Kikelomo Atanda-Owo is fondly called Kiki, she is a marketing communications expert with significant experience in the marketing, advertising, communications, public relations, and client account management world.
Last year (2021), she published her autobiography titled ‘Unbroken’, where she detailed her life experience and the intricacies of her marriage that almost took her life.
Having started her career more than a decade ago at Silverbird, she has gone on to work at several other establishments and sectors blessed with admirable achievements.
Her Show the ‘Realtalkwithkike’ is a mechanism of positive change in the society and recently turned two years.
As a woman, she has had her challenges, and how she has been able to overcome them is an inspiration to womanhood.
In this interview with Azuka Ogujiuba , Kikelomo Atanda-Owo
talks about her past marriages, career, regret, and wishes.
Q: Before the advent of social media, you were already in the media sphere. Lately, social media has changed journalism with a lot of fake news, what is your two-cent on that?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: First of all, I feel media is a vessel of change and it has brought a lot of societal transformation. However, I feel we have a lot of amateurs in the industry where everybody owns a camera phone and an android phone, which indirectly makes them a reporter so to speak ‘journalists’ for those who didn’t study journalism as a course. I also feel that when it comes to how media has evolved today, it is a very powerful tool even amid the myopic scope of reportage that we have in the industry today—still, many thanks to technology. When I started in the media at the time, I read mass communication at Igbinedion University, and I also did a lot of international courses regarding media. But today, not many people that we have in the media industry today actually learned the course, and for me while I understand that you don’t necessarily have to read the course, but you sometimes when you find yourself in a field that you know, that it puts food on the table, at least you should one or two courses, yet many thanks to technology again, YouTube has made things easier for everybody, you can go on YouTube and learn one or two things. It has helped a lot of lives and careers, but I feel with what you have asked me, I think that while we are thankful for media, especially social media to be precise, I feel that social media today has brought a lot of swift information. Once upon a time, we relied on prints, and once upon a time, we relied on TV, but today, I feel social media is now the new television, social media is now the new form of transmitting information, but at the same time, how quick are reporters/journalist in reporting these pieces of information without verification—that’s the reason we have a lot of fake news all around.
I know several people might not agree with me, but I feel that there must be some sort of sensor that guides us on social media. Sometimes you go on social media, and it is very overwhelming and depressing. I feel like, in this side of town, we don’t pay attention to mental health and that is where I believe that, the real broadcasters and journalists have a lot of work to do, in terms of reportage, in terms of how they verify their news. There is no investigative journalism today anymore, people just want to jump on trends. They want to jump on sensational news, just to drive traffic to their pages, hence the reason we are having some of the challenges that we are facing now. We have seen the likes of Lai Mohammed, the current minister of information proffer the opinion that there must be some level of regulation on social media, and I agree with him because it will help the next generation coming after us.
Q: How did your journey into the media space begin?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: Fantastic. Sometimes when I look back, I thank God that I reversed to the media. Like I said earlier, I read mass communication in school, I did international relations at Kingston University, Penrhyn and I have done quite some courses in other universities as well as Lagos business school and many others in terms of professional courses and all of that. However, as I said earlier, I read mass communication in school, and my first major media encounter was with Silverbird at the time, and that’s almost two decades ago, that’s twenty (20) years ago, and I started as an IT student. From there, I grew from one department to the other based on the value I was adding. At some point, while trying to find myself, I worked with quite a several organizations, different industries, banks, telecommunications, financial organizations, and all that. But before, as I said, I worked with Silverbird, from Silverbird, I worked briefly with TVC, from TVC, I went to Nigerian Compass, and from there, I went to AIT and many other organizations. But when I thought of another stream of income, people suggested that I open a boutique, do this and do that. Running Z-Edge Limited has been demanding and amazing. Sometimes, people do not understand the entrepreneurship level, when it comes to running a business, sometimes, you could be facilitating quite a several training, and before you know it, the business might slow down and all of that.
So, I thought about it, about that second thing that I know that, when I wake up every day, I will be happy that I am going to work—hence the reason I thought deeply, and returned to the media. And today, I will say that my reversion to the media has been God’s blessing. What do I mean by that? There are quite a number of people that I have met in the industry that has given me that support system that I need in the industry where no one is ready to help, where everyone is just about themselves. I am grateful that I met quite a number of ‘Egbons’ in the industry who were ready to support me. Because at the time I started in the media, there were no social media platforms, it was different journalism, a different media practice at the time. So, coming on social media was when I actually had to open an Instagram page. I struggled with it at the beginning, but today if you go on my page, you will not believe that it’s the same person that was struggling with it at the initial stage because have come to embrace it totally. It is because I know the influence of social media as well. You have to use the tool in a positive manner, not in a negative manner, and that is why I think that people must find their path in what they want to use social media for before going into it. I Am grateful to God that I have the support system, I am grateful to God—Nigerian Breweries, Air Peace Eko Hotel, and quite a number of organizations, even though some other ones are no longer supporting, I am still grateful to you all. I am indeed grateful to God, that when I reverse to the media, I had such a wonderful support system.
Q: Z- What does company Z-Edge do?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: At Z-Edge, we facilitate training for company staff. We also bring in motivational speakers to talk to them and help them mentally. There is some one-on-one training that some organizations sometimes do not have enough financial muscle to bring a number of their staff together to say they want to train them, also because I know that Covid-19 has affected the business greatly. However, Z-Edge is a company where we facilitate training. It is a chain of business but mainly on training and co-operate services
Q: You were brought up by your grandmother, whom you call Alhaja, tell us about the experience of growing up with her and the impact it has on you?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: Many thanks for that question. I cannot tell my story today without not talking about the woman who raised me to be who I am today and more importantly, my father. However, my grandmother was the physical person on the ground, in terms of morals—imbibing morals, in terms of raising me, in terms of the love and the care that a child needs but when it comes to financing and the luxurious life that I lived, I have to give kudos to my father. My father use to be one of the top executives in the banking industry at the time, Eko International Bank to be precise—that was the last he worked before he stepped down, and I can say that without my grandmother today, I don’t know if all the morals and values that I have today and have been able to actually transition to my children would have been possible. We live in a society today, morality has been swept under the carpet, where people have lost their conscience and also have this mentality of ‘I don’t care I don’t even know how we arrived at that. Also, I am sorry to use this word, we live in a society where sex has become a handshake among ourselves. I am glad that I was grounded by a great woman of virtue while growing up, an entrepreneur and most importantly, I cannot talk about my grandmother without also talking about the woman who gave birth to me. Without my biological mother, I would not have been where I am today regardless of the kind of relationship we have, but I understand that also, she was trying to find herself just as I was trying to find myself at some point when I lost my grandmother. Above all, I say many thanks to my late grandmother, Alhaja Habeebat Atanda-Owo, and of course to my dad, you have been awesome, you are the best girl-dad that anyone can wish for. To date he has always been my best friend, always supporting me. Of course, my mother supported me in her best capacity. I like the fact that we lived together for a long while after I had my last child, Niniola, and that kind of brought us together more. Above all, I think I wouldn’t want to speak further than that.
Q: There is this societal pressure for women to marry early, was that the case with you?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: I wouldn’t say I was under pressure, but at the same time, I can understand when you are with your friends and you are the only one, so to speak that is not yet married. There is a part of you, that when you want to contribute to the conversation and they will say ‘Oh yea, you don’t even know a man yet’. Yes, my first husband was the first man that I knew sexually. I know that there was a lot of peer pressure in terms of wanting to fit in the midst of your girlfriends who are getting married. At that age, was I too young? No. I feel what actually happened was loving the wrong people, not that you are the wrong person, but you are just loving the wrong person. I cannot change the hands of time because I have beautiful children out of my past marriages and I would say that all that has happened are lessons that have defined me today.
Q: You have been married twice, would you marry again if the opportunity arises?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: Let me start by saying this, you see, first of all, I am happy to share my story, I own my story 100%. My story is a compilation and reflection of my actions in the past, especially when it comes to me writing this book ‘Unbroken’ what you just asked me, is actually in this book. I will say that after writing this book, I understood that life is not black and white for the first time, I am the kind of person that has always seen life as black and white, that is, if you don’t love me, I cannot love you, if you don’t do this, I cannot do that. But, after writing this book, I had an understanding and a conception of life much better. What do I mean by that, there is one particular thing I said I will never do in my life, and that changed my perception, that made me understand that until you find yourself in certain situations, you should never judge—even though you must be conscious of your actions because of your children. However, for the institution called marriage, the answer is YES! My understanding of marriage today has changed, am sorry to say this, but we live in a society where people think that a man is going to validate your existence, am sorry, I am not of that opinion. I also even feel that right now marriage scares me, but at the same time, I know it is a beautiful institution when you are with the right person. With all that has transpired in my life, for the first time I want to take ownership, what do I mean by that? I cannot keep pointing fingers at the others without me not taking ownership. Sometimes, you think that you can change the people that you have met, sometimes you have high expectations regards how your partner should behave.
Sometimes, we want our happiness to be validated by them. But with all that I have experienced today, I have been able to understand that all the hurdles that I have been through, psychologically, morally, and societal wise were things that were preparing me for today and I must tell you that I have no regrets when it comes to my past relationships. I have no regrets when it comes to the children because my children are the biggest investment that I have today. I also see that however, we look at it, there is a culture here in this part of our world that we actually have to unlearn and relearn. What do I mean by that, I feel that the society favours the men—it is alright for a man to marry twice and have a failed marriage without not being judged by the society but we live in a society today where when a woman faces such hurdles in life, she is being pulled down by fellow women on the grounds that she must have had a character flaw—there must be something wrong with her, it must be that she is not doing this or that especially when you a beautiful one like me—I am beautiful, let me brag a bit. They tend to want to judge you by your physical appearance, it is unfortunate that if I tell people that I can count how many times I have been to the club with one hand. It is unfortunate if I tell people that I am not a party person. It is unfortunate when I tell people that I am not someone that wants to wait on a man before I can achieve certain things. I just feel that we all need to evolve when it comes to this marriage issue. I am grateful today that I had the courage, and that courage to walk away is always an issue. I must say this, even my father or fathers like everybody knows, I have two fathers, one is my biological father and also DIG Taiwo Lukanu who is my second father, who was also part of the people who raised me, supported me with everything I have done up till today. I cannot help, but say thank you to them for prioritizing my mental health and also my happiness. I think that where we are today, parents need to start understanding that parenting does not end when your children get married—that’s even when your parenting starts, that is when you need to look out for your children the more because we live in a society where even the children are also finding themselves. There is no institution that is teaching people about marriage.
There is no institution that is teaching people how to relate with one another when it comes to human behaviour—especially mental health. Most time, we see people coming from different backgrounds, and different values, coming together to form a family. I must tell you guys as I have always been saying, I am in a place where I am not sure if I want the monogamy kind of marriage anymore, yes! That is the reason why I said earlier, that after writing my book, I realized that life is not black and white, even though I am owning my story. I am going to be writing another book, I am going to be coming from a different sector entirely, that women should actually open their minds to. I have an Ireti’ in my life right now, he is a good man and the likes, but I am not so sure if I would not be lying to my audience that marriage still scares me, that marital institution still scares me, but because I have been there twice, and I have no regret about it—I just want people to understand that our culture has placed a lot of importance when it comes to protecting the interest of the men instead of protecting the interest of the women, instead of understanding that women own the society, that we birth the men and that is where I feel we all have to evolve. Also, the men, I feel there is a lot of orientation that has to come for the men, to make them understand the place of women in the world of today. Today, the way women think is actually different from the way our mothers use to think. Another thing is the threshold of olden pains, I think that’s also another issue why divorce is very rampant today. But guys, all I am going to say is that love is a beautiful thing, marriage is a beautiful thing when you are with the right person, and understand yourself first. I feel that women of today, do not even understand themselves first. You need to find yourself first before you take that step, hence the reason why I can say that I am in a place where I can say that I have redefined what partnership and marriage mean.
Q: Your book ‘Unbroken’ is quite gripping, tell us about the content?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: Many thanks for the question. Again, let me start by saying that I am happy to tell my story, and I own my story any which way. Like I said it is a compilation and reflection of my actions in the past—this beautiful book that I am holding right now is an understanding and perception of how life has evolved, and how I have grown—I am now more informed. In one of the chapters of the book, I talked about my last marriage. I actually feel that my last marriage could have broken me, that’s the truth. The reason I said that my last marriage could have broken me is that a woman needs a man, and a man needs a woman too—you both share your challenges in the past and try to help each other, but you will not expect that the same person who you have spoken to about your past, about your story, will actually now come back and do worse to you. So I look at that time and feel like ‘how wicked can we be as human beings. Like I said earlier, I got to understand that life is not black and white as people think because I have learned a lot after writing this book. Just like you asked me about women breaking into other women’s homes, I’m sorry to say this, I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because of what I said earlier that I don’t mind being a tenth wife of a man today, and the reason is that if you actually pay attention to that line, you will realize that this is a woman who is scared of love, this is a woman who is actually scared to give up herself again and be broken, a woman who is trying to guard her emotional stability, hence the reason why I said that.
But again, I must put a clause to this, if you must as a woman, decide to say that you want to settle as a tenth wife, you have to make sure that the other woman is aware of it, you must make sure that you protect your own children, you must make sure that you find yourself in a position where you can have a mixed family peacefully, regardless of whatever life throws at you. Am sorry I am a Yoruba woman even though I have Delta blood in me, no matter the kind of home you want to enter, you must know that no woman who genuinely loves the husband and is loyal to the husband, would want to share her man but sometimes we find ourselves in funny circumstances in life where you don’t actually understand. For the records, this story was largely about my failed marriages, human behaviours—when it comes to friends when it comes to associates when you are in a place of power when it comes to my foundation, and more importantly the series of trials that I went through in my last marriages.
Q: Tell us exactly what caused your marital breakdown?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: It was based on infidelity. It was based on physical violence and mental violence. I am not in that place anymore and I don’t really want to put energy into remembering what happened—the reason being that if you ask me if I feel what I felt many years ago, the answer is no because I do not live in the same house, I live in a different house now—I live in another world now, so that remains in my past. All I am saying is from the projections of this book, ‘Unbroken’ and truly I am ‘Unbroken’. I will tell you that I want women to own up to their journeys, I want women to own up to their stories, and I want women to also take ownership of where they thought that they also goofed, because no matter what, there will be one or two times where you would make mistakes as a woman and you have to sit down and reflect on. Women need to understand that sanity, their well-being, and of course, the growth that you bring into a relationship matters, what you bring to the table also matters. I feel that we are in a society where the women wait on the men, but I believe that both parties need to come together, to contribute to the home front.
I don’t think that men need to be put under such pressure, hence the reason why sometimes I feel that some of the challenges are not good. Some people might be asking why I am talking from this angle, well I think that we have a lot of lazy women today, please no offense to women. Just like I said earlier, I ask myself what role ‘what role will a man want to come and play in my life today that I am not playing’ because I feel like I am now more empowered financially, physically, morally, and spiritually. I feel that women need to quickly grow up on that because we have a lot of ‘slay queens’ on social media today—they put in a little work and try to show off the luxury lifestyle that is actually causing a lot of confusion for the next generation, so to end this conversation, I feel that women today need to prioritize what is more important, in terms of finding yourself and understanding that slow and steady wins the race, consistency! You do not have to wear that bone-straight hair now because if you ask me, apart from the fact that I come from a background where I am being supported by my biological father and of course, my second father that is well known when it comes to my career and all of that. I feel that it is another thing for you to be supported by your parents but it is another thing for you to be willing, to want to put in the work and that is where growth and maturity, and knowing yourself as a person and as a woman comes in.
Q: At what point did you decide that you are going to walk away from your last marriage?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: You know, I feel that you are taking me back to my past, and I am actually trying to avoid going back to it, because, in my head, I no longer live there, but I do understand the importance of sharing my story so I can help another woman and I feel that on that note, I want women to understand that they should empower themselves, the reason being that sometimes, that empowerment brings a little bit of respect from the side of the men. When you are in a place where you rely on the man 100%, then you have put yourself in a vulnerable state where anything can be thrown at you, and you have no other option but to embrace it. However, regardless of what the society is, I feel that the society today has inherited the ways of our parents and grandparents upon us, subconsciously that a woman must have to embrace anything that is thrown at her, to show that you are a loyal and strong woman—there is nothing wrong with you saying that you are no longer strong—there is nothing wrong with you walking out. I have seen quite a number of instances, look at Osinachi’s story today, she was a woman on fire, this was a woman who was working 24/7 but this is her partner who is the manager and he decides to kill her. Again, couples must learn to separate a business relationship life from their marital home. I feel that what is also some of the challenges that we are facing today, hence the reason why some unbelievable things are happening. I am using this opportunity, this medium, Media Room Hub to speak to women who are listening to me, who are watching me, that staying alive is more important than being a Mrs. Staying alive and having a career, even with the fact that the social media has helped a lot of the women in online businesses today, you don’t actually need to leave the comfort of your home before you can earn something. I know quite a number of times, where my PA orders a lot of things from social media, and I know how much it cost, some months we calculate a million-plus from people that we do not know, from people that we have been able to empower their businesses. This is why I say that anything that affects you mentally, that affects your peace, it’s time for you to shut that up.
Q: When did you decide to start your talk show ‘RealtalkwithKike’ which is now in its second year?
Kikelomo Atanda-owo: I already spoke about running my cooperative organization, that is Z-Edge where we facilitate training and offer a lot of co-operating services as well—bring in motivational speakers. Yes, Covid-19 has affected how many organizations tend to want to do physical training now, there are a lot of things that are on at the moment, of course, many thanks to covid, and of course, we are all learning along the way. However, before Covid-19 I did my reversion to media and I wanted to start from TV, I faced a lot of challenges at the time and my girlfriend Bimbola actually said to me ‘ Kike why don’t you start from radio?’ radio for me was new—I felt I didn’t know anything about radio because I felt you have a lot of convincing to do on the radio because people are listening to your voice and sometimes, you have to sound based on the story at hand so that you can carry your listeners along. I felt that that was too much for me to do. But I love challenges, and I worked on them, and today the rest is history. I am happy for the training radio has given me today, I am happy for the fact that when I started, quite a number of people could see through my passion, knowing that I was in the media space before, like two decades ago and coming back to the new era of social media presence and the likes was a new thing for me. Again, I thank Azubiuke of inspiration Fm for insisting that I must open a social media page for ‘RealtalkwithKike’. I felt like I could be giving out all the information from the inspiration Fm page, but hey, I am happy for the support system as I said earlier. Now, my transition to TV finally happened after a year on radio and my sponsors were also seeing the value that I was bringing to the table and they kept on sponsoring, and the value that you bring to the table determines the next food that you are going to keep on the table. That was how everybody came around to support. There was a part of me that was asking ‘am I really sure I want to do this?’ in as much as I had been wanting to return to TV.
When it eventually came calling, I wasn’t also so sure, quite a number of people actually say ‘oh am so confident in a lot of things’ guy! I doubt myself sometimes, yes and there is a lot of work that goes into it, till date, I do not have a producer. I once had a producer and that was Dolapo, a fantastic human being who came in and worked briefly with me for two months. She contributed so much, and of course, I had one other person too who worked for one month, but I must tell you that it is not easy being a producer of the show, it is not easy being a content researcher and developer. Again, I had my cousin who also worked closely with me, who was also helping in terms of content development. Transitioning to TV, I have met fantastic human beings, yes, quite a number of sponsors were just waiting on the side and everything just worked out fine for me, I didn’t have to bring in people, and that was clearly a message from God. I had to do it so I can put smiles on people’s faces and also grow with them, even though it was eating into my profit. I have met fantastic human beings, I have met quite a number of them, that today when I sit down and think back, I just say thank you to God that I made this decision. I have Damilola, I have Lolo and Marshall even though some of them no longer work with us. I must confess, as one of our proverbs says, 20 children cannot play together for 20 years and that is exactly what is going on as we move ahead, there will be new faces, and new people will always be involved. My prayer today is that all of them at some point get to their own final destination of being a C.E.O and doing their individual thing, but for now, we are just holding each other and I say thank you for that.
Q: What is the place of your book ‘Unbroken’ in our society, what advice do you have for the women out there?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: I just want to say this, everything I have written in this book right here is me owning my worth of honour, and my respect through the mud, through all the challenges that I have faced. Nothing in this book was exaggerated. I have receipts of all that I have spoken about. I have receipts of even violence that I really did not want to put in this book because of my children. Sometimes, you have to protect the future of your children and not have a myopic lens right now because you are telling your stories. I want women to understand, that regardless of what life throws at you, you have to keep picking yourself up, regardless of what life throws at you, you have to understand that you own your life, regardless of what life throws at you, you have to understand that as a woman, the society has made us understand that we all need a man, of course, we need a man, we need good men who are supportive, we need the men who are well raised by their parents, we need men who understand that loving and supporting another human being ( a woman) will not take anything away from them.
Q: Were you ever suicidal at any point in your last marriage?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: Yes at some point in that relationship. At some point, I almost ended my life, but I might not be with the people that surrounded me at the time, but I must tell you that I had this support system. I have women who I never thought would lend their voices, who I never thought would give me that support. I also have parents who supported me regardless of what society will say. I must tell you that my last marriage almost ended my life. You know, sitting down today, and reflecting on it, even though I am trying not to go back to that same place that I used to be. Am grateful to God, and I am grateful for the fact that I have the courage to walk away and protect the sanity of my children and me.
Q: Who inspires you as a woman (careerwise) and would you love to interview as a journalist?
Kikelomo Atanda-Owo: That must be Christiane Maria Heideh Amanpour. I love Amanpour I am obsessed with her, it is just so bad (She laughs) but of course, my first role model is my grandmother late Alhaja Abibat Atanda-Owo. This is a woman who raised me to be who I am today, so I am a believer in the fact that your role model must come from your home front. Your home role model should come from your foundation because we see quite a number of people on the streets with lofty resumes, but in terms of character, we do not know these people behind closed doors. So I am of the opinion, that your role model must start from your home and foundation and that is why I am giving the credit to my late grandmother and the second person to me is Amanpour—I am so obsessed with her when it comes to her achievement in her career, I am obsessed also with the fact that she has been able to overcome all that has been thrown at her, everybody has challenges. She has had challenges in her marriages and all of that, but she has been able to hold on to her relevance in the media industry. Again, let me tilt it back to Nigeria, I like entrepreneurial men. I like business and career-driven men—from the media, there are many men that I adore, I have Dele Momodu, Reuben Abati, and quite a number of men that I admire in the industry. I admire their work ethic and the impact they make in the media. When it comes to the co-operate world, there is one person I think I adore which is Tony Elumelu. I love the fact that when it comes to CSR, he is one person who understands it better through his foundation, and also when it comes to the banking industry, he is one person that I can tell you that I admire.