Sometime ago, the rumour that Bolanle Okhiria, winner of the debut edition of Koko Mansion, was dating the Koko Master, D’banj, filtered out. Nonye Ben-Nwankwo went on the trail of the ‘number one kokolet in Nigeria’ who seemed to have gone out of public glare after the show and got her to talk about her life
What have you been doing since you left Koko Mansion?
I have been pursuing my career as a presenter and a writer. I set up my own blog. I have also hosted a couple of shows. Right now, I am working on a radio show and a new TV show.
One would have expected you to be in the limelight, how come you are still in the background?
I wouldn’t say I have been laid back. I still attend events, though I am not the kind of person that would want to attend all events. I wouldn’t push it. Basically, I would say I have been taking it one step at a time.
Would you say Koko Mansion has opened doors for you?
In a couple of ways, it has. After the show, people called me up for photo sessions. I now do stuff for people. People know me more now than they did before Koko Mansion.
Why did you choose to participate in Koko Mansion?
It was kind of different from other reality shows. The show brought together women. I wanted to show the world who an ideal Nigerian lady is. I went in and I applied to be on the show. I was lucky, I won. The show is not like the regular TV shows we see.
So now you are a member of the Mo’hit family?
Automatically, I am now a member of the family. I never knew them personally before Koko Mansion. I was seeing them on TV like every other person. I love them all as entertainers.
Did you really get the prizes meant for the winner?
I did. I got my car. I was given N5m.
What did you do with the cash?
I invested my money. My family comes first in whatever I do. I also helped them to invest with some of the money. The money is still in the family. When I got out, I threw a party for my friends.
What gave you an edge over the other contestants?
I didn’t see anybody as a rival. I was just myself. As to what gave me an edge, I am not only beautiful, I am also intelligent. I am a smart woman and I will be proud to say it anywhere. I think that was what made me scale through.
Tell us about the late Chidinma, your fellow housemate in Koko Mansion…
We were kind of close. In the house, you wouldn’t get along with everybody. There were ten of us. She was part of the finalists. At some point, we got along very well. It is really sad that she died. I feel that Nigeria has lost a star. She was a bundle of talents. She was a young Nigerian who had many dreams to fulfil. She is not forgotten. I will always remember her. I had a party last year and she was the only one that showed up among the other housemates. The others couldn’t make it.
We learnt that the winner of the Koko Mansion was going to be D’banj’s girlfriend for a year?
That was true. It wasn’t as if we were supposed to be his girlfriend per se. I was meant to attend events with him. I travelled to South Africa with him when he was shooting his video. I went to a couple of places with him after the show.
As his girlfriend?
No. As the winner of Koko Mansion, as the number one Kokolet in Nigeria.
But would going out with D’banj be a bad idea?
No! D’banj is a very intelligent young Nigerian. It will not be a bad idea going out with him.
But has he asked you out?
He has not asked me out. I have not gone out with him and we have not dated.
Did you feel bad when people tagged you D’banj’s girlfriend?
I didn’t feel bad at all. Though in actual fact, I know I am not his girlfriend. People kept saying it, but I didn’t feel bad at all. I actually felt privileged being known as number one Kokolet. D’banj is not a bad person. He is the only artiste in Nigeria I know that is so industrious. I am happy to be attached to the Mo’hit family. I will never feel bad when referred to as D’banj’s girlfriend.
Will you accept if D’banj eventually asks you out?
Why not leave it till he asks me out. I will decide what to say when he asks me out.
Who are you close to in the Mo’hit family?
I am close to everybody. I love Dr. Sid, he is my good friend, I love K Switch, I love Prince and I love Wande Coal. I have mad love for Don Jazzy.
How have you been able to handle scandals since you hit the limelight?
I thank God I have stayed out of scandals. I will only have to thank God for that. Nothing bad has been written about me. I have faced many challenges. Even growing up as a girl has its own challenges. But I have been able to scale through.
Tell us about your boyfriend
I am not dating anybody seriously. I am still single. I am 22 years old. I think I still have time.
So, how do you cope with admirers?
I have so many admirers. I have so many of them on Twitter, Facebook and everywhere. I just get along with them. I have friends and acquaintances. Somehow, I have been able to cope with my admirers.
How was growing up?
It was fun. It had its own challenges. I am the second child in a family of five. I have three other sisters and one brother. I grew up in a Christian family. We are from Edo State. My mother is Yoruba. My parents are supportive of my career. I love my mother so much. I will do anything for her. She supported my going into the house. She was actually the one that helped me to tell my dad because I didn’t know how I was going to tell him. I would even say my story of winning Koko Mansion is the case of the ‘last shall be the first.’ After the audition, I knew I did well. I thought I was going to be picked to go into the house. I learnt they had started calling some people but nobody called me. I lost hope. But a day before we entered the house, they called me. I eventually found out that one of the girls, after the medical tests that we did, was pregnant. I had to replace her. See, I wasn’t even picked in the first place. If the girl hadn’t been pregnant, I wouldn’t have been a part of Koko Mansion. So, I walked into the house and I was determined to show the world that I am good. I aimed at doing my best. I gave it my best shot. I eventually became the winner.
Do you have a dream?
I am doing advertising now. At some point in my life, I hope to be a brand manager. I want to set up my own advertising firm. I want to be a presenter and take the job to another level. I hope to settle down some day and have some kids.