Why many journalists are afraid to sack their bosses — Kemi Ashefon | Speak on Tiwa Savage’s divorce mess & The Rise of her blog

The GDA in the heat of the interview session with Madam Kemi Ashefon

In this final part of Asabeafrika’s encounter with Life Style
Journalist Kemi Ashefon who was
recently pushed out of PUNCH Newspaper where she spent 16 years as a writer and
editor simply because she started a blog, the veteran journalist and mother of
one shared some insightful tips on how today’s journalist and media
practitioner can escape the sledge hammer of looming job loss hanging over the
media industry due to the advent of social media and low reading culture of the
traditional newspaper. Kemi, whose
blog Kemiashefonloehaven.blogspot.com
is netting more visits since inception spoke on  Hip-Hop star musician Tiwa Savege’s broken marriage with hobby Teel-Bliz among many other issues she shared with your Africa’s
number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika.
Enjoy the excerpts.

Kemi Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’Every hardworking journalist is a potential blogger’

Do you think every reasonable
journalist both employed and unemployed should have a blog due to the level of
global deregulation of the internet space?

I think they
should have a blog no matter their level of engagement. If you are reporting
health, it is not all your material that will interest your employer. I was
features editor for over a year, it is not everything that you give me I will
use. I will definitely hedge it. So, it is not everything that you get that
will be used. There are some vital stories at times, to you, which might not be
vital to the paper but they will be vital to you and who you are writing about.
So, why not put them on your blog? Mr.
Lekan Otufodunrin
will always say “Get
your blog, put your stories on it; write your feelings on your blog. That is
why it is a blog”
and I look at people in the news room who are far, far
better off than so many bloggers out there and those bloggers are making money.
With all respect to Linda, Linda is making money, every click
is money and you will be shocked, you get to the news room and
they will open Linda, I will just
laugh. They open Linda’s blog and they will be reading, they will go to Laila’s
, they will read and these people are making money, and you are
better off, you write better. You are more intelligent. You can conduct
interviews, high profile interviews, transcribe and you put in print. Journalism
is history hurriedly written, you have hurriedly written history and you are
publishing it, so, why not have a blog? Even if it is a photo blog, you will be
shocked, Nigerians love photographs. If you are a photographer, what stops you
from having your blog? Put it, don’t write anything, just be putting it, you
will be shocked the way people will storm your blog. They will open and read. They
will just be looking at the photographs; you will be shocked by the hits. I
appreciate a lot of photographs because I was style editor for four years, I
know what it means to have photograph. I think I learnt appreciating
photographs from Mr. Seye Kehinde (Publisher,
City People Magazine) he would pack a lot of photograph and will just be going
through. From photographs he get stories, he doesn’t have to go out, he will
just look at photographs and he will say ‘this
is a
story’ and he will write.
So, I don’t know why journalists are afraid of making use of their innate
talents? Every journalist is a blogger. In fact, my cousin will say ‘I hate that word blogger, every journalist
is far better than a blogger’.

Kemi Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’I think Tiwa Savage got it wrong by spilling the beans on her husband’

“If you are putting something in
somebody’s paper or magazine, what stops you from putting it on your blog? If
you have the gut to walk up to a celebrity and interview him or her for your
magazine, what stops you from doing same for your blog?”

So, why not go blogging? If you are writing
history and you are publishing it, you are on a crime desk, you got to the
police station, you got the pictures and stories of people who killed so, so
and so person and you are putting it in a newspaper, so, what stops you from
putting the remnant on your blog? So, I don’t know why we journalists just want
to be in our comfort zone and just collect salaries at the end of the month and
you are there, you are caged, you can’t explore, and people are doing marvelous
things ahead of you. Can you imagine, at events, they will be asking for bloggers?
Organizers would ask you ‘where are the
major newspapers
here?’ and after
selecting the best 5, they will say ‘who
are the bloggers, where
are the
That means bloggers too have their own space; at assignment oo,
so why cant a journalist have a blog? But you know, it is not that we are lazy,
I refuse to use that word, we are just captured by the fear of the unknown,
that ‘if I start, what would happen?’ Right now I don’t have advert on my blog
but the response is wonderful.

Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’If you can run around and get a story to put
on another persons’s magazine or newspaper, what stops you from putting
such on your blog’

Maybe journalists are
I wont use
that word either, they are just afraid. If you are putting something in
somebody’s paper or magazine, what stops you from putting it on your blog? If
you have the gut to walk up to a celebrity and interview him or her for your
magazine, what stops you from doing same for your blog? I walked up to Chief Subomi Balogun’s handlers that I want to interview this man for Sunday
, they obliged me, I did it; if I could do it for SUNDAY PUNCH what stops me from putting
it on my blog? Going back to him now to say ‘Sir,
I have a website now, I
want to
interview you’
of course they will oblige me. He will understand the fact
that ‘ok, you have interviewed me for
Sunday punch so, you want to put me on your blog, so be it’
. If you can
walk up to (Tony) Elumelu and you say ‘Sir,
so-so- is happening in the business world’
and you put it in a news paper,
what stops you from going back to him and say ‘Sir, I have a website, I want to
interview you on the economy of Nigeria’, there is no big deal but I pray God
will open our eyes and everybody will just run into God’s purpose for his or
her life. It is crazy working and not getting adequate reward.
What online media will do to offline-media
in 5 years time.
Do you see a world where e-journalism
will take the better part of the media business at the detriment of the traditional
Not really,
because traditional journalism will still be there. I think what will be
challenged will be the print run. If you are printing ten thousand copies, in
the next two years you might not have that. Because news has broken and
everybody is reading about Tiwa (Savage) on Friday night, we
are watching the video, we have heard everything and you are now printing on
Saturday morning, I can’t read it because I have read everything online and you
are even giving me the story from same source. Of course, it doesn’t stop
people from advertising, some companies will still go for newspaper, they will
still go for prints but in the next 5 years, the print run might be challenged,
that is just it. But we will still have newspapers, even abroad, we still have
newspapers but the power of newsprint will go down. Already, some are even
reducing. So many publishing houses are just retrenching, there is looming
retrenchment everywhere. Every reasonable journalist has to embrace

Kemi Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’In 5 years time, the traditional media will face challenge of print run’

The General Diya Story that gave me a
Tell me the best story you ever
published that gave you lots of excitement as a journalist?
Ah, I have
written so many stories in almost twenty years. Maybe at Weekend Concord,
you know then I was young and I was enthusiastic about every thing and I had
bosses who were interested in my progress. I think it is a story I wrote when Brigadier
General Oladipo Diya
was released from Potiskum Prisons in Jos.
I was sent by Mr. Mike Awoyinfa and
late Mr. Dimgba Igwe, that ‘you have to go to that place, capture
everything, if that man enters that house and you don’t write it, you are in
trouble o’
. And the late Mr. Dimgba
has a way of threatening his reporters. He will say it softly ‘If you don’t bring it Kemi, you know there
will be trouble’.
So, I woke up early in the morning, I was at Diya’s house
at GRA
, I was there through out the day until the evening, I was almost
going when they now announced that they have brought the man, that they have brought
him from Potiskum. Now, seeing him in that manner, I was a cob reporter
and I have never seeing a man like that before and I was like ‘So, this is a General, the former Vice
, I saw everybody, I saw so many big people coming to that house
to greet him, I didn’t leave there until few minutes to midnight (12am) because
so many big people were coming to greet him. So many Generals, so many VIPS. In
fact his compound was a beehive of activities that day. So, it was quite
touching and when I got home I didn’t sleep I was telling my parent about the
many people that came to Diya’s house. Then I was barely 30.
I think I was really twenty four at
the time because I graduated at twenty-two and I worked for two years at Concord.
I think that was one of the high moments. Then on interviews, going to parties;
I attended so many parties. One party I attended that I will never forget is
the 50th birthday of late Professor
Dora Akunyili
when she had her birthday at EKO Hotel; I have never
seen a place so jam-packed. So many people, so many dignitaries; so many gifts;
in fact that woman has always been an enigma. In fact that day, they were even leaving
so many gifts on the floor because there were so many people bringing in so
many things. That event was quite surprising. I have attended so many parties
in my life, I have interviewed so many VIPS and today, the number is endless.

“Yes, there are love blogs but I just
want to stand out with interviews and articles on relationships. I have been
busy for some time and I will start getting some interviews, talking to couples
on how to have a lasting marriage; it has not been easy but with time I think I
will improve on it because I have not done anything”

The MKO’s wife’s Story that gave me a
  What about the story that nearly put you in
trouble as a journalist?
I think I
had an interview with someone and at the last minute she now called that she
didn’t want it, it was one Mrs. Abiola.
She was one of the wives of the late MKO
I had done the interview with her in Abuja. I had sent the
story to my editor in Lagos only for her to call that ‘Please o, I don’t want to talk again, no,
please, don’t let it come out’
I said ‘Ma,
but I have sent it to Lagos’
and she said ‘No, I don’t want it published because I am going to sue PUNCH, I will
sue you if you publish the story’.
And I had to call the editor. Then, it
was Mr. Dele Adeosun; he is now The Nation on Saturday Editor.  So, I told him ‘this is what happened’ and he said ‘ok, we will just drop it’. It was painful because before I could
get the woman, I was going sick. I had several challenges until she now said ‘Ok, let us have it’, and after having it, she now asked me to drop it. She
spoke about her marriage to MKO Abiola,
how she met and fell in love with him. I think she was the one who married the
late Oba

Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’In journalism when you help people build
their brand there will be no problem but the moment you want to build
yours, there will be problem’

Ok, she was that woman MKO allegedly
took away from a king while the king was sending his wife to him?
Yes, in
fact, she was so open. She narrated the entire story to me. Very beautiful
woman; and she now said ‘no, don’t,
please don’t run it again’.
It was so painful because the story was going
to be a B-A-N-G!  She spoke about her
marriage to MKO, the criticism that trailed her decision to marry him, her
children and many more.
Which year was that?
That is
2007. I should have kept the story but she was just threatening and when a
woman threatens like that, you have to keep your head low.
Maybe she was afraid of her antecedent
because she was allegedly snatched from her husband by MKO?
She spoke
about that, she spoke about what happened; in fact it was quite an interesting
interview but she now changed her mind that she does not want it printed again.
People don’t know the import of what they say, in her own case, maybe she made
some consultation and she was asked to drop the idea. It is fun being a
journalist and I am still a journalist.

Kemi Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’People in the newsroom who write better than bloggers lack vision to stand on their own’

Yes, a journalist-blogger (Laughter)
what is the secret of your beauty?
Am I
Of course, you are with your low cut…
I decided to
have a low cut because I have problems with my hair.  From time I have never had hair, and my
friends will always make fun of me and I was very weak, putting on weave-on and
at the end of the day, everything will be lousy. So, I just decided two years
ago, to just start cutting my ear and funny enough, it was even my boss, Toyosi, Ogunseye that said “Ha, Aunty Kemi, Irun yi de fit yin o”
(Aunty Kemi, this hair style fits you) and that was how I just started wearing
the low cut. Since then, I think I am comfortable with it.
Why I dyed my air…
You dyed your hair?
Yes I dyed
So, what is the meaning of that?
I just want
to look different abi? (Laughter)
What does style mean to you as a
style writer?
I think
style is comfort. To me, you have to be comfortable. It is good to follow
trend, it is good to be trendy but you have to be comfortable. If you are not
comfortable in what you are wearing, it is not stylish. You have to be
comfortable even if you are not wearing the trend, there is a way you do your
thing and you will look very elegant. In the little years I spent as a style
writer and a style editor, I have observed that Nigerian women are very, very
fashionable. They want the best of everything. They want the best of shoes, the
best of bags, worldwide. In fact, the way they buy, the purchasing power of the
average Nigerian woman when it comes to fashion is alarming. So, style is
comfort, really.
What dress we won’t catch Kemi
Ashefon wearing on a normal day?
Maybe I will
not wear a sequined dress during the day. Then bum shots, I don’t see myself as
having hot legs. So, I can’t wear bum shots. So, what again, I can’t wear see-through
fabric clothes, I can’t wear see-through dresses because I will be 44 in
October and I shouldn’t be seen wearing some things.

Kemi Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’The story i wrote on the return of General Diya from Potiskum was my high moment in journalism’

Why I blamed Tiwa Savage on my blog….
On your blog you said Tiwa Savage’s
decision to go public with her marital crisis was totally out of it, why did
you say that?
Yes from my
point of view, she was wrong because I am also out of a marriage, I was married
for 8 years and I left. Although, it was easy for me to leave because there was
no issue, we didn’t have any child. And I decided not to talk about it; so many
things trailed the fall out of that marriage but I just refused to say anything
to anybody at any point in time.
Were you ever beaten up or cheated
No, I
wouldn’t want to talk about it. Thank God he is happily married I am not but I
am just there, I am happy the way I am. I have a son. But when we now start
saying things; when you say A, people will add B and they will get Z. by the
time you say something, even before you leave that spot, a lot of people would
have added and subtracted and multiplied and at the end of the day, you will be
embarrassed. So, why say it? if your close friends are okay with the decision
you have taken, so why should you go on social media, on instagram, facebook
saying ‘Hen, hen, I am leaving this man,
he drinks, he smokes, he is into cocaine bla-bla-bla’
, because the fact
still remains that you have a child for him and all these thing can be
documented. Imagine a child growing up? You will be shocked that six years old
knows how to access the internet. My son plays with my phone and just imagine Jam-Jam
at 10, reading all these? So, it is not the best. I think because of their
child she should have maintained a quite stance. I was watching the video and I
was like ‘Why Tiwa?’ I love TIWA
to bits; she is a great fantastic artiste.

Ashefon to Asabeafrika….’My lowest moment in journalism was when one
Mrs. Abiola asked me to drop an interview i earlier had with her’

Analysts feel that Tiwa Savage was
pushed to doom by friends? Do you think her friends love her? And in marriage,
do we need friends?
You need
friends because you are human and you can’t be with your husband 24 hours but
your friends should not control your marriage. I can’t authenticate the fact
behind her friends pushing her to do it but if her friends told her to do so,
that is too bad, too bad, too bad. Too bad because she said so much, like Fidelis Ducker said, you could have said ‘Oh, we want our privacy’. Even Nike Oshinowo and Dr.
they said ‘This is a trying
period in our lives, we appreciate our privacy, we will get back to the presses

and till date they have not said anything. We just know they are separated.  Even if they are divorced, we have not seen
the divorce papers but Nike saved
her neck. She really saved her neck by not saying what went wrong. Even Toke Makinwa, Toke didn’t say anything despite all what everybody said. I am just
bothered about the impact of what you say, see the way people are now analyzing
the marriage; even people with failed marriages would now analyze the marriage
as if they are marriage experts. And that is what comes out as Dabota Lawson said on her instagram
page, that what happens when you say everything on social media? Your
fans will be eating Pop Corn and you will be like hanging yourself. They will be
eating the Pop Corn and watching on TV, watching video but you will just
feel like ‘let me go and die’. In
fact, Dabota Lawson’s description of what happens to Tiwa and Tee-Bliz is the
best. Why say it? Do you have to say it on social media? Those people are fans;
they are not your family. So, why should you say it? Even abroad, people get
divorced and say they want it private because of our kids, so, why is our own
different? And Tiwa is a brand, I love her; she has over the years built a
brand, I just pray this does not destroy her value because this is a society
that makes so much millions on family values and people will start saying
things; even the greatest of fans are like ‘why did she say this? Of course
some people supported her but the large percentage is like ‘why did she say

Kemi Ashefon to GDA ‘I am a blogger with a niche’

Why Celebrity Marriages break up…
As a journalist who has reported
stars in the last 18 years, what do you think is the problem with celebrity
Because it
is not easy to cope with success, to handle success; so, when you are married
to a celebrity, the woman that you married when you had nothing, suddenly
turned a star over night, everybody wants her, everybody wants to talk to her,
everybody wants to be her friend, everybody wants to have pictures with her,
wants her autograph, suddenly she becomes a star and you are like ‘don’t tell me this was the girl I married
or the girl I met some years ago’
. Then, if you are not careful, to handle
that stardom or the razzmatazz that goes with stardom would be difficult
because you can’t come back home and be cooking like any other woman.  You are not the girl next door again. You are
not the normal mum that goes to school to pick up her child. So, everything
about you changes as you progress in that career. So, it now takes a very wise
woman or man to know how to manage stardom. It is not easy because watching
your wife play or dance is not easy. I think women can handle it when their
husbands are stars. But the problem lies more with men, to handle a successful
woman that is out there. It is another thing if I am successful and nobody
knows, I am just enjoying my money. But not the one that is on every pages of
newspaper, on every pages of magazine, you just switch on your TV and you are
finding your wife dancing in a video and she is making all the bucks and you
are not making up to that; men want to spend money, even if they don’t have
their own money. Really, I think both of them are at fault.
What do we expect from your blog as
times go on?
Kemiashefomlovehaven.blogspot.com is just a haven for love. It is just
like a love net, everything like love, just come in there and have it. Yes,
there are love blogs but I just want to stand out with interviews and articles
on relationships. I have been busy for some time and I will start getting some
interviews, talking to couples on how to have a lasting marriage; it has not
been easy but with time I think I will improve on it because I have not done
anything. I have not even done what my dream is with a blog. But now that I
have all the time to myself, I think I will do all that I want to do.

“Then, know that if you are not working
for yourself, it is not yours and one day, that job will be taken from you,
because in journalism, employers are like someone sucking oranges, they will
suck you and when you are dried, they will throw you out”.

What journalists must do in times
like this…
If you are put in a conference room
and you are to give advice to a group of 1500 young journalists on how to go
about success, what is going to be your advice?
Have a
passion for what you do; develop it. Then, have people you look up to who
writes well, that you know ‘this one
writs well and I want to write like him or her’
. Then, know that if you are
not working for yourself, it is not yours and one day, that job will be taken
from you, because in journalism, employers are like someone sucking oranges,
they will suck you and when you are dried, they will throw you out. And no matter
how good you are, some people will be better than you one day. And they will
prefer the ones that are better than you, journalism is about business,
newspapering is about business, they want someone that will make their product
sell. So, with time, they believe, we have enough of him or her, let’s pick
someone else. So, when you are doing the job, know that ‘this is not my job, it is for someone else, let me do something for
which is even easy now because there is a safe haven for everybody
which is blogging, have your blog. Keep yourself documented to it, even
if it is having a book, write a book. The mistake I made before my appointment
was terminated in PUNCH was because I
didn’t have a book. I wanted to write a book on children, compile all my
stories on children because I was writing the children’s page for like 15
years. Of course, I will still do it but I just wanted to do it then on the
platform as a journalist but I think I will now do it as a blogger. So, in a
nutshell, just have your own. Know that this is not my own, know that I must
just do my own because those publishers were even younger than you when they
started. The late Chief Olu Aboderin
was not up to my age when he started and his children are reaping from what he
did years ago. So, if every journalist sees himself or herself as a publisher,
online or terrestrial, anybody will not be kicked out anyhow because they know
you are doing something and you are good at it. But we just collect that
salary, run to assignments and come back, we are not thinking of our future.

Kemi Ashefon to Asabeafrika…’Every hardworking journalist is a potential blogger’

Give a word to fans all over the
world, people who have followed Kemi Ashefon all over the years and who now
read your blog?

I was
telling someone yesterday ‘I don’t work
in PUNCH again, I am no longer in PUNCH’
now people should follow me on my
blog which is kemiashefonlovehaven.blogspot.com. So, anything about me will
be on my blog and my website when it is out. To my fans, I love you all, thank
you for keeping me in business because I have enjoyed the goodwill, I am
enjoying it right now. I never knew people love me so much until I left PUNCH,
it is overwhelming. The love is crazy; people call me from all areas, to say
‘ah, we learnt you left. Even people who don’t have my contact will call me,
the love is overwhelming. I really thank everybody. In fact I am so touched. In
fact I cant even remember that I have been sacked because the love is
overwhelming, everybody is trying to offer you everything and you will be the
one saying ‘no, let me take my time, I am
something else’. I thank
God, it is God. God has seen my hard work of how many years, it is a crowning
glory. So, I thank everybody and I thank you, too, Gbenga. You have been a wonderful person.