“Some governments do not understand the role of tourism in the economy and that tourism and travel has become the biggest industry in the world.”
Oluwaseyi Adeyemo has been publishing Inside Watch Africa, a travel trade magazine for a decade now. IWA is a socio-cultural and development issue-based trade magazine designed to reconnect Africans to the very essence of Africa and what is African. As the publisher and his team roll out drums to mark its 10th anniversary, Adeyemo relives his experience of transiting from the Nigeria Customs Service to travel writing and journalism. In this interview, he tells the story of his experience as a publisher in a changing world. Enjoy….
So, how has it been promoting tourism in Africa to the world?
I must confess that when we started, we thought it was going to be a child’s play. But the truth of the matter, like every other thing, it’s been challenging, but it is equally interesting and along the road we have gathered information, we have learnt a lot of things and I must say that I met a lot of wonderful Africans across Africa. And of course doing IWA has allowed us the opportunity to travel the nooks and crannies of Africa. People who are even more zealous are telling the African story from the inside. It has been a very interesting journey, we have learnt a lot and it is very inspiring because we have been able to exhume and put on the table certain parts of Africa that a lot of Africans did not know. Initially we wanted to stay with West Africa but we discovered that the African story was the same, across the board, whether in the north, south, east or west. We quickly latched on the idea to open up ourselves and start to tell the African story from within and as I said, it has been a wonderful journey.
How much of this story have you told in the last 10 years? Are you satisfied with the level you are operating now?
Definitely we are not happy with where we are now because we discovered that it is not a function of theory. As a media house, we were always constrained because it is expected of us to just ask questions and create narratives but we have decided going forward, based on the experiences we have had, that we will not only just create the narrative and discussions, we want to be part of the change process, so starting from November 19, 2018 we would be hosting our inaugural lecture and we would be going forward doing several things in that regard. In other words we would be holding lectures, seminars, we will facilitate educational tours, we have actually done a couple to Ghana and South Africa but we want to do more because we discovered that we need to activate several things in several areas to be clear that that mandate and objective we set out to do 10 years ago is achieved and we know we just cannot achieve it just by publishing what other people are doing, we also must be part of creating the things that must be done to ensure this objective is achieved. The time of sitting on the fence is over. As Africans, we are noted for criticising issues and actions but we have cares as well. I told my team that as a person I’m almost 50, at what point will I be part of the change, not just talking about it or criticising, we also must do certain things. That’s why I said we have decided to do a couple of events, starting with inaugural lecture which was held in November 19, 2018, as part of our IWA series going forward, such as seminars, trade shows etc, just to ensure that Africans tell their authentic African stories to the rest of the world.
Looking back at the last 10 years, what would you say has been the constraints and what has been your strength?
The major constraint, and I know most media houses will agree with me, is funds. Incidentally, a lot of us in Africa do not consider publication, reading and such things in that area as priority In most cases even when you are marketing it, you want to get funding, and to get adverts for it, it’s always a challenge, that in itself has been a major issue. A lot of Africans are very receptive, very interested in telling the story, that also is something that has motivated us, what we are trying to say we are not saying it alone, it is something that a lot of Africans are bordered about, they are dreaming about it, the desire to say it, so when we get them to talk, it’s like ahhh, we have been waiting for this all the while and that encourages us a lot, rather than seeing the constraints and feel bad that the funding is not there, we are encouraged to forge ahead. In fact we promise everyone out there that they are going to see more of IWA in the next 10 years and by the time we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, it would be very clear that we are pursuing our mandate with all vigour.
One wonders how you transition from NCS to publishing. How did you achieve this?
Mostly, it was passion. Truly, when I started a lot of people discouraged me, they asked why are you moving from being a regulator, an officer, a civil servant to becoming a writer, a story teller, a journalist, that there is no relationship whatsoever. But I said to them that incidentally, while I was with NCS, I worked in the Public Relations unit, and as protocol officer, so all of that equipped me to understand that the mass media is very critical thing to do. So, when I retired, one of the first things I did was to go to FRCN Training School Ikeja, where I got trained as a presenter, a broadcaster, because they have a training school where they run short courses. I know there was a need for me to have formal training to stand the skill of what I want to do. Yes I have the passion, am driven by it but I needed to be trained so for me I believe whatever you want to do is worth doing well, that’s why I went for the short, very intensive course.
With the rate of success attained in ten years, don’t you think the time you spent with the NCS was wasted?
Absolutely not. I’m convinced that the time I spent in the NCS was a very good one. I keep telling people that life is a training school. Unless you miss it whatever you are doing, it might seem like you are wasting your time, because you are not doing what you are supposed to do, somehow you gain something. One would say, imagine, having gone into that regulated and regimented environment, I wasted my time, no, I learnt a lot of things, like discipline, tolerance because I was a patrol officer, I lived in the bush, I chased smugglers, as enforcement officer I led regiments and so now when I get to my office at 7am my staff wonder. This is because I’m trained to work for 24 hours. When some of my friends see my face they pay compliments and I laugh, but if they had seem my face when I was in the jungle they’d say otherwise. I was a patrol officer, parade officer and because I was truly in love with what I was doing I learnt a lot of things. That’s one of the reasons why I say am successful in what am doing.
Having spent a decade in travel and tourism reporting what area do you think government should fine-tune to drive inbound traffic to Africa?
Some of the governments do not understand the role of tourism in the economy and that tourism and travel has become the biggest industry in the world. Most developed nations earn their major income from tourism and travel business. Africans must understand this.The interesting thing is that every society has a peculiar opportunity of becoming financially stable. No matter what you are offering, whether in America or Europe, you will always desire to see other climes. Government should understand that the rest of the world is ready and waiting for us, but they need to put certain things in place so that when they come they would truly have an exciting experience.