Polish Your life Till It Shines. Until It Shines, Don’t Stop Polishing – Kobby Kyei
TVOA: Hello it’s your host, Kadmiel Van Der Puije and Welcome to TVOA podcast, today We have a very special guest with us, Mr. Kobby Kyei, a Ghanaian blogger and digital marketer Mr. Kobby Kyei can you please tell us a little bit about your childhood growing up?
Kobby: Growing up, I wasn’t from a poor family and I wasn’t also from a rich family. It was in between, my mom was a professional nurse and my dad also worked at the fire service. I grew up like any ordinary Ghanaian boy who will wake up in the morning, just move around after school, playing with the bicycle and all that. I had my junior high school at Agona Swedru, but I’m from Agonaduapa in the Central Region and I completed my junior high school from Greatford Preparatory also in Agona Swedru and I was posted to the Central Region, Fanteankoma Senior High School. That is where I had my senior high school education.
So right after senior high school, I went to do a Diploma in music at the University of Education, Winneba and right after my diploma, I did my national service. After national service, I came back to do a degree in music. Generally, I was a normal boy growing up who had a passion for media and also music, so I went to the university to read music and I’m here today.
TVOA: Well, that’s very interesting. I was actually watching your interview with KSM and I learned you studied music. What type of music were you trying to pursue, was it rap, r&b or hip life?
Kobby: When one says they went to school to do music, it is assumed they went to school to do rap music or gospel music, but my case was different. A lot of people can’t even read music. In Western terms, studying music implies the students can actually play piano and read the script. I studied the art of music.
Kobby: I know the lines, keys and notes. I know what key a person is singing in. I know how to play a few instruments. So, mine wasn’t necessarily hip-hop or gospel but generally, I went to school to read the technicalities of music. The trumpet was my major instrument. So, I am a professional Trumpeter and I also play a bit of the piano.
TVOA: Wow! That’s very interesting. You do it all. Did you have any Role Models or mentors that you could confide in his or her presence growing up? Were there any music artists or trumpeters, pianists that you looked up to?
Kobby: Yes, so in the field of trumpet, I looked up to a brother who was my senior in the University. His name is Patrick. He is part of the Ghana Symphony Orchestra. He is an excellent Trumpeter and aside from the technical side of music, the person I was really looked up to was Sarkodie. I don’t know if people see it but we look alike. So Sarkodie’s charisma, content wise, when it comes to music; his production, his chord arrangements. His music as a whole and his whole brand was so attractive to me and I just wanted to be like him. Not necessarily to rap or to be to be a musician. I got inspired by his attitude and the brand so I just wanted to be like Sarkodie in the media space.
Sarkodie influenced me so much! And when it comes to the blogging space, someone like Ameyaw Debrah also inspired me. Ameyaw Debrah is one person who started this whole blogging thing and he is our godfather. He also inspired me. So, these three people: Patrick, a trumpeter; Sarkodie, one of Africa’s best rappers and Ameyaw Debrah who is one of Africa’s best bloggers.
TVOA: Can you describe how you first got into blogging you? Did you realize that maybe you couldn’t make enough music through playing the instrument or was it just your passion?
Kobby: Okay, so like I said, growing up, I wanted to be a TV presenter. I wanted to be a radio presenter. Back in the day, we had Junior Graphic. It came to the schools every Wednesday so I made sure I saved some money to buy the Junior Graphic. After University, Africa, it’s always hard after University and getting employment so it was hard for me. I got a job to teach music at Ashaiman Senior High School but I didn’t because I was so much into the media space. I was following Sarkodie. I was following a lot of the artists to post about them, but I had no idea what blogging was. When I met Ameyaw Debrah, he told me that he thought I was blogging already because he saw me post stuff about Sarkodie, Stonebwoy and the rest of the artists and I said, oh I was just doing it for passion. When I got back home, I said, so why don’t I just try and venture into it professionally. I started reading about it online, asking questions and here we are. Actually, November will be my 3rd year. I would say it was because of the love and the passion to be in the media space that got me into blogging.
TVOA: How will you describe your blogging style?
Kobby: I try as much as possible to put out very beautiful, inspiring content and my visuals are also very innovative. My music background has also given me the knowledge to review music. There are a lot of entertainment pundits who look at the surface of music, but if you review my Instagram posts, you would realize that I have a lot of music on my page that I’ve reviewed technically. That is also the side of me that a lot of people don’t have the privilege to do. When you come to Ghana and mention Kobby Kyei, Kobby Kyei is a guy noted for positivity, inspiration. Someone who makes sure that he pushes the youth and does not tarnish peoples names. If an artist is even doing something wrong, I am always looking at the positive side of it. That has been my style since I started and it has been very difficult for me because everyone was running after traffic and even though traffic is good, nobody was putting out positive content that would inspire people. But within a space of three years, by God’s grace, I am part of the top bloggers in Ghana. I don’t put out fake news. I don’t put out too much negativity and I’m always looking at the positive side of our artists and also our entertainment space.
TVOA: So, you mentioned that it took you three years to rise to the top of the bloggers in Ghana. Can you describe the best strategy that worked well for you to get more traffic to your blog?
Kobby: Some of the things that I adopted was to go for content because quite a number of times a lot of bloggers want to sit at home and wait for content. They are waiting for someone to say something then they can get content out of. But I go for the content and also do my personal interviews where I move to the artists. I also have a space, a studio where I do my interviews. One of my strategies is also trying to review music, trying to do things that people are not really paying attention to. Yeah, exactly. So, my exclusive interviews and also engaging with the followers , putting out good content. In terms of visuals and graphics.
TVOA: So, what has been the most challenging moment of your journey thus far?
Kobby: Like I said earlier, the trend was to just put out fake content or harsh headlines to get traffic but because I wasn’t following that space it was difficult for me because you put out a very beautiful interview, you don’t use any controversial headline because I don’t use controversial headlines and I get low numbers.
People hardly visited my page because I wasn’t trying to be controversial. So, it was one of my heartbreaking days. I used to question why I would put out good content but people were not following. Had thoughts like, should I go to the other side of it to always put out fake news and controversial stories? But that wouldn’t also help the person I am conducting the interview with. I couldn’t be selfish and say I am putting out controversial headlines to get views or traffic to my site. It is also going to affect the brand of the other party. It was very hard for me. So that was one of my challenging moments.
TVOA: I definitely agree with you on being authentic. It is a major key to your brand as well. Just like you, the Voice of Africa is doing these interviews and we don’t plan on putting out any fake news or trying to capture views or those controversial headlines because we want to uplift one another. For example, giving us the opportunity to talk to you on our platform is great for us so what we should be doing is trying to uplift you instead of looking for clicks
Kobby: God bless you guys so much. From last year I just started following your activities and what you guys are doing. Very beautiful content, inspiring and uplifting content. God bless you guys.
TVOA: What would you consider to be the greatest project you’ve worked on?
Kobby: One of my biggest projects was when I was called to a village about a twelve-year-old girl who was blind, deaf and crippled. I had to move with my team to go and do a documentary about her and someone had to come in to take responsibility for her bills and all that. That’s one thing and of course and I also have a foundation called Polish Till You Shine Foundation. Where on every 27th of March my birthday, I visit the physically challenged to donate and spend some time with them because I noticed that everyone wants to go to the Children’s Home but these people who are physically challenged and we must also give them that opportunity. My Polish Till You Shine Foundation looks into children with disabilities.
Because my mom worked in the hospital, I saw the pain some of these children go through. Another project was being fortunate to be interviewed by KSM and to also host the entertainment segment on his platform. I am just trying to uplift people, trying to make people happy, putting out content for you people to go like, “oh, wow this is beautiful content.” And also, me having life is one of my biggest achievements.
TVOA: How do you prevent burning out, both yourself and your team?
Kobby: Yes, I have a quantum plan like Wednesdays, we make sure that we rest unless the money is huge. So Wednesdays and Sundays we rest. So it’s quite flexible. I have so much passion in doing some of these things so I don’t see it to be work. I see it to be passion. And so I am passion driven and I also have a solid team. Big shout-out to Joseph, my videographer , my editor, and also one of my writers, Nabilla. It has always been passion but we make sure that we rest. Sometimes we get home at like 2 a.m., 3 a.m. but it’s all good for work.
TVOA: You can rest when you’re rich and old
Kobby: Exactly! There is more sleep after death.
TVOA: Can you take us through a day in your life?
Kobby: Yes, I speak on xylophone 102.1 FM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The show starts at 9 a.m to 12 p.m. I’m an entertainment pundit on that station. So when I wake up in the morning, I pray and by 7:30 I have to move. These days I’m always on radio. After 12, I go and run my interviews. Right after the interviews, I do a few meetings. Apart from my team and my family. I don’t really have friends. So if I don’t have anything business-wise, I make sure that I move straight home to rest. We have limited time so any free period, I need to move home and rest.
TVOA: So can you describe your state of mind on a live radio and what supports the ideal state of mind?
Kobby: My ideal state of mind as a human being , like I said, my Foundation’s name is Polish Till You Shine. When you say polish, I mean you can relate. Polish your life till it shines. So until it shines, don’t stop polishing. That has been my slogan, that has been my philosophy in life. Polish till you shine.
TVOA: That was very very insightful. I really like the slogan polish till you shine. I might have to start using it. How do you plan on polishing your brand in the next year? What type of goals do you have for yourself?
Kobby: It was unfortunate that we have had to face this pandemic. I was supposed to be in the UK. I was supposed to be on BBC (and this is exclusive) for an interview.
I was supposed to go to Uganda and to some few countries because I noticed that apart from Nigeria and Ghana, most of the other African countries are not really accepting blogging. So I had wanted to take my brand to some of these countries to push talents there on my platform. So in the coming year, we are just hoping and praying that this pandemic will go so that I will take my brand across Ghana and to other African countries to also push talents and let the world see that there are great talents in Ghana. There is a lot of content in Africa, it’s just that, most of our people are not trying to be innovative. We need to brainstorm! The whites are always brainstorming and in Africa, one of our major problems is that we don’t brainstorm and we don’t love teamwork. So if there is teamwork, if there’s brainstorming we can achieve. So in the coming year, I’m just hoping to open my main office in Ghana then travel around Africa to let the world see that there is a lot of content in Africa.
TVOA: What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
Kobby: Like I said, November will be my 3rd year in this industry and it’s not been easy for a young man like me, especially with people saying that there is no money in blogging. But I am motivated. I had to open an account and save money. Last year, I told myself that I wanted to buy a car to aid my movements. I used to pick public transport and all that and it was restraining me. It wasn’t aiding quick movements. I opened an account and I started saving small coins. By the time I realized this year, three months ago, I had gathered enough to buy myself a car to really help my brand which I am personally proud of.
I just say to the glory of God that I never bought this car with a loan from anyone. I think that to buy a car to aid my movements and to build my brand is one achievement that will inspire a lot of people because there’s a lot of money on the internet. There’s a lot of money on social media, not fraud, but genuinely, you can work hard and achieve a lot of things. For me, it is a very big achievement but also the greatest achievement is moving online or going on my timeline to see that people say that my content has inspired them. This interview has inspired me, I have learnt a lot. So God is making a way for me.
TVOA: How does marriage and family fit into your call?
Kobby: It’s good. I married at the age of 28. I am 30 now. Wednesdays and Sundays are my spare times so I spend time with my daughter. Most other days, I wake up in the early in morning to leave and come back late when she will be sleeping. So she doesn’t really see me. On Wednesdays I’m home, she will wake up to come to our room. She will see me and she will go haywire, “oh daddy daddy! happy”!. I spend some quality time with my wife, my beautiful wife. Big shout out to my beautiful wife, Mrs. Adwoa Kyei and my daughter Khendra Koranteng Kyei (Baby Kendra). I love them so much and I just thank God for their lives.
TVOA: What’re the strengths and fails of the blogging industry in Africa?
Kobby: I think that Nigerians are good. When you visit the pages of Nigerian bloggers, you notice that they are not joking. They are always thinking, they’re always coming up with good content to inspire people. Content that will motivate you to revisit their page all the time. I think that in Africa, even though gossip is good, we are still developing. Africa is still developing. We are not developed yet. And so if you want to get to the point where we see that Africa is developed then we shouldn’t be putting out too much gossip and fake news. I know fake news is everywhere, but it makes sense when you are successful and you are developed and you are trying to push certain fake news out there. Even with that, it comes with some costs. If you don’t really take time you can be sued but you visit some other bloggers’ pages and you notice that there’re a lot of jokes. Things that are not news-worthy are there; things that are not really relevant but just because of likes, just because they want to get the numbers.
You go for an event and you see someone shaking her boobs, twerking unnecessarily and you put it on your platform. Let’s look at a bigger picture. I say that when you’re putting out content, these days because of social media and mobile phones, if I’m posting content, I ask myself what if the content I’m posting is seen by a kid holding his mother’s phone. Let’s always look at the bigger picture. We should have enough bloggers dominate in African countries, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, all African countries. There should be bloggers because now with social media, we are in a digital space. Let’s portray what we have in our country to the World Market because you don’t know who is following you. I have friends in the United States who are not Ghanaians. So they are using my platform to see the things in Africa.
Another thing is that, it is good to do a Kanye West, Celine Dion or Jay-Z story, but that should be like 1% of your content because most of the Western World gives us a small percentage of news coming from Africa. So Africa’s bloggers, media, should use our platform to showcase more of Africa news, more of African continent, more talent from Africa so that they also know that we have genuine people. We have genuine content and beautiful things on our continent. I think that that should be the focus, that should be the strength of African blogging space.
TVOA: Right! I’m definitely with you on that as well. So how would you wish to see the future of the media industry in Africa?
Kobby: I think the media space in Africa need to pay much attention to our indigenous stories. We need to focus on the beautiful stuff. Now, and also trying to broadcast or show the good things of Africa. I was shocked to hear that there are parts of USA that is like a village. Sorry to say. Like you go there like a lot of dustbins and rubbish all over.
TVOA: It’s funny you’re saying this because one of the series on TVOA TV is called America without Filters, Just as much of Africa is misconstrued in media, the image put out of the United States is not all what it seems! In this vlog series, we explore parts of America that is much neglected by the public eye in uncut, raw, and exposing footage.
Kobby: UK, Britain, they are showing the beautiful side of it but when you come to Africa, we are always portraying that we are sad and poor. Always we are poor! Always funerals! We give so much attention to funerals than weddings!
TVOA: It’s very sad, and that’s why things have to change.
Kobby: Collectively, I think that, Africa media should do ourselves the needful to protect the good things in Africa and that’s my only worry. Let’s make sure that we push the good things that are in Africa. “Efie biaa Mensah womu.” [Translated: There are problems in every household] Every country has their flaws but it depends on the media. And the media is very powerful. Sometimes when I sit back and I see some of the media houses, from bloggers putting out content, I’m like damn! You have a lot of people who are not Ghanaians watching what you are posting so be careful what you put out. You can just put a short video and it can go global!
These days, a lot of the media houses are putting unnecessary content out there because of traffic and we must change that narrative. Traffic! Traffic! Traffic! Because you want everybody to come to your platform, listen to your radio station; watch your TV station doesn’t mean you have to put on silly content.
These days, most of our musicians are not paying attention to their productions. They are putting out low standard videos because they feel that they must put them out. No! Look at Amakye Dede, look at Lumba, look at Kojo Antwi. You listen to their records these days and they are still timeless but our new generation will compose a song and within a month, the music is out of the system! It is out of place! It’s out of context. It’s because we are not trying to value content. The media is putting things out there just like that. People who are the content providers are also not trying to sit down to give good content and in the next five or ten years, we will still be the same. We will still be here where we are.
Why we are facing those problems?
Kobby: Because the majority of the media is owned by politicians these days in Africa, the top politicians are controlling most of these stations and so the politicians control the content that should go out. The politicians control the newspapers and all that. Gone were the days you buy a newspaper and they are putting out analysis and facts that will blow your mind. Bribery and corruption is not allowing that anymore. Politicians are owning media houses, which is not allowing people to genuinely do their work because your boss owns the station. And if you have evidence of bribery and corruption or a problem going on at a village or at a place in his or her constituency, you are limited in bringing that news content out even though that will probably help change society. But because your boss is related to or affiliated to a political party, you are adamant to put that genuine content out and that’s our problem in Africa.
TVOA: Hopefully in the next couple of years and being consistent we can change that as well. Having people like you speak on our platform and putting out information that we are currently putting out; how can the Voice of Africa support and contribute to your causes?
Kobby: Yeah, just trying to share my content on your platform, my articles on your platforms. If you visit my YouTube channel, I’ve interviewed quite beautiful people but nobody’s talking about it because they are not controversial. Most of my interviews are interviews that the markets should hear. So I think that you guys will help me to put out my interviews in your magazine, your newspapers, on your dailies so that people in the diaspora will know that ‘Chale’ there’s something, there is content here in Africa. People are making sense.
This interview must go global!
TVOA: People have to hear and these bloggers also need to hear what we are talking about too. Do you have any advice for any young aspiring media personality or blogger following in your footsteps?
Kobby: First of all, take God seriously, that is one. When growing up, I will hear big men, successful people saying “God first!” It didn’t make sense to me. So when God started blessing me then I noticed that God is indeed the first point of contact. God’s blessings are timeless. ‘Juju’ or ‘malam’ blessings are limited. So if you want the timeless blessing that you’re going to enjoy till the end of your life and also to have a continuation for your children’s children, then it’s only God. That is one. Secondly, know that this is what you want to do, stay focused, protect your mind and what your mind will consume. Thirdly, what I want to say is that, make sure you read if you are an aspiring to be a blogger or media person. Make sure you read wide. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Seek education! These days you don’t have to go and sit in a classroom to get knowledge. The internet is available! Read more don’t use your phone to watch pornography! Use your phone to google, search, read, learn and also build good relationships. A lot of people always want to sit in their comfort zones and do their thing. No! Good relationships! create teamwork. If you know that this person is a videographer, this person is a good writer, don’t be selfish! Build relationships with people! And again, don’t always wait for content, go for the content. Fight for the content you understand? And my last statement is that choose a good and peaceful partner. It’ll help your work. If you’re in the media space, you need a peaceful partner.
TVOA: Thank you Kobby Kyei for hopping on TVOA podcast. We had a great conversation. Hopefully, we’re able to inspire some people out there to change the minds of a few people as well. So we’re definitely going to keep in touch.
Kobby: God bless you guys so much! I’m just looking forward to having the full interview published so I can also share on my platform.