McEva Temofe, initiator of the African Economic Merit Awards, a Pan-African merit award, spoke to Mary Ekah on the driving force behind all he does, particularly the AEMA, which he describes as a movement aimed at raising desirable and dependable young African leaders
How long has your radio station, e/30radio been in existence?
The e/30radio has been running for three years now. Presently, we cover about four African countries and one western country. Apart from that the other major project we are working on now, which is the African Economic Merit Awards (AEMA), being powered by my company, PurpleHundred Group.
What is the concept behind e/30radio?
It is more of exposing African legends and also international legends and getting the most recent songs amongst our top African artistes, which we go extra mile to do before any other station gets the songs. And that is what makes e/30radio different from others. Also we talk about fashion on our radio station. Again, one major thing that sets e/30radio apart from others is our ability to do realistic journalism. Also, we get the latest information and at the same time, we make sure that we reach the grassroots. e/30radio is also a radio station that you can listen to on the go at wherever you are within our transmission areas.
Running a radio station is not a child's play. So what in the first place informed your decision to go into such venture?
This is my background, this is what I do and this is what I love. Doing this is to create positive news and to feed the people with information. I have worked with a couple of organisations as a media person and of course standing on my own and starting my own radio station has actually given me the platform to do what I love doing and that I so much know how to do best.
What are the challenges in running the radio station?
The only challenge I would say I have running the radio station is when I wake quite late like around 8am. At such times, I feel very bad. Apart from that, I do not have any challenge. I love what I am doing. It has been a very good journey so far though tasking. It has been rewarding because no matter what, when you work fully for yourself and in dignity you get the rewards in multiples. I have passed through a lot of hurdles but I bless God so far because He has been with me all through the journey. He has been firmly behind me and without Him; I don't think I would have actually come this far.
Let's talk about the awards you initiated, the African Economic Merit Awards (AEMA). What is it about?
The African Economic Merit Awards (AEMA) is a Pan-African award that touches lives positively while raising African leaders on merits. Its aim is to reward successful African entrepreneurs and also to recognise non-governmental organisations that are con- tributing to the growth and the development of Africa economy. Like I tell people, this is not just an award, it is a movement. AEMA aims also to harness talents at the grassroots in order to help young people realise their potentials. The maiden edition is going to hold by December 2nd and 3rd but a whole lot have been done before now. My NGO, PurpleHundred Charity and Empowerment Initiative, just finished empowering about 3,000 students in Kuje, Abuja and their lives have never remained this same. We have been receiving lots of calls, SMS and emails thanking us for empowering them materially and morally.
In April, we are holding a world summit, which is, tagged, "Effect of Youth on African Economy". We are actually looking at setting the right path for African youths, giving them the right direction towards achieving their potentials. We are harnessing talents to make sure that African youths are not a waste to their generation. Apart from that, we are also having our award conference later in the year before the award holds in December.
What qualifies one for the awards?
It is not an award that some people just come together and say, this is the person we are going to give the award. There is actually a break down to how people will be receiving the awards after submitting their profile under the category they feel they deserve an award. We have advisory committee members who are representatives of all the 17 African countries that we cover presently, who actually look through the profiles then give their reports to our patrons and grand patrons and then our grand patrons give their feedback to the executive committee made up of few executive members with brilliant minds working on this project to make sure that something great comes out of Africa. They would look through it and then determine who deserves the award under each category. The categories will be made known to the public during our world press conference holding soon and with this, the president will just approve them. The plaques are being made by a world-renowned jeweler and would also be signed by him. He will be unveiled during our world press conference holding soon.
Most awards are believed to be influenced one way or the other so that at end of it all not those who are qualified get the awards. Will AEMA be different from this?
This award is far different from every other award because of the procedures of receiving it. Here no individual comes to say, 'this who I want' rather it goes through a channel. That is why we have set up an advisory board committee with members from all the different African countries in which we operate. These are achievers in their careers, people with large working experiences who have contributed so much in their own way to their communities. And also we have our patrons who are reputable people in the society - these are the people in the executive team. So it is a chain that goes round before any one could be said deserved an award. Again, it is being categorised and the public votes also determine whoever they want to win a particular category. So it is a process.
So who and who and who are you working with on this project?
Right now we are being supported by ECOWAS and African Union and we are also talking with other private organisations - airline, telecommunications, individuals and as well as the banking sector to see how they can come in so that we can form a synergy to better the lives of Africans.
Where is the award holding?
The maiden edition will hold in Nigeria, the second edition will hold in Kenya while the third edition will hold in South Africa and on and on in different countries of Africa. We are spreading the venues for the awards across African countries because it is a Pan African thing and we have directors in every African country who are doing amazingly well in their various countries, spreading this work to the grassroots. So we are taking it around Africa even though the international headquarters is situated in Nigeria, the reason we are lunching it in Nigeria.
What was your working experience like before you established PurpleHundred Group?
PurpleHundred is about six years now and before it came to being, I have worked with Temofe Raj Communications as the Creative Director and with Guerpad Nigeria Limited where I worked as the Media Director. Presently, I serve as a member of board of Mallpai Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation and also the Director, Media and Publicity of the NGO. I have consulted for several organisations - both private and federal. I was Head Consultant Media formation work plan for the office of the former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Which will you describe as your biggest job as a media consultant in the last six years? I take all my jobs as the biggest so that I deliver my best. So every job that I have done, I consider it the biggest.
But at least one must have come as a hit?
I consider every one of them a hit.
What did you study at school?
I am a Mass Communications graduate from Espam University, Benin Republic. I also did Cinematography in Johannesburg, South Africa, Radio in Nairobi, Kenya and Radio in Nigeria, respectively. I went all the way to Benin Republic because the school is very practical in the course I studied.
If you weren't doing this, what would you have been?
If I weren't doing this, I probably wouldn't have been doing anything.
So how was growing up like?
Growing up was amazing. I grew in Lagos but I am from Ukumzu in Delta State. I think the way I grew up shaped me to become who I am today. Growing up has thought me a whole lot on how to face challenges and take responsibilities. I started living independently at a very young age. I got myfirstcollarjobattheageof22asa Creative Director of a multinational. And as a young person of 23, I made a difference by imparting lives positively; I also held a leadership position at such an early stage of my life. Growing up was great with my siblings! We taught one another new things, we invested in games, we produced a lot of things by ourselves and we also learned the godly way. Our parents taught us the right principles of life and how to follow the criteria towards achieving whatever we set out to achieve. As little as we were then, there was this belief that was imbibed in us that whatever you intend doing in life, do not deviate from it and then you would be a star and this has stocked with me for years now. Today, I have grown to be a young African who is contributing his own quota to the development of the continent.
In what particular ways did your parents help in shaping who you are today?
They helped by their prayers and also by making me know that it pays to work faithfully and truthfully in God's way. And also so, most of the things that have to do with life itself, I learnt by myself in that. I read a lot and I love travelling. I never studied Science but I love Science and I love adventure. So this actually broadens my heart. In other words, a reader is a leader and a learner is a leader as well. I make sure I read at least one book in a month.
At what age did you establish your very first business?
I got my first collar job at 22, like I said, but before then; I had become independent at the age of 18 but I actually decided to own my own business at the age of 21 or there about. Before I eventually established my first business, I was actually doing a lot of things. I was schooling and at the same time as a creative person, I was creating content for different organisations and friends who always come back for more. And then six years ago, I decided it was high time I established my own company. I would have done that earlier but because I was working for a multinational organisation then, I felt I had to concentrate on what I was doing so as to give them the best, which I did.
What lesson has life taught you?
Life itself is a school, so you don't let it pass through you, but you pass through it. And life has taught me that, what you give, you get and what you believe in, you get. And standing by the principles of what makes you be at peace, makes you and never mars you. So life itself has been a broad teacher and it has been amazing.
You have the resemblance of the famous African movie actor, Ramsey Noah. Have you been acting in movies?
I have got different offers for that but I do politely say it is not my calling because I do not carry the vision they carry. Mine is far different. The Nigerian movie industry practitioners are doing amazingly well, trying to act and express other people's character. But for movies and me, it is a two different world.
You are a very handsome and attractive, how do you cope with advances from ladies who want to have a crush on you?
Ladies are attracted to me and I am attracted to them because what God has created is extremely beautiful. It is just a natural thing for this exchange to go on in the society, we are human and we should treat one another very well and be more welcoming so that we can have a better society. I have lots of ladies friends but I think when they come close and they see a different person, who talks more about how to make things work in Nigeria, African and the world over. And that the relationship is just on what we can do together to make things happen and all that, they back off or remain on that level.
But if you are refer- ring to developing affairs with these ladies, well you know you can be in an emotional relationship with all your admirers. One has to be chosen so that you live a decent life. So those who come to me with such intentions, when they see that there is no room for them, they know what next to do while the ones that are ready to stay as friends will remain as friends.
What would you advice young people who aspire to be in your position?
Nothing in life comes easy. If you look at the most beautiful treasure in the world, made by God, it is very difficult to find and it is not exposed. Is it diamond, gold or pearl, all these found deep down the ocean. So nothing good comes easy. Hard work and rightly done work come with a great and priceless reward. So I would say, youths should be strong and never give into wrong advice, bad company and that they should believe in what they are doing, so far they align with the truth. And then for them to learn to think about the next generation and how to develop communities and then build a better society so that we can all live in a better nation and a better world.
What is your vision for your organisation as a whole in the next few years?
In the next few years, we intend to be a better organisation to the society and to impart more lives positively and to see a lot of youths in Africa be part of this movement in the nearest future. It will be my joy that this has actually touched more lives across Africa and beyond.