“Omo Naija, how far now?” “Omo, Ghana, I dey ooo!”. Sharing similar cultures as evident by the sometimes eerily indistinguishable food, naming nomenclature, and wedding traditions, the relationship between West Africa’s superpowers – Ghana and Nigeria – can best be described as ‘sibling rivalry.’
One person who knows the intricacies of these best is pan-African media specialist, YemmeYbaba, a polyglot – eight languages and counting – who is armed with firsthand insight into the cultures and lifestyle practices on the continent. For over a decade, he has been a mainstay on the entertainment scene. How did it start and how is it going? Below we find answers to these and many more.
Background and early life
Adeyemi Adebayo Victor Jnr was born in Kaduna state, Nigeria. Known as the ‘Centre of Learning’ as it is home to a number of prestigious institutions of higher learning, in the north of the country. He, however, spent his formative years across the capitals of Nigeria (Lagos), Ghana (Accra), and La Cote d’Ivoire (Abidjan), which he credits for giving him a well-rounded appreciation for different views and cultures.
This is only eclipsed by his appreciation for the uniqueness of women, being surrounded by sisters and aunties, as he was the only son of his parents. YemmeYbaba, as he is popularly called, describes childhood as ‘beautifully normal’, and his family as tightknit as it was characterised by an intense influence of love, care, responsibility, and biblical teachings.
Recalling those moments, he says, “Undoubtedly, the highlight of my childhood was the travels, especially during the holidays, with my mom who was a trader at the time. It undoubtedly shaped my perspective of life and I continue to reap the benefits of that multi-cultural upbringing.”
With family bonding sessions heavy on music across genres, particularly the hits of the 60s and 70s, Yemi knew early on that his heart was set on the performing arts and the joy it brings. This was fostered by the guided freedom he was given at a young age, as well as the encouragement to pursue his dreams.
To get a better understanding of the path he intended to pursue, YemmeYbaba enrolled in a Performing Art programme at the tertiary level. During his time in school, he carved a niche for himself with his witty yet profound take on issues. This endeared him to many of his peers and led to a growth in his popularity within the school and beyond its borders.
Subsequently, interactions with different industry players across the entertainment spectrum broaden his passion and zeal to set down a marker in his chosen field. This has seen him cement his position as a Pan-African lifestyle publicist, motivational speaker, and entertainment critic. As part of his job, he provides bespoke publicity and brands communication solutions for individuals and businesses in the country and beyond its shores. He continues to share his take on his website – (http://www.ytainment.com) and social media platforms – and recently introduced the YTAINMENT app
He also doubles as a Master of Ceremony and serves as the host of a number of shows including the #BrunchAfrica for Ace Cable Network. As an entrepreneur, he is the brain behind the ‘yẹmmẹy Slippers’, among other ventures with his partner.
Awards and recognition
His outstanding contribution to the entertainment space has seen ‘YemmeYbaba’ consistently recognised by his peers on numerous occasions, spanning a decade. In that time, he has been adjudged ‘City People Entertainment Showbiz Blogger/Online Writer of the Year’ (2014); ‘Falcon Awards Best Blog Writer’ (2016); and ‘Jack Daniel’s Nightlife Best Social Media Influencer Award’ (2018), among others.
A lifetime student of philosophy, Yemi’s favorite quote is, “When I die, let it be said of me that (even) though my sins were red as scarlet, I touched lives positively,” and credits English Novelist, Marie Corelli for sustaining his love for reading. His favorite movies all feature Antonio Banderas and on top of his playlist are songs from 2Baba of Nigeria and Andrea Bocelli of Italy.
Not one to rest on his oars, Adeyemi Adebayo Victor Jnr is working assiduously to teach and provide a means of employment for hardworking and passionate young people as he continues to build towards a world-renowned media conglomerate.
In a quick-fire chat with the B&FT, the Ytertainer, YemmeYbaba, shares his thoughts on a number of industry issues.
B&FT: The sibling rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana appears will go on forever. Beyond trolling one another, how best can acts from both countries take advantage of the relationship?
YB: ‘Healthy Collaborations’ is the answer. Until we see ourselves as one, until we see the good in each other, until we believe that togetherness would take us far, then it may be difficult to take advantage of this relationship.
B&FT: What can we do to attract more investors into the creative arts?
YB: We have had this discussion in a merry-go-round fashion numerous time. We simply have to have an industry that would be easy for investors to be familiar with, not one that would seem cumbersome to them. We need ideas on how to build a large market; one with a competitive advantage. This would tell investors that we are serious and ready to play ball. Until then, we shall continue to move in circles.
B&FT: What steps should be taken to reduce exploitation in the industry; for artistes and their managers alike?
YB: From where we stand, it’s simple – sincerity, openness, conducive environment, financial institutions’ interventions; so that there is a constant flow of capital. Ultimately, there must be protective laws governing artistes and managers alike and these must be enforced.
B&FT: Africans love their sports, football especially, how best can we combine this with other forms of entertainment, especially music?
YB: Modern-day sporting events welcome people of all ages and backgrounds seeking more than just their share of action on the pitch. You’d agree that crowds at sporting events are placing more value in the entertainment and pleasure they offer off the pitch, and businesses are quickly responding to this. With new technologies developing on a daily basis, and the fleeting trends of an ever more influential and younger consumer base, sporting institutions’ need to adapt is stronger than ever. Adaptability is key.
B&FT: There has been a lot of activism lately; with #EndSARS in Nigeria and #FixTheCountry in Ghana, should entertainers be involved or stick strictly to their craft? Won’t it hurt their brands? How best can they stay true to their jobs and be activists at the same time?
YB: Wisdom in the involvement of activism is key, especially with our environment, our terrain, and our zone. Unlike outside, where it’s not a huge issue but back home, brands, celebs tend to be labeled as ‘stubborn’, or ‘not courteous’ because you are fighting for your own rights. Those with strong powerful voices, with huge numbers, can use their voices because they are Influential. In regards to how best they can stay true to their jobs and activism? They must learn to draw the line as to where to cross and not to cross.
In his own words
On applying for Ghanaian citizenship: “As a Pan Africanist, I don’t need to apply for citizenship when we are all one. That mentality has seen me traveled to other African countries and felt at home.
My first time in Ghana was for school in early 1998. I left after his junior high schooling and returned in 2007. Ghana is home and this is because of the warm reception, love, and sincere acceptance I have received from the good people of Ghana. They are my ‘family’. There are a lot of Ghanaians living in Nigeria and have called there their ‘home’ as well.”