With Seye Kehinde, S.K for style, there are no dull moments. He would throw a banter at you and before you realize the import of the punchline, he would stare at you with those eyeballs, tilt his head back and laugh heartily.
S.K was the Editor of Tempo when I joined Independent Communications Network Limited, the umbrella company that also publishes TheNEWS. Tokunbo Awoshakin and I, still fresh from school, worked with him. It was a lively media house, full of such greats as Ebenezer Obadare, Akin Adesokan, Simidele Awosika, Ike Okonta, Gbemisola Adeoti, Waziri Adio, Alex Kabba (one-man riot squad in Abuja), Laolu Akande, Jenkins Alumona, Timothy Bonnet, Bagauda Kaltho (God rest his soul), Babajide Kolade-Otitoju and others.
First, SK taught us how to keep information that might be useful to background stories, even if it is 10 years. It was the age of newspaper clippings before Google made things easier. He once showed me a room in his flat, full of files marked with different names. That’s why when S.K wrote on the Chagoury Brothers, Mark Richt, Aliko Dangote, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Nelson Mandela, Thomas Sankara, Gani Fawehinmi, Wole Soyinka, Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou, you would have value for your money.
He made us develop confidence to face any individual, however highly placed, for interviews. They don’t have two heads! Do they? I remember he took me in his Volkswagen Beetle car to such men like Archbishop Olubunmi Okogie, Rev Father (now Bishop) Matthew Hassan Kukah, Chief Bola Ige, Ambassador Dapo Fafowora, Dr. Wale Babalakin (I still remember the man hosted us with tasty grass cutter that night), Professor Niyi Osundare and others. As a cub reporter, following S.K, like an abbot in training in a monastery, I would say to myself: “This man knows people, he has sources…”
From the outset, he drummed into our heads one abiding cardinal philosophy that if you would succeed in journalism, “do not approach it like a civil servant who goes to work at a certain time and closes at a certain time.”. He added that you “must love it, enjoy it and go the extra mile…”
He, along with his fellow musketeers, Bayo Onanuga, Babafemi Ojudu, Dapo Olorunyomi, Kunle Ajibade, gave the military a run for the cost of their guns, jackboots, epaulettes and swagger sticks. They were daring in the choice of their cover stories. They were (and still are) on the side of the dispossessed. For this, they suffered indignity of detention.
The photographs below show S.K. now and when he and his colleagues (Onanuga, Olorunyomi, now Premium Times publisher, Adesokan, now a US based Professor) were docked at Federal High Court, Ikoyi. They were sent to detention where they interviewed Fela (he even joked about SK’s mustache that day).
Open this link to read the interview:
S.K is now the publisher of City People magazine. Happy birthday. You will live long.