|Kenny St. Best, Musician/Politician/Preacher & Author|
In this Second Part of our exclusive encounter with Kenny St. Best—KSB (Formerly Kenny St. Brown) she revealed to Asabeafrika for the very first time in history, reasons she lost her 2015 ambition for Lagos State House of Assembly under Ikeja Constituency 1.
In 2015, KSB contested for a seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly (Ikeja Constituency 1) but couldn’t make victory as party leadership prevailed on her to give in at the last minute. Since then, she has contributed vigorously to the development of the ruling All Progressive Party in Lagos State and at the federal level through campaign for women emancipation and the need to give women more and better roles in political leadership.
She spoke to your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika inside her Opebi GRA, Ikeja—Lagos home on Friday 10th of March and gave us the full story. Enjoy!
|The GDA meets the KSB|
Let’s go to your political experience of 2015, you contested for the Lagos State House of Assembly and you campaigned vigorously. You were on Facebook, twitter, radio, TV and all platforms. You worked so hard but lost at the end, how did that experience make you feel?
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'My 2015 election opened a new path of experience for me'|
Not only didn’t I win, I actually stepped down. I stepped down.
|KSB to Asabeafrika...'I was shocked when i was asked to step down but i quickly summoned courage and continued with my loyalty to the party'|
Why did you step down?
(Laughs) You know there is ways things are being run around in the party whereby it looks like ‘okay, you just came. You are a new comer; there are people on the queue’. Do you understand? There is a structure in Lagos State, I don’t know if the structuring is correct or if it is right. But somehow, we followed and we were like ‘okay, turn-by-turn, it is not yet your turn. Just make sure you work with the team or with the family’. All is for the good of all. Of course I worked with Jimi Lai Mohammed (Son of the minister of Information, Lai Mohammed that she was asked to step down for) throughout till the end of his campaign. And I also worked with the state and federal government. So in essence, I am saying that there was no bad blood. I quickly absorbed it ‘ok, this is the way it is’ considering that I was coming from the arts and entertainment industry.
|KSB to Asabeafrika...'Yes, i felt disappointed when i lost my election'|
But were you disappointed that your efforts were broken by such party rules?
Yes, I was…I was, I was disappointed a bit but I quickly shake it off and said ‘what is the next step?’, the next step is that we should all work together for our campaign to ensure that our party wins. And all of the energy that I kept for myself, I threw it back into the party to ensuring that our party fly at state and federal level.
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'The Politicians were afraid to trust the artistes'|
It was not only you that was asked to step down, we noticed same trend with D-One (Otunba Dayo Adeneye) in Odogbolu, 9ice (Agbolade Abolore Akande) in Ogbomosho and it was only Desmond Elliot that made his own in Surulere. Do you think the politicians were not just ready for the influx of entertainers into politics?
|KSB to Asabeafrika...'Game of Politics is game of loyalty'|
I wouldn’t say YES and I wouldn’t say NO because it wasn’t like Desmond had it on a platter of gold. There were a lot of leg walks and a lot of consultations. You know what? Let me tell you the game of politics. The game of politics is the game of loyalty. And we were bunch of entertainers who were very independent minded. In our industry we don’t really know much about loyalty, what we know is the royalty not loyalty (Laughs heartily). We know royalty, we are not loyal. Forget it.
|KSB to Asabeafrika...'In entertainment we care for the royalty. But in politics, it is about loyalty'|
(Cuts in) Yeah, if Kennis Music is not paying enough dough you can quickly cross over to Chocolate City, isn’t so?
(Still laughing) Yes, you just jump to Chocolate City, even when your contract expires, they will not even write that the contract has actually expired. They will just write ‘How KSB dumped Mo hits’ (laughter) so how will politicians just give power to us like that when we are naturally not loyal? For us, it is about royalty. Anyhow you do it, just let it (money) keep coming. So, now we are learning the game. I am enjoying it, I am telling you, because I just returned from Alausa this afternoon and anything they do I am there just to ensure that I don’t become a politician doing the business of election alone. I want to grow to become a seasoned politician and know how this game is being run. And I can tell you this for free, there are godfathers; and what made these godfathers what they are? It is loyalty. Godfathers will hand over the baton to somebody who has been on the queue who has been loyal.
|KSB to Asabeafrika...'In Politics, everything revolves around your godfather'|
And if that person is old, they give it to his son or daughter. He brings somebody. So, it is the way of our politics here and I don’t think that is how it is over there (abroad). But in Nigeria politics o, that is the way. But unfortunately for me, I wasn’t only just a rookie; my own family largely belonged to the opposition. They are for PDP, if you noticed, the Dokpesis and the Ogungbes are for PDP. My cousin was a commissioner in Ogun State at sometime (Under Governor Gbenga Daniel) and Chief (Raymond) Dokpesi at the federal. So, my loyalty had to be tested. Nobody is testing but it is in the effort that I put in ensuring that I stand for the party and stick to the party, representing the party, and stand with the party, not only stand for. And also stand in the party. So all of that is the work I am doing right now, even if there are opportunities coming from somewhere and they need people or they need women to be there, I will quickly call the women in my constituency and engage them for the slot because by doing that, I am equally building a loyalty base for myself.
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'In Politics, the more you are visible the more you are relevant'|
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'I have written three intentional papers on Trade, Commerce and Tourism for Lagos State government'|
You are indeed an arts person; from arts you are now in politics. We are in a very bad recession season in the country right now. As an arts entrepreneur, how do you think the arts can raise our people away from poverty?
It is the next goal, the next goldmine for people who will wake up to what they call a hobby. You hear ‘my hobby is this, my hobby is that’ or I just like drawing, it is the time you can convert hobbies into money spinning industries. But for me, what I discovered because I was drafting some proposals to the ministry of arts, culture and tourism of Lagos State and the thing kept revolving. I have written about three books. One is called Arts-TRADE, Art-COMMERCE and Arts-TOURISM. While the others are Culture-Trade, Culture-Commerce and Culture-tourism and when you now add tourism itself and the commerce of tourism; all of these things are a reproduction of the people of the state. Let’s start from this top I am putting on, it was designed by someone. Nigerian girls are fantastic designers, they make amazing clothes, and they make the best of red carpet dresses. So that is their arts, let’s get a tailor to sow and you see them in legion. Or you talk about nails, the industry is growing fast. These were jobs we were looking down on at a time. But today, they are the people that are making money.
|KSB to Asabeafrika...'With the recession, we are now in a season when hobbies are turned to lucrative pastimes'|
The crafts we used to look down upon then, that ‘oh, I cannot do this job’ they are the jobs fetching us money now. I am not even going into music-entertainment. I am strictly looking at arts. Because of this recession, I think it is high time we move from core performing arts into visual arts. Performing arts yes, presenters, comedians, and musicians, actors while visual arts involve drawing, sculpture, poetry and drama. There is mega millions of naira in that industry, how do I know there is mega million? The money the telecommunication companies are making right now, they make more money from music, from caller tunes, ring back tunes than calls. When they came to Nigeria, they only signed for calls, they signed for calls not to make money on Nigerian music. That is why COSON is now fighting them that they must pay royalty to the artistes. But let us go into visual artistry now. It is an artiste that designs this flower (Pointed to an artificial flower on her table). We have the natural sun flower but someone decided to make an artificial sun flower and I went to the market and bought it. That is for artificial. Now, let’s talk about flower arrangement which is horticulture. We just see this people by the road side plant flowers.
But now, some people are importing flowers for weddings in Nigeria while some people’s
job is how to arrange those flowers; the art of the arrangement of the flower.
So, you ask, with the amount of flowers that grow in Nigeria, cant we make the
flowers commercially viable instead of importing flowers? Is that not craziness
that we are still importing flowers? Now, let’s go into carpentry. You will say ‘ah, that guy? Na my carpenter’
but now you have just been sacked from your bank job, and you cannot go into
woodwork. Don’t call it carpentry, you call it woodwork. You can design furniture
and get a nice photographer and let them take a nice picture of your woodwork
and promote it for sale rather than we going to Italy to import. I am talking of young people now because some old
ones are already in the trade for so long. But I think it is madness to assume
that you will buy $1 for N500 because you want to go and bring
some furniture. I think that is a big madness.
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'We can create a very huge industry from just flower making'|
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'Tara Durotoye opened a brand new industry with her make-up artistry'|
Now for the girls, let us move to make up artistry, thank God for the likes of Tara Durotoye, she saw the future when Mary Kay was all over the place. It was even the husband, Fela Durotoye that said ‘one day, Nigerian women will carry make-ups in their hands and it will be produced by my wife, Tara’. And that dream became a reality. Now, we are using more of Nigerian make-ups than foreign ones. Thank God, girls are coming out of universities now and they are learning how to tie gele, gele artistry and make up. So, what about fascinators? People are not wearing hats now, we are wearing fascinations. It is an art. I can turn this flower (Pointed to the artificial flower on her table) to a fascination. All I need to do is get a yellow or black net and get something to hook it and I stick it unto my head and the net covers my face and it becomes the fascination. These are the things Nigerians should go into. There are so many interesting hobbies like poultry, beads making etc. I visited a bead making blind home in November (2016) where all they work with are beads. They make bead chairs, bead flower band etc; what about Adire? This is the time for us; we can create a big industry out of our Adire because that is one we are known for because Ankara has been taken from us. We cannot claim that we are the ones designing Ankara, it is not true. But Adire is still our own in Abeokuta there. There are some skills acquisition companies training people on how to make Adire. That is it on arts.
Now let’s go
to culture. Food is part of culture, the food, the language, the style and
dressing. Let me talk about food, language and dressing. When it comes to food,
we Nigerians still go to Chinese
restaurant. Have you gone to China
and you find a Nigerian restaurant in
China? Instead they will call it African Restaurant. But all over the
world, out of 5 black people you see on the street, you must have a Nigerian there. Yet, we have not created
international business out of our cookery. And for our culture, it is high time
we go back to Agriculture, it is time
we start exporting gari. The other
day, somebody was talking about Indian
Gari. That is quite ridiculous. But we have better Gari brands in Nigeria
from Ibos and Ijebus and other areas. Why can’t we let the world know about our Ponmo. That we have something they call Ponmo in Africa. Now, let’s talk about our language, education too is part
of our culture where international students can come into Nigeria and study Yoruba or study our drums, talking
drums. What about the culture of dance? We are doing Merenge, we are doing Salsa
when we have more than enough of our own traditional dances (Atilogwu, Gelede,
Eyo etc)? That is quite bad. We are using our own money to go and learn how to
dance Salsa? Ki lo kan mi pelu Salsa?
In America, Beyonce was dancing our Nigerian dance in her video. God bless Kaffy and the few of them doing traditional
dance right now, the way our boys are exporting comedy, the way our boys are
exporting music, it is high time we export our food culture, dance and fashion
culture to the world. We have culture-entertainment, culture-commerce. It is
only music and Nollywood we have exported well, where we used movies to turn
our moonlight stories into a film making industry. I mean we want to sell our
own stories; it is our culture we are selling to the world. We have
culture-tourism, the sites; the places to go are just too many. If you are a
resident in Ekiti, we have those waterfalls
and you are a graduate from Ekiti, isn’t
there a way you can harness the opportunity by getting the people of your state
to turn that place to a tourist center? It is quite unfortunate that in my
place, we don’t really have a tourist center. Yes, we have a University in Ago-Iwoye but there is no tourist site.
So, these are the things our youths are not seeing.
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'Why should Nigerians allow Indians to import Garri here when we actually have the best Garri brands in the world?'|
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'We can make real money from all our tourist attraction spots across Nigeria'|
But majority of today’s youth will rather take to lotto and other malaise than raise a team for creative adventure. Don’t you think government has a role to play?
|KSA to Asabeafrika....'Youths must be innovative'|
They are lazy; you can’t blame that on government, leave story. They are barren. We have talked about dreams, maybe they have the dream but somehow because of disappointment, they are blaming it on the government. You cannot lay the failure of your dream at the door step of the government, new age has come and you are still sitting looking for government to come and help you. You know there have been long narratives about new age, new age. This is actually the new age that we are birthing, you are birthing the new age. That is why I said dream is about the future. In fact, a dream is an immunized future, which means that, your pregnancy must have the immunity that will make the pregnancy not to be terminated but delivered. That is what a dream is. So, if you allow your own pregnancy of what you will become in the future to be terminated, then, you are done for.
You can’t throw the blame at the door of government, it is your
dream. You can’t blame me because if I am in government and you blame me, I
will tell you ‘you are barren’. You
can’t blame me for your barrenness. I
mean girls are on the street in the night, I look at them, and they are so
pretty. At the worst, you can be an usher every Saturday not trade your body
for sex. You can be a model; you can be anything but prostitution. You can
start something. God did not create anybody barren. I am personally writing proposals
Ambode, because this is the state I am earning my living that ‘sir, we can do this with the youths. We
have done it in the entertainment industry and it is thriving, it is time we
move into the arts commerce’. Let our youths see the beauty and potentials
that are in the art-commerce, just like Tara turned the eyes of these young
girls to see the business they can make from make-up artistry. Truth is we can
convert our youths to become very productive.
|KSB to Asabeafrika....'No Youth should throw the blame of his or her ideas bareness at the door of the politician'|
|The GDA & the KSB|