‘His name is Richmond Purcell Coker, better known on stage as Richie Obama, the epitome of Sierra Leone comedy, a jester extraordinaire; a master of humour and satire, an intelligent stand-up comedian.’
This is how he can be best described.
Born in the east of Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone on February 14, 1995, Richmond Purcell Coker is from a nuclear family of four siblings. He was raised up in Kuntorloh, a hilly suburb in the east of the city, where he attended the Seventh Day Adventist Primary School since 2000.
After taking the National Primary School Examination (NPSE), he was admitted at the Methodist Boys’ High School in Kissy, where he sat to the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in 2007, and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in 2012. He immediately obtained several certificates from higher institutions, including a Diploma in Computer Engineering at the African Information Technology Holdings; a Certificate in Graphics Design at BankTec College; and an online International Diploma in Computer Packaging at Amity University, based in India.
In 2013/2014 academic year, Coker was admitted at Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone, to read for a BSc in Social Work. He is now in his third year.
Richie Obama has an innate talent of a comedian. This was noticed by his colleagues since he was young. He always has the power to change a sad situation into a laughing environment.
In 2012, he started doing comic relief for his church, but never willing to accept the name of a comedian, and was rather presented on stage as Brother Richie. He started performing satiric scenes since his high school days and for his church till 2014.
At Fourah Bay College, he was well known for cracking jokes for his friends on campus whenever they have free time. His friends (especially Harold) later prevailed on him to become a comedian. He kept rejecting suggestions of becoming a comedian, noting that it is a career that’s unproductive and not worth adopting in Sierra Leone.
He kept doing it for fun until one fateful day in mid 2014 when a friend invited him to perform at his wedding reception, where he was introduced to one of Sierra Leone’s most outstanding stand-up comedians, Desmond Benya. His performance thrilled the audience and received appreciation from everyone. Desmond Benya later took him to perform at a bigger platform, at the Bintumani Hotel in the presence of other comedians and a huge audience. His overwhelming performance and the applause from the audience finally gave Richie Obama the courage to accept comedy as his career.
Months later, he anchored a show for Desmond Benya, which he later stole from his hands with a superb performance. The audience were thrilled in ecstatic laughter. His career as a comedian grow rapidly. He got invited and hired to perform at various events.
Richie did an event for Lake, where he premiered a movie for them with the support of Mr. Murtala Mohamed Kamara, who further encouraged him to continue with his career as a comedian.He later performed at a show organised by his fellow comedian, Kindo Armani and subsequently at another one hosted by Comedian Yemata.
He also performed at the All CEOs and Leadership Awards held at Bintumani Hotel in 2016.Richie’s performances have always been outstanding, which made many people perceive him as a foreign comedian. His was one with class and professionalism. He’s always seen in his suit, which usually made people to mistake him for something else other than a comedian. This is because stand-up comedy is a new phenomenon in Sierra Leone. What they have been used to was that of an acting comedy, where the comedians normally paint themselves like a clown or present themselves like caricatures.Richie Obama was coming from a different angle.
Richie Obama got called up to perform for His Excellency, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at the Independence Anniversary held in Port Loko Town in April 2016. After an impressive performance, he was contacted to perform later at a wedding reception of the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure, Hon. Kemoh Sesay.
In August 2016, Richie Obama performed at the National Students’ Excellence and Leadership Awards at the Miatta Conference Hall, organised by the National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS). And that was one of his most successful shows. His performance at the NUSS awards reached platinum and he gained huge recognition from across the public as a professional comedian. Soon after that performance, he was hired to perform at the wedding reception of Mr. Olu Herbert Jones, where he lasted on stage for close to four hours. That has been classed as his best performance so far. Nobody wanted him to come down the stage.
In an interview with SaloneJamboree.com in February 2017, Richie disclosed that his comedy career has already yielded him some dividends. He is now able to pay his university fees and take care of other expenses, he said, adding that he was already comfortable with his career as a comedian and envisaged growth and more opportunities. ‘I want to become the best comedian in Africa’, he said.
Richie says despite the numerous challenges faced by comedians in Sierra Leone, he is optimistic that they would overcome them.