INTERVIEW: Financial Gratification Does Not Determine My Relationships - Rachel Bakam (Photos)

In this interview, Amb. Rachel Bakam aka Rachel the Piper, a TV presenter of the programmes Trends and Rachel (T&R), Hausa version, Yanayin Zamani Da Racheland Rachel the Piper, gives a peep into her life, relationship and her recent trip to the United States of America. ‎

Why did you leave acting?

Acting is my first love but it is truly very demanding when you mix it with television production and presenting. I have not left acting but I've just taken time out to build a niche as a television producer and presenter but I intend to produce good films and very soon, that is what I will be working on.


You were in the USA for a media programme recently, can you tell us your experience?

I was selected to represent Nigeria among several countries at an International Leadership Visitors' Programme (IVLP) which has produced many global leaders like Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, among others. It is a programme put together by the US Department of State during which we get acquainted with television, radio, print and social media. We also get acquainted with the American society. I've got to put on the table of discussion how the western media usually portray Africa sometimes in a negative light. For example, presenting more of the few negatives than the many positives. I flew the Nigerian flag throughout serving as the tourism and goodwill Ambassador due to the love and pride for our fatherland. The good thing about the American society is that, they are open to criticisms and are ready to give answers. But more importantly, it was the treatment we received. Immediately we landed, we were taken to a hotel which was next door to the White House. Our rooms were spacious and we were generally treated very well; they really know how to do a great PR. Any notion you might have had of them, when they treat you like that, you literally forget about it (laughs).

They teach you about both the traditional and new media coupled with the fact that what is trending now is the social media. Someone can just pick up his phone, shoot, edit and share the videos online. Even though the television channel is still relevant, this trend is still creating a real challenge for that industry. Therefore, it is important that we give our information clear and fresh on trending platforms using new methods. In Nigeria, I am happy that so far, we are not doing badly but we need to adapt to new trends even as the whole world is struggling to keep up with the trendy youth-inspired culture of media methods to be able to reach a vast audience. Laid back/relaxed television presenting even for news to ease and attract viewership is also trendy. The worry is that soon, formal presenting may be wiped off. These and so many other new elements are serious issues. I also learnt that the American society has its own issues like every other but do the best they can do is to forge forward. All societies have their issues. Nigeria is not unique in that area. We just need to do our best to keep growing. We had the opportunity to experience the deep lifestyle of the USA through official round table sessions, visits, home hosting, cultural events, tours, etc. I attended my first baseball and American football games. It was really thrilling. I also got to grant interviews and speak on several occasions. This and so much more…

I want to specially express my appreciation to the US Embassy/Mission in Nigeria for selecting me for that programme, especially the former cultural affairs officer Bill Strassberger who nominated me. He and his wife Agnes were wonderful when I arrived. I'm also grateful to the US Department of State and all who coordinated our programme; Cynthia, Ronn, Ashley, Richard, etc. I am also blessed to have spent quality time with all the wonderful representatives from each Country. It was a rare opportunity and blessing. We shared cultural gifts amongst ourselves. I gave out colourful made in Nigeria fans, accessories, bags, beads, etc.


How would you assess the Nigerian media and where do you see it is in the next two to three years?

I think that we should be given more room to express ourselves because there are some issues that have come up here in Nigeria that I can attest to. We know culture affects the media but people should be able to express themselves and the public should be open to receiving news reports. Nobody should be afraid that when I touch a certain topic, my life will be at stake for cultural, social or political reasons. But in the US, people are at liberty to say what is in their mind. I also found out that they have similar problems like us; you'd see some people who are homeless, etc. We should therefore not run ourselves down because we have great potentials in this country. I think that our media should be more objective.


Have you experienced the impact of negative press coverage before?

Yes, while I was in the US, I had a report attributed to my relationship. It was alluded to the fact that I had a relationship with someone, I never officially confirmed that before. Secondly, there was a comparison between my ex and that person. There was another allusion which the write-up quoted me as saying that I am in my present relationship because the person gives me money. This is so funny. This is totally against my philosophy as a person. I have had a situation where someone I dated back in school had nothing. We even separated when things became brighter for him. For me, money is never a criteria.


Who is this person you are talking about?

Like I said earlier, I try not to mention names in an interview especially. But I will make an exception here because mine has been mentioned time and time again. My ex is Israel Edjeren, a sound broadcaster but it didn't work out with us and we had to go our separate ways. I didn't speak bad about him when we separated and I wish him the very best as I hope he does same for me. I never compared him to my friend, Amb. John Fashanu, I would never do that. I also never granted an interview saying that we are going out but the story has been going around. We take the pace we want to and if we want to make it public, that is entirely up to us. Let me state it categorically that I never granted an interview comparing my ex with anyone and the issue of me being with my friend for money is totally out of my philosophy as I would never be with someone for financial gratifications. I am a media personality and I cannot allow my image to be rubbished. I will not take any legal action as Punch newspaper is like a father in the industry, I respect them so much.


Can you define your relationship with Amb. John Fashanu?

I will say it as it is; Amb. John Fashanu and I are very fond of each other. We have several things in common; my birthday is 11th and his is 18th of the same month. We are able to relate with each other on a number of things and that is just the way it is.


How would you view the Nigerian entertainment industry today?

We are at a point where the new government is trying to get its feet and things may not flow the way everyone expects. We hope that when the administration settles down, things will begin to flow the way it ought to. I can also say of a fact that the entertainment industry is strong and powerful. I attended the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) in New York recently and I can say that I am proud to be a Nigerian because anywhere you find us, you will feel our strength and sense of purpose. So, it doesn't matter what is going on now, we are coming out better. One of the most dogged and resilient industries in the world is the entertainment industry. Many People around the world are in love with Nigeria mainly because of our entertainment industry.

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