Saturday, 30 August 2014

Why I took a traditional title @ 49---City People Magazine Publisher, Dr. Seye Kehinde • Asabeafrika unveils dad’s picture & most prized gift SK got from late dad • Says “Dad caned me up to university”

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HRM Oba Sunday Ekundayo with his new subject, Chief Seye Kehinde
 The Prologue
Today in the history of the soft-sell journalism industry in Nigeria, CITY PEOPLE as a brand is a household name.  The magazine which currently circulates the highest numbers of copies across the nation on a weekly basis is adjudged to be Nigeria’s highest circulating soft-sell magazine with print run running into maximum of eighteen thousand copies weekly. CITY PEOPLE also has four other bye-products on its stable namely;
City People Quarterly, City People Fashion and Style Digest, Today’s Fashion and a specific periodic magazine, City People Extra all under the umbrella of City People Media Group. The man behind the conglomerate of high society journals is Dr. Seye Kehinde, a very shy but energetic young man who has sunk a whole 18 years into the development of media business in Nigeria. Born on April 24th 1965, Seye Kehinde is the third and last child of his parent’s three kids (2boys and a girl); he had his educational influence at  various institutions like Mayhill Convent School, Ibadan-Oyo state; Remo Secondary School, Sagamu in Ogun state and Ogun state Polytechnic in Abeokuta. He later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from the famous Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife in Osun state. At many other times, the publisher of Nigeria’s Most Circulated Celebrity magazine had professional courses at both the national and international school levels. One of such is a Post Graduate Diploma from the Daily Times institute of Journalism in Lagos and a Certificate in Political Reporting and International Journalism from the famous Center for Foreign Journalism, USA.  A winner of the Sunny Odogwu Prize for Business Reporter of the Year (1994), Seye Kehinde who is also a honorary doctorate degree holder from a Republic of Ireland based University has come a long way in the profession of journalism. Unknown to friends and foes; politics beckoned on him during the regime of former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as SK as fondly called by friends and associates was to be named a minister under the regime, a gesture he humbly declined preferring to face his real call as a journalist.
Three weeks ago, precisely Saturday 2nd of August 2014, the sleepy town of Iroko Ekiti in Ekiti state-South West Nigeria witnessed the influx of dignitaries from all walks of life who had come around to celebrate with the celebrated publisher as he was honored with the traditional title of the Aare Onigege-Ara of Iroko Ekiti by His Royal Majesty, Oba Sunday Ekundayo the Oluroye of Iroko Ekiti land.  
Dr. SK being congratulated by the Oluroye after his conferment as the Aare Onigege-Ara
The traditional ruler who equally bestowed other eminent Nigerians with several traditional titles in honor of his 10th year coronation on his father’s throne said the decision to honor the City People publisher was something beyond the fact that SK is a friend of his community “We in Iroko Ekiti believe that  Dr. Seye Kehinde is one of the few Nigerians who have changed the face of the media business in Nigeria and for his love for culture, people and humanity we  deem it fit to honor him with the title of the Aare Onigege Ara of Iroko Ekiti” confirmed the monarch in a speech granted at the venue.
The event which was a bit auspicious was the first one the City People publisher would be taking a traditional title publicly. Few days later, your number 1 Celebrity encounter blog asabeafrika paid him a special visit inside his Gbagada, Lagos South West Nigeria  CITY PEOPLE MEDIA PLAZA office where he told us for the firsts time reasons behind his decision to take a traditional title at age 49. The publisher who will now be addressed as “Chief (Dr.) Seye Kehinde” also told us the unpublished story of how he once turned down a ministerial appointment offer from former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s government. In his office, you will equally find a very old and out of fashion type-writer kept at a vantage corner of the office, the publisher told us the secret behind the antique object. Here we bring you some of the issues the publisher shared with us inside his Lagos office. Enjoy the excerpts.   
Chief Seye Kehinde with his paraphenelia of office
Why I took the title
Many had always seen the publisher as one person who is power-shy and equally loves to keep to himself a lot with no iota of love for such razzmatazz? Asabeafrika asked him why he decided to take a new stance this time around “Well I have so many Kabiyesis (Kings) as friends and this will be my third title. In Joga Orile (Ogun state) I have a title there as Otunba where Bob Dee (Ovation Magazine Publisher, Chief Dele Momodu) is also a title holder (Onigege-Ara of Joga land). I am actually an Otunba to (TV Host) Bisi Olatilo’s title in Joga-Orile. Then Oba Abdul-Fatai Akamo, the Onitori of Itori land in Abeokuta also gave me a title. I am also a chief in Itori land, so I have a few of them but for me, I just think if they choose to honor you, there is nothing wrong in accepting. Like you said, I am not the kind of person that carries it about or talks about it. I just take it as fine, if it comes then it has come. We just collect it and let it be there. There is nothing bad in taking a king’s honor”.
 “Initially there was a fear but now I don’t think there is any fear anymore. I guess it is something we have to live with. It is like somebody the doctor pronounced to be suffering from an ailment, it is just something you have to live with; there is nothing you can do about it. It started off as a fear but it is no longer a fear it is much of a reality.”
The Oluroye of Iroko Ekiti Oba Sunday Ekundayo
My title honorary not occult
The perception among local people in Nigeria is that anyone that takes such a title must belong to a secret cult or some arcane assemblage; is Dr. Seye Kehinde in that stead? Hear his defense “Maybe you are talking of the traditional ones. Maybe; this one is an honorary title. So, there is nothing as such that warrant one to be doing anything like that. You just go in there and you will bedecorated and you leave. But I think you actually mean the real traditional indigenous one; this one is basically for celebrities and friends of the Kabiyesi but not the real traditional indigenous titles”.
Dr Seye Kehinde with First Lady of Lagos state, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola
Dr. Seye Kehinde being decorated as the New Aare Onigege-Ara of Iroko Ekiti
Life @ 49 & Benefits
Last April 24th the publisher clocked 49, so what has life taught him at 49 and how is he preparing for 50? “It is just for you to keep at what you are doing, try and make your mark and coast along as life comes. 50 years is a major landmark but I have not really given it a taught on what to do and what not to do. But I guess I will mark it, I will mark it. And for me, it is really a time for reflection”. This blog went forward to ask Dr. Kehinde how life has fared with him at 49. “Oh, very fair, more than fair”  The publisher answered with lots of enthusiasm on his face and continued  “Very, very fair; very, very fair in the sense that I told God what I wanted to do in life and He granted it. Right from when I was in school I knew I was going to be a journalist. I told God how I want it and it was given to me. Even the City People idea was something that I came up with when I was in school; I mean the template of what it will look like I did when I was in my part 3. So, when you have that kind of dream and the dream comes to materialize I don’t think there is another thing that I need to ask God to do for me than for Him to give me long life and prosperity”.
The antique type-writer Dr. Seye Kehinde got from Dad, Pa Gilly Ademolu Kehinde
My Leadership beliefs
 In the industry, Seye Kehinde is adjudged to be the fairer leader among his peers in terms of tangible leadership development. It is on record that he is the only publisher in that genre of journalism that has single handedly produced 15 younger entrepreneurs who are today successful in their endeavors; we asked him how he handles such leadership flights from his organization? “From books” the publisher snapped his response and continued “I read all sorts of books. I like management books, I like motivational books. So, I read them from books, I read up biographies of people. I learn from them. I have many role models, so many people’s books I have read. So many people I have interacted with and I look at templates elsewhere and try to see what I can pick from there and lessons I can learn from there and I learn it. I learn everyday because that is the real essence of life”.
The G DA with Dr. Seye Kehinde
SK....Here comes the new Aare Onigege Ara of Iroko Ekiti
Precious inheritance from Dad
 Inside his Gbagada, Lagos office, there is an old fashioned type-writer that occupies a vantage position in the office but no journalist had ever cared to ask the publisher where he got the antique-like object until asabeafrika asked him and he was magnanimous enough to tell us the story behind the antique type-writer “That is the last type-writer that my dad used” SK as fondly addressed began like a lecturer trying to convince his student on a point  “His own area of specialization was confidential secretary. He was a confidential secretary and he was actually training confidential secretaries in the old western states. That was the last type-writer he used and of course it is no longer in use and of course we are now in an age of computer and I just felt let me keep it and show younger people who actually missed that type-writer generation”. Why is SK not submitting it to a museum as a mark of honor to the memory of his late dad?  “Well, since it is also related to what I do, I also look at it from the point of view that I can also use it to decorate my office because it is actually in line with the same media thing that I am doing. I just felt it makes a lot of sense for me to keep it here and each time I look at it, it is also very symbolic for me and the fact that I see it as my dad’s inspiration. I just felt it is good I keep it in my office. It is like a heritage”.
Dr. Seye Kehinde taking his royal blessings from HRM Sunday Ekundayo
The GDA with the antique type-writer Dr. Seye Kehinde inherited from Dad
My Dad by me
We asked the famous publisher to the personality of his late father and he did with an uncommon passion “My father Gilbert Ademolu Kehinde was a very hard working and much focused man; in his own way he brought us up well.  He had three of us (Two boys and a girl) I am the last child. He was a disciplinarian like most men of his generation. He won’t take nonsense from you, he start up as a confidential secretary and of course he became the man who trained all the confidential secretaries in the old western states at that time, he was the head of the training school for Civil Servants and the entire civil service of the old western region. So, a lot of civil servants know him and of course he guided his name jealously and today of course we are beneficiaries of the legacies he left behind”.
SK's late Dad, Pa Gilbert (Pa Gilly) Ademolu Kehinde
Chief Seye Kehinde
Why I am famous among my siblings
We wanted to know what his other siblings do and why they are not as rich as the publisher but Mr.  SK quickly corrected the notion that he is the richest among his siblings; hear him “They are all successful in their own right. My elder brother is an engineer it is just because my father brought all of us up to be quite. We are very laid back, very quite doing our thing. It is just because of what I do that I get reported all the time and if I have the option I will still keep the low profile because that is the way we were brought up and that explains why people say I am humble and I keep to my self a lot. I like to just sit down in my office and do my work I don’t believe in the razzmatazz that comes with the job. So, I have to balance my real self with the kind of life I have to live as somebody who produces City People. My sister is a civil servant. She just retired from the civil service”
The New Aare Onigege-Ara of Iroko Ekiti with Celebrity friends
Dad caned me up to University
We asked if SK’s dad liberally or sparingly uses the rod on his children and the answer came almost swiftly “Of course it was beating all the way, he would beat us. He kept on beating me until I left the university. I mean like I told you earlier he is a disciplinarian and he doesn’t spare the rod and he always drum it into our ears that we should read our books, that we should be hardworking and the only gift he could give us is education. So, one learnt a lot of things from him, that you don’t need to give a child material things and all that. Once you send the child to a very good school and you educate the child, the child will sought self out. That is one lesson I learnt from my dad who is now late”.
Dr Seye Kehinde with a City People Executive, Mr. Timothy Owomola
Mum too was tough
SK spoke about his mum as well, “My mum too was a civil servant but she is retired now. She is in Ibadan, she is in her 80s and she is just living her life quietly. Of course they were both hard. I mean I thank them for that because they both complimented each other and it wasn’t the case with some children, if Daddy is tough, Mummy is soft. In our own case, they were both tough but they were tough for a reason and in later years I realized that it was a nice thing that they were actually tough on us because one was able to benefit the gains of that toughness. When we now grew up and decided to sort ourselves out it was easy for us to leave a disciplined life”.
Chief Seye Kehinde with Ibadan top Fashion Icon, Alhaji Bashy Kuti
How City People is beating the internet journalism bane
 One question that the City People magazine publisher must have planned to answer with lots of enthusiasm was the one relating to the survival strategy of traditional print media practitioners in the face of a blighting internet media spree, does the publisher nurse the fear that the e-journalism era has come to swallow up the traditional media industry in Nigeria? His answer strikes confidence “Initially there was a fear but now I don’t think there is any fear anymore. I guess it is something we have to live with. It is like somebody the doctor pronounced to be suffering from an ailment, it is just something you have to live with; there is nothing you can do about it. It started off as a fear but it is no longer a fear it is much of a reality. So what we are trying to do is just to balance it out; maintain the online presence and at the same time dig deep and come up with stories that you won’t get online in the flagship of the group which is City People Weekly
Chief Seye Kehinde with another guests
What publishing City People means to me
Asabeafrika asked Dr. Seye Kehinde to define what it means to be the publisher of Nigeria’s number one soft sell magazine brand and he say “A lot of hard work, a lot of hard work and a lot of stress”. He continues “It is not easy. A lot of entrepreneurs when you put in place a business you have to keep to it and of course if you also want to keep faith with your readers because publishing a magazine or newspaper is a kind of  a very emotional thing because a lot of people are looking up to you. A lot of readers are glued to you, I mean I go to some places and some people come to you and tell you they have not miss a copy since you started publishing and some will tell you that even if they miss at all, maybe two or three editions. It simply means some people are taking you seriously and that means you have to take your self seriously. And of course, each time you look at it from the point of view of ‘oh, maybe I should relax, maybe I should rest, you now realize again that the whole world is waiting for you to continue to come out and keep the tradition going. So, that really is what gives one the kick and the fact that you must come out weather you like it or not”.
Chief (Dr.) Seye Kehinde
Why I don’t like travelling
When we put the allegation to the publisher suggesting that he doesn’t like travelling because of his work load as the publisher of Nigeria’s highest circulating Magazine, he quickly refuted the notion like this  “I travel, I travel. I travelled recently for about five days or so. I find time to travel, It is all about planning. It is like you are doing two, three things at the same time you have to plan it. I travel to America everywhere, Dubai etc. there was a time I spent a week in Dubai. This last trip I made to the Gambia I spent about four days or five days, so I travel. It is just that I am somebody who doesn’t like travelling and I don’t believe in frivolous things. If I have to travel I have to ask myself ‘what am I going there to do there?, so if it is not for a seminar or not for work related I can’t take off from office and go and sit down and be looking at the sky for no reason when I know that I have serious work to do here”.
The Publisher with some member of staff of City People
(Watch out for Part 2 of SK’s exclusive “How I turned down OBJ’s appointment” on this blog next tomorrow)

Gbenga Dan Asabe

Africa's Number One Celebrity Encounter Blog


  1. Chief Dr. Seye Kehinde is a brazen epitome of hard work and humility. He deserves the title because indeed, he is the unbeatable Aare Onigege-Ara of the Universe.

    1. SK is not just a journalist's delight on the job, he is equally a pioneer on his own right. He started the best and biggest Nigerian Society Magazine. I think he is the Aare Onigege Ara of the Nigerian Celebrity Magazine industry.