How I Became The Host Of Channels Book Club……Mr Kunle Kasumu

 

Getting to meet Mr Kunle Kasumu, the host of the popular Channels Book Club show on channels TV was not as tough as I imagined it would be.

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He is a very kind gentleman. Here, he talks about his early life, school, broadcasting, books, ghostwriting and other important stuffs you’d be excited to read.

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1). Early Life

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I am what you might call your classical home bred Nigerian. I schooled mostly in Ibadan. After my primary school, which was Catholic owned, I attended Ibadan Grammar School, Molete Ibadan. It’s one of those old and proud missionary schools. It was founded in 1913 by Anglican missionaries. I remember the school’s library very well. Interestingly, I wasn’t a regular visitor of the library mainly because I didn’t find it attractive enough. I have always believed that school libraries should be attractive to students. ​I think that apart from having a rich stock of materials, ambience should be the most important aspect of a school library.

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After Ibadan Grammar School, I attended University of Ibadan where I graduated with a B.Sc degree. People ask if I studied literature. No, I didnt. I was a pure science student in both my secondary school and university.
2. How did you discover your passion for books? Are you a nerd?

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I am certainly not a nerd! (Laughter) Im just your regular guy who enjoys reading among other things.

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My mum taught me how to read when I was about 4 years old and she knowingly or otherwise, encouraged me to enjoy reading. She bought childrens books and comics that captured my imagination. I think thats how I caught the reading bug if I may describe it that way. Back then, there was no cable television, internet or games like play stations so children were more limited in their choices when it came to entertaining activities. That helped in many ways including being able to read more.

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So, I read a lot as a child and as I grew up, I also started to think about writing. When I was about 10 years old, I tried to write a crime fiction novel but abandoned it after running out of ideas to finish the story. About two years later, I came second in a national essay competition that was about analysing the subject of Nigeria’s lingua franca.

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The experience got me more interested in reading and writing. In my secondary school, my essays were mostly excellent and my English teacher treated me like a favourite. Throughout that period, I developed a voracious appetite for reading. From crime fiction, sports, politics and science to religion, I always read subjects that caught my fancy and I expressed the things I learnt in writing. As long as I liked a subject, I read books dealing with it.

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For example, during my teenage years, I fell in love with chess so you could find me reading classical chess books. I remember enjoying reading ‘Think like a Grandmaster’ and ‘Play like a Grandmaster’ written by a Soviet chess grandmaster and author called Alexander Kotov. My chess became a lot better after reading those two bestselling books but more importantly, the books taught me that to be very good at something, simply study the masters of that field.

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3. How did your journey into broadcasting start? What motivated you to start the channels TV Books Club? How did it start?

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Whenever I get the chance to talk about how the Channels Book Club (CBC) Show started, I always give credit to whom it is due. CBC was John Momoh (founder of Channels Television)s idea. He first mentioned it to me almost 9 years ago in his office at Channels TV. He said he had been thinking of a TV show about books and that he was convinced there was a gap that needed to be filled. He really wanted to create a platform to promote literature and a reading culture in Nigeria.

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The other thing he was convinced about was that I was the one to host the show. Well, I shared his first conviction but not his second one. I had zero interest in going on TV! By then, I was a ghostwriter and the very nature of my job and my personal disposition, meant that I preferred to stay in the shadows. I never had dreams of being on TV, hosting any show.

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My immediate response to him was, Thank you for the offer and trust in me sir, but Ill have to pass. I suggested I could introduce someone else to him who would do the job well and he agreed. A few days later, I introduced to him, a friend of mine who loved literature and was a writer.

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Unfortunately, things just didnt work out. The young man eventually left the country to raise his family in the USA. Two years later, while we were having a phone conversation, John Momoh again invited me to host and co-produce the show.

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I was still very much reluctant to do it but his second invitation got me thinking. I felt that he was someone who could easily get a professional broadcaster to host the show so why was he insisting I should do it (he did explain that it was the type of show that required more than professional experience. He felt it needed someone with a natural passion for books)? Maybe I am meant to do it I thought.

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Two other reasons stood out as I pondered on the idea. Firstly, I thought it could be an opportunity to positively impact Nigeria. Secondly, I happen to be someone who likes to shake things up a bit in my life. I like to venture out once in a while to do things I wouldnt do usually. I like adventures and starting a whole new project or career, like the one John Momoh was inviting me to start, is always an adventure. So I thought the opportunity could help me start a new adventure.

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I eventually decided that if he agreed to mentor me then I was game, after all, John Momoh was and is still the best in the business. Thats how CBC started and thats how I got into broadcasting.
4. Are there books you have authored? Is there any other thing you do apart from hosting the show?

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In my twenties, much of my reading shifted to non-fiction and so when I decided to write and publish my first book in my late twenties, it was a personal development book titled, ‘You have a Precious Seed in you’. Two years after that, I co-authored a book about 12 Nigerian entrepreneurs who, against all odds, had built businesses and enterprises in Nigeria. The book was successful considering the fact that it was self-published. We titled it, ‘Even Here, Even Now’. It inspired people in about six different countries.  Both books are out of print at the moment and I am working on editing, updating and reproducing them.

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Well, I am primarily a ghost writer. I ghost write and publishe for individuals and organisations. Ghost-writing started for me after my second book. People who had concluded I could write, started to ask me to write articles and speeches for them. One day, I said to myself, “Why can’t I get paid for this?” That’s when I decided to set up a ghost-writing venture. The work covers books to speeches to website contents to reports and all manner of textual contents.

5. How do you keep up with reading a huge number of books since you have to read every book before you review it and feature the author?

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I dont know! (Laughter)

It can be crazy at times. I hardly ever feature a guest without reading the book in focus. Its a matter of policy for me. No matter how big or small the book is, I have to read it. If you dont read the book, then you cant understand or discuss it properly. Its that simple.

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The number of books I have to read mean that I have to take time away from many other things. But dont get me wrong, this does not mean you will only ever find me buried in a book. Not at all. I live a fairly balanced life. What helps is that I only start reading a book, a few days before I feature it. In between the books to be featured, I slot in other reading sessions. Like I said, this means I probably dont go out as much as others or have holidays like others but since I naturally enjoy reading and learning, its really not tedious for me.
6. Can you recount the number of books you have read?

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Of course not! Can you? (Laughter)
On a serious note, I am not sure anyone can do that.

7. What does it take to work in front of the camera? Have you always wanted/desired the life you live now?

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Working in front of a camera is both tough and fun. I think it depends on who you are really.

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Many people who sit in front of their TV sets, have no clue how difficult it is to put any clip on TV. It always take a lot. The producer, the director, the cameramen, the editor and other members of a crew, usually have to put in shifts to make a programme happen. It can take from hours to weeks or even months to put a few minutes of video on the screen.

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People celebrate the presenters but there are others who are equally as or even more important than the presenter, who run a show. This is why I have tremendous respect for all the professionals who work off air. Having said that, to actually stand in front of a camera takes confidence or courage to be more specific. When I started out, I was always very nervous. I am still nervous these days but I find it easier to control my nervousness and focus unlike when I first started.

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Beyond, recording, you then have to live with being a TV personality. That in itself can be tough. It can make or destroy you. You have to learn to stay humble, simple and realistic. People will form different opinions and perceptions about you but what you believe about yourself and your work is what will ultimately be most important.

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Like I said earlier, I was not keen to be on TV, but I ended up there. I have grown to enjoy and see it as an opportunity to contribute to Nigerias development and positively impact lives. Those are two things I have always wanted to do so I guess, I am in my zone.

8. Who has had the greatest impact in your career, life and family?

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Tough question. Not a simple answer to that to be honest. God has used different people to impact my life at different times. But I have to mention my mum. There’s a long story behind that and its not your usual one. But for now, let me point out the fact that she taught me how to read and enjoy reading. At the moment, its my wife. Shes the strongest pillar of support in my life. So obviously, you can see that women are important to me! (Laughter)

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I will have to mention different people when it comes to my career and life in general. People I consider to be mentors, friends, helpers, etc.
9. What more should we look forward to from you? Any plans to have a physical book club of your own? Or do you currently have one?

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What more? I’m not sure. I just want to be a better person, a better husband, father, friend, brother, neighbor and citizen. At this time in my life, I am more focused on that than on things to achieve. A wise man once said that to achieve more, become better. Of course, I have projects in the pipeline but I am more focused on becoming a better me at the moment. So, expect a better Kunle!

10. How do you unwind?

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I read, I play chess, I enjoy football, I like movies and above all, I love spending time with my wife and children.

11. Which book left you with the most significant impression?

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Very difficult question to answer but if I absolutely have to pick one, it has to be ‘The Book of Proverbs in the Bible. Sorry, if that was not the answer you expected but I really can think of another more impactful book inn my life.

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Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her suppliers in the summer, and gathers her food in harvest.

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How can Shakespeare, Dickens, Hemmingway, Tolstoy, Twain, Austen, Achebe or Soyinka beat that? (laughter!)
12. Have you ever had moments in life when you wished you were doing something else?
Yes.

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At times I wish I was playing football like Messi or acting like Sean Connery or leading like Lincoln or speaking all over the world like some of the greatest speakers around or running a TV station like John Momoh or running a rich conglomerate like Aliko etc!

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I think we all have moments when we wish we were doing something else if we want to be honest. Maybe the wishes are not as wild and unrealistic as mine but we all do once in a while.

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Nevertheless, I enjoy what I do and if you give me a billion dollars now, I will only scale up most of what I do today to take them to more global levels. I wouldnt really take the money, quit and retire till I die. Surely, I will do some other things I have been unable to do because of financial limitations but my reality is that I am largely in my zone today.

13. What advice do you have for anyone who looks up to you, who desires to do what you currently do someday?

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Believe in yourself. Have faith. Surround yourself with the right set of people. Marry right. Take care of your health. Work hard. Try and have fun. If you have kids, spend time with them. Get yourself good mentors. Be honest. Be kind. Be forgiving. Avoid greed but be financially smart.

14. How do you think the reading culture can be revived in schools across Nigeria?

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We have an education crisis in Nigeria and it is both an offshoot and the cause of a leadership crisis. We really need to focus our collective energy to fix it. There is no way we can ever become a great country unless we become a reading people. It baffles me that we hardly ever see the correlation. Its as clear as daylight.

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Knowledge shines the light in darkness. Its what built civilization as we know it.
Our schools must be deliberately designed to raise children that read. We need top class libraries, engaging books, competent and passionate teachers. Im sorry but many of the books we use in our schools today are pathetic. No wonder our kids dont want to read.

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We need homes with parents who encourage reading by reading themselves. When children are young, you have to buy books and read with them. If you dont, it will be tough for them to develop that reading culture.

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Children soak up things a lot. Surround them with books and show them how books can provide them with entertainment and knowledge and they will start enjoying reading in no time.

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The media is getting better. There are more book shows coming up on radio and TV. Thats fine but it has to improve.

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Most especially, at the broader government level, a national vision needs to be developed to improve the quality of education and reading culture in Nigeria.

15. What does it take to be a self published author in Nigeria?

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Oh, thats straightforward. Write, edit, design your book, print and have it distributed.
You can hire people to do almost every one of those things including writing if you lack the skill set or capacity.

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After you write, you can hire an editor to edit, a designer to lay out your book and create a cover, a printer to print copies for you and someone to help you manage the distribution of the book. Most books are self-published these days.

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16. Most writers have been frustrated due to lack of funds to self-publish their own books and established publishers don’t always respond. What do you think can be done about this?

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Unfortunately, you will have to raise money yourself once you do decide to self-publish. Its like raising money for any other project. You just have to crack it somehow. Get a loan, sell some things, get people to support by giving, invest money from your salary or business etc. The usual ways.

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It always helps when you have properly crunched your numbers before you venture out. How much do I need to edit? How much do I need to design? How much do I need to print? How many copies do I want? How much will I sell a copy? How many can I sell? Etc. You need such numbers if the venture is a for-profit one. There are people who self-publish not because they want to make money but because they want to share knowledge or leave a legacy. For such people, the investment is one they are happy not to make any financial returns.

Author

nikeolasiyan@yahoo.com
She has won many awards in writing and poetry amongst which are CLO essay competition (1st Prize Southwest) NDIC essay competition(5th Prize in the southwest) and a World Bank Essay Certificate of Participation She has worked with woman.ng as a content editor and a host of sites as a ghost writer. She has written great inspirational content for fashion brands/blogs. She has been featured on radio and recently added public speaking to her portfolio. You can hire her to write a professional/business profile for you, online content editing, book editing, guest blogging, ghostwriting, content creation or if you need copies of her book, contact her via nikeolasiyan@yahoo.com Facebook.com/Yetunde Olasiyan instagram.com/Yetunde Olasiyan Follow her business page on Instagram @officialladywriter

Comments

Henry Opara
August 24, 2018 at 9:51 am

Please, how do I buy the book , , Religionand the making of Nigeria by Oluwafemi Valigha?



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