”


Richard Coker-Enahoro was born in Lagos to media royalty and legendary TV personalities Miss Julie Coker and Michael Enahoro, on 17th May 1972, who at the time were lauded as Nigeria’s married response to Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton.

 Miss Julie Coker’s Album Cover 1977

Miss Julie Coker wins a Lifetime Journalism Award 2014 

Both loving parents were unaware that they were carriers of the Sickle Cell Disease trait; so sadly Richard was born with the inherited condition of the red blood cells. The most severe form of this disorder is known as Sickle Cell Anaemia. Other disorders include Cooley’s anaemia, haemoglobin SC and haemoglobin SD disease.  Normal red blood cells are round like doughnuts, and they move through small blood tubes in the body to deliver oxygen. Sickle red blood cells become hard, sticky and sickle or crescent shaped. When these hard and pointed red cells go through the small blood tube, they clog blood flow and break apart. This can cause pain, tissue damage and a low blood count, or anaemia. Sickle cell disease is not contagious.

He was endearingly known to his friends and family alike as,“Richard the Lionheart” for his vision, tenacity, inner strength and loving heart. With his parents’ work mainly based in Nigeria: and due to his delicate disposition and constant need to go to hospitals to oxidise his blood, at 7 years young Richard moved to the UK to live with his dear Uncle and Aunty Dr Ben & Mrs Ibiene Epega and family where he attended the private preparatory Holmewood House School in Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.

Richard & Foundation Chairman Baba Epega at Cannes Film Festival 1996 

His parents’ talents in Media & TV was also in his every fibre of his being. In England his love for the Arts was nurtured and flourished especially in the subjects of English language, English literature, theatrical plays, cinematography and music. At the age of 14 he made his 1st Music Video and won the Artist of the Year Prize at his secondary school Mayfield College, Mayfield, East Sussex, England.

                                 Mayfield College, East Sussex (Defunct)

Frequent returns to his parents in Nigeria further fuelled his love of the Arts. His excursions home did have an advantage, as a sickle cell disorder sufferer; he couldn’t contract malaria. Although an avid fan of sports and live entertainment Richard was forced to spend most of his early life in sick bays and the University College Hospital, London hospital wards due to his illness. Turning adversity to advantage he seized this opportunity and started writing scripts for short films and producing music videos for up and coming artists of all genres.

Seeing Richard had a talent for producing beauty through photography, cinematography and the written word; a lecturer from the National Film & Television School gave him a unique opportunity to attain a scholarship and study there for 3 years. Upon graduating he was snatched up by a prominent media company called Media Circus where he worked as a director and producer of short films & music videos.

The Richard Coker Foundation make a donation to St Peter’s Faji Church, Lagos Island May 2014

His work took him numerous times to international film festivals including Cannes where he rubbed shoulders & conversed with the glitterati and talented including Sigourney Weaver, Dennis Hopper, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas & the Cohen Brothers.

The Richard Coker Foundation make donation to the Kinabuti Iniatiative (Project Makoko) May 2014 

On the cusp of international acclaim Richard’s illness slowly began to take full control of his life when in his late twenty’s he contracted leukaemia as an offshoot of his inherent Sickle Cell Disease. Leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called “blasts“. Leukaemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases. In turn, it is part of the even broader group of diseases affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid system, which are all known as hematological neoplasms.

Although a treatable disease trough chemotherapymedical radiation therapyhormone treatments, or bone marrow transplant; although he fought it for over 2 years, Richard’s body relented to the attached on 29th May 2004,  2 weeks after his birthday in London.

The Richard Coker Foundation gives Alms to the Poor May 2014 


Aunty Julie Coker hands out Alms to the poor 

RCF Eye Clinic Patients , Lagos Island, May 2014 

RCF with Eye Clinic Doctor & Sister 

RCF hand over cheque to Kinabuti Initiative in the Guardian Newspaper 

RCF & Kinabuti Fashion Initiate donate in Makoko Village 


                            RCF make their way to Makoko Floating School 

Kinabuti Fashion Initiative on the way to Makoko Floating School 

    RCF & Kinabuti on canoe to Makoko Village’s Floating School 

RCF Aunty Julie surveys the floating village on the way to the school   

His legacy lives on through the Richard Coker Foundation   which is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to raise funds with specific regard to helping the underprivileged & aiding in the eradication of the Sickle Cell Anaemia Disease.  The foundation was established in late 2004 by his mother Miss Julie Coker, cousins Yewande, Baba-Jallah and Jay Jay Epega, brother Meschack Enahoro and many dear friends.

This story is about a lion in our midst whose life, although short, was not in vain as it has helped bring happiness to many and prolonged life to more than a few.

RCF donates to Genotype Foundation