From the constantly troubled and back streets of the
Niger Delta region, Irikefe Obareki, famously known as
Kefee, has sang her way to fame and fortune, thereby
gaining both national and international recognitions.
As an inspirational cum gospel musician, sultry Kefee,
has not only traversed the length and breadth of her
crisis ridden Niger Delta region, but the entire
nation, preaching peace and love with her songs and
In fact, the happily married Branana crooner with two
hit albums to her credit, is seen as a role model to
millions of youths, especially those from her region.
In this lovely encounter with AZUH AMATUS, the petite
artiste currently on Alec’s Music passionately took us
down memory lane and revealed how her romance with
music and the klieg lights began.
She also spoke on the early challenges, how she
conquered, why she married the boss of her label and
Enjoy the interaction!
What’s good, what’s new and what’s cooking with Kefee?
Everything is good and there are so many things I’m
working on; my new album, I’m also doing the
concluding part of Branama Two. I have Branama One and
Two and the Two has a video CD, it was so because we
could not put all the videos in one CD, so we decided
to break it into parts, it is coming out this December.
In the video, I remixed Branama with Paul Play Dairo,
we did the song in Yoruba and Urhobo. I also worked
with Sunny Neji, Freestyle and other artistes on the
project; in fact, it’s a loaded project. Aside this,
my label, Alec’s Music, is also planning of releasing
other artistes on our label, like Dude Tetsola, Teddy
King and others. Aside the video, I’m also working on
my new album, which I promised my fans, would be out,
hopefully next year. And don’t be surprised to hear
Branama in Spanish, because it’s a good song.
What’s the latest on your peace initiatives for the
Niger Delta region?
Well, I have done my beat and still doing what I can
to reach out to my Niger Delta people. I had a peace
show tagged Niger Delta Peace Concert, and it was a
huge success and star-studded. It held just a week to
the April elections and people are still talking
about. It was a free concert aimed at bringing peace
to my Niger Delta region. I followed up with another
one, which was also very successful with several
Nollywood stars and musicians.
What inspired these concerts?
First, Niger Delta is where I come from and I love my
people so much and it was just the little I could do
for peace. Besides, we need so many reasons to be
happy in that area. We also need development in that
area and should not distract good things from coming
to us. The concerts were also another means of telling
the youths to make good use of their time. The world
knows about our plight and it is really time for our
people to dialogue and stop the kidnappings and other
terrible acts going on. With all these in mind, I
decided to embark on the concerts to preach peace and
love. We are also helping one or two children by
seeing them through schools.
But how optimistic are you that with concerted efforts
from people like you, the much-eluded peace would
return to the Niger Delta region?
I am 100% optimistic that peace would definitely
return soon and this is also the hope of everybody,
especially people from my region.
We are also praying and hoping that things should also
get better for Nigeria. The Niger Delta problem,
affects all Nigerians and not only us. My concerts
would also be held annually. We also want to be
visiting schools and be donating books and other
materials to the students. All these are going to be
done under Kefee Peace Foundation; I don’t want to
call it an NGO yet. I’m doing this, not because I have
so much, but just to touch lives and help humanity in
my own little ways. Besides, instead of dashing out
recharge cards always why not channel the money into
things that are beneficial to the society.
In your quest to help advance the course of peace in
the Niger Delta and also assist in ameliorating their
sufferings, what would you say are the major
Well, personally, I will say finance, because for any
good thing to really work, it must be funded
adequately, especially here in Nigeria. I cry must
times, when I see people suffering and that is why I
always try to help in my own little ways. Since I
can’t do much, let me just contribute my little
efforts towards positive change. So, in essence,
finance remains my major challenge but I’m also trying
my best. Again, if you begin to source for money, a
lot of people will begin to misconstrue your good
intentions. So, I’m very, very careful in soliciting
How did you come about the name, Kefee?
Kefee, was extracted from my real name, Irikefe
Obareki, but now Godwin that I’m married. Sometimes,
in 2000, I released an album with a friend of mine; we
were in a group together and decided to go by the name
Estee and Kefee.
Was that how your journey into music started?
After releasing with my group in 2000, I think I
started professionally in 2003 and that was when I
released Branama. But the group album was titled
TRIP, fortunately, it was this same Alec’s Music that
Was that also when the ‘toasting’ started?
Well, if you say so, but I was still at UniBen then.
Estee, is also the younger sister of my husband. She
is in the US now and works with the U.S Navy. So, I
went solo when she left.
What is Branama and where and how did you come about
Branama means show-off, shakara, an Urhobo word for
too much effizi. I also showed off with Branama,
because at that point in my life I had reasons to show
off. The album has nine tracks and it’s a gospel work
cum inspirational work. Alec’s Music, which is owned
by my husband, also produced and released the work,
but we did the recording in Port Harcourt. It was a
thanksgiving song and I sing about anything I believe
in, especially God, which I believe in so much. I came
to Lagos fully in 2000. But I started singing from a
church called Temple of Deliverance Ministry in
Sapele, Delta State.
Branama was no doubt a massive hit, while you were
recording in the studios, did it ever occur to you it
was going to be a huge success?
Yes, I saw it coming, but not like the way it
exploded. Besides, it was not even the major song on
the album and that time too, I was not even a good
songs writer like I am today. Amazingly too, my
husband wrote most of the songs in that album. Then my
husband was always criticizing me, so I was very
reluctant to even sing Branama to him when it was
composed. But surprisingly, the day I sang the song
for him, he liked it and that further encouraged me.
But at what age in life did you discover you could
sing very well?
Let me say when I was eight, because that was the
first time I sang in my church’s choir, where my
mother is also a member. Amazingly too, my dad loves
music too and gave me N5, the first day I sang in our
choir and that got me excited and further encouraged
- I continued from there and kept getting money from
my dad, so at that point, I knew I could sing. You
know, as a Delta State born and brought up girl, I
have always been bold. Truth is that my parents
inspired my music growth and career.
So, in essence they supported your music career and
your choice of going into showbiz?
Yes, to some extent, but they also had a problem with
me when I wanted to go into it professionally. First,
they wanted me to go through school first, which I did
by reading Public Administration at the University of
Benin. Then, wearing trousers too was an issue,
because my dad was a Deacon in the church. My dad was
shocked the first day he saw me on TV. In fact, my
church suspended me for going into showbiz, as the
director of the choir. They wanted me to cover my
hair, wear long skirts, no earrings and all that, but
With all these harassments then, how did you feel?
I felt bad, but was not ready to give up my dream
because I’m also stubborn. I decided to go on at the
end of the day, even though it was also difficult for
- Surprisingly when our G.O returned from his trip
to the U.S, he overruled the church’s decision and
told me to go on.
While all these were going on, what was your mum’s
My mum was just there giving me words of
encouragements. In fact, it was so tough and rough
that my dad vowed never to pay my school fees again,
which my uncle took over and promised to continue
paying. Deep down, I was not happy that my father was
disappointed in me, but at the same time, I did not
want to give up on music, which I have an undying
passion for. Also, I never allowed stardom to
And how old were you then?
I was about 20 then.
But has your dad soft-pedalled?
Yeah and he is so happy and proud of me now. When I
released Branama and invited several top dignitaries,
he was overjoyed.
You are married to Alec Godwin, the CEO of your record
label, how did your path cross?
Well, we met in the same church in Delta State; he was
born in Sapele but from Edo State. His people own the
church. I grew up knowing him in the church. But he
started talking to me in 1998, but I did not take him
serious because I was not interested and very young
So, when did you eventually give in to his pressures?
Let’s not go into all that now, but he eventually
proposed and we got married in 2005.
Have you ever bothered to find out from him, the
things that got him attracted to you?
Well, he said my confidence, eyes, especially whenever
I look at him. He also likes my voice. Even when we
were in the choir together, a lot of people always
look down on me because of my age and stature. They
kept saying I should leave because it was not a
For you, what got you attracted to him?
(Giggles) He is a very focused and gets something when
he wants it, very straight forward and also, the fact
that he was taller then me.
Both of you are in the klieg lights, does that clash
with your personal lives?
But we have also been in the showbizness together
before getting married. It does not change anything;
the difference is that I come out of his house every
Does your husband treat you like the star you are?
Yes, he does, at least “he de try”
And how is married life treating you?
I have been married since 2005 and we are leaving
happily… It’s been good.
What are the challenges of being married to a
celebrity like you too?
The fact that he has a record label, which also
released me and based on the success of Branama, he
decided to give a platform to other artistes and also
invested heavily in them. But some of them are turning
against him after all we did to help them. Some of
them even went to the extent of saying that the record
label is using them to build Kefee up, while in the
real reason, the outfit is using my sweat and fame to
promote them. One even had the guts to say that he
joined the label in order to help Alec’s Music, does
such statement make sense? Why come to us when you
have all it takes to help yourself. One of these
artistes that we have helped immensely has been going
about spoiling our name. All these are not fair
because they are not appreciating our efforts.
But the impression out there is that you are the iron
lady of Alec’s Music and decides who gets what?
I don’t think that is true, Alec runs his show and
very much in charge. Besides, I’m not bossy. I would
have released my third album but can’t because we have
other artistes on ground., I can’t just rail road my
work like that. The only problem I have is that I’m
Alec’s wife. I was not there when these people were
signing their contracts, so the whole accusation is
very bad. I heard recently that I have driven
everybody away from Alec’s Music. Except for Rhymzo
that left, all our artistes are still intact.
What kind of a person are you?
I’m a very down—to-earth person, homely and very
patient. I also don’t respond very well to
intimidation and I don’t like people trying to
intimidate me. Like they say, a strong man stands for
himself and a stronger person stands for other
persons. I think I’m a stronger person because based
on the success of my work; I have given other acts a
platform. Despite all the ill givings, I will not stop
doing my best for artistes.
What is your brand of music?
I’m an inspirational singer and sings anything that
has to do with positivism. I try as much as possible
to make my songs universal.
As an inspirational artiste, what stands you out?
My voice stands me out, but some people like my
costume, my hairstyle, dance steps and some like
everything put together. There is really something to
like about me. My voice is what I like most about
myself. In fact, it is my most prized possession. I
love to hear Kefee sing.
Do you have role models?
I love my parents a lot; they have been married for
long. Musically, I love the voice of Tracy Chapman,
Lauryn Hill, Yolanda Adams and Oprah Winfrey even
though she is not a musician. Here in Nigeria, I love
Christy Essien Igbokwe.
Let us take a look at your background?
I’m the third child in a family of six, we are three
at par, in fact, and my younger sister is my replica.
We would like you to share your vision and mission
with us as a fast growing music star?
I want to touch and better lives with my position as
an artiste, basically children, that’s my mission. I
look forward to having a talk show someday and also
reaching out to the business world. Already, I am
talking to some banks on the possibility of starting
my own line of children’s’ toys. In fact, it will kick
In the next couple of years, where do you intend
taking your career?
I see myself heading to the very top.
Even though you are married, how do you cope with men?
No doubt, I am married but Nigerian men still toast
- In fact, one even said I should quickly go and
remove my wedding ring, after asking if I was married.
I was born in the early 80’s. But a lot of people see
me and still think I’m still 18.
But have you ever bothered finding out what part of
your body that keeps attracting these men to you?
I don’t know what they are looking for.
Does your husband get jealous sometimes?
No, he does not because he knows me and is very
comfortable with me. He understands what I do and
knows they will come after me.
As an artiste on Alec’s Music, what is your dream?
I really hope and pray to get to the very top and be
heard globally. That is also my dream for Alec’s
Music, we are also into marketing, but piracy is one
of our major problems?
Any last word(s)?
This is Nigerian, it is the motherland and we should
try to make it work. Together, we all can stand and
that is the master plan. We should also stop blaming
other people for our failures, let us own up. Special
thanks to my fans for standing by me; I will never let
them down because I appreciate them all.
First published, October 2007