DEJI IRAWO: CHIEF RESPONSIBILITY OFFICER, X2DTV, NIGERIA
In a Facebook Messenger and follow-up Whatsapp chat interview with Chioma Phillips, Deji Irawo, the Chief Responsibility Officer of Xclusive 2 Divinity TV (X2DTV) Lagos, Nigeria, shares about his call of God into Christian media, family life and the various challenges facing the African people and the simple solutions for these problems. He is precise and articulate in his delivery and we believe his heart poured out in this interview will bless you.
In this issue, we have the privilege of speaking with Deji Irawo, Chief Responsibility Officer of X2DTV; a television channel that is intentionally crafted to provide wholesome and clean family entertainment devoid of nudity, violence and offensive language for the entire family. X2DTV content has been carefully produced and screened to adequately entertain, educate and inform. The channel appeals to a largely youthful and urban audience in Afrika. Deji inspired us with his fresh simplicity in trusting God and following the Word he heard spoken concerning the use of his gifts and talents.
Please tell us about Deji Irawo; who you are, what you stand for, what you do. Really whatever the Holy Spirit places in your heart to share with us.
My name is Omooba Deji Irawo; my father is the Oba (king) of Odi Olowo in Lagos, Nigeria. I see myself as a Kingdom ambassador on earth, one dedicated to the enthronement of the purposes of God on the earth. I carry out various Kingdom assignments across the spheres of influence ranging from family to media, creativity, education, governance, church etc.
So in a way you have two fathers who are kings … Do you find that the earthly helps you understand the Heavenly better or vice versa?
Exactly, I take my fundamental identity from God the Father, which empowers me to understand my positioning as a prince on earth as well. So, yes, being royalty both ways helps you put the Kingdom narrative in perspective. Like Pastor Bill Johnson will say, ‘you rule with the heart of a servant and serve with the heart of a king.’
That’s so beautiful. So how did the journey lead you to setting up X2D (that was in 2009?)
An uncle of mine in 1991 who is into media helped me identify my gift, that I had a voice that would be great for media, so I interned with him before I got into university and that began my journey into core media. A passion I kept fanning during my university days, my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) posting was at Plateau Radio Television Corporation (PRTVC), Jos. When I returned to Lagos, I got the opportunity to present and produce a gospel show on Star FM 101.5 in Lagos and that thrust me into pursuing media as a career. On my way back from Jos after my NYSC, I heard the audible voice of God instructing me to use my talents for God-focused and family friendly media projects. I believe that was the foundation of my passion for working on various God inspired media projects like: praise singers on NTA 2 channel 5, Time Inspirational TV, Dove Music and Vision Channel Manager, Channel manager for the Hi Life channel on HITV and eventually X2DTV.
So, is X2DTV your own creation?
It’s a God creation I have the privilege of overseeing.
We like that. Please share with us the story of its genesis and where you find yourselves today.
Xclusive 2 Divinity is God’s idea to create a Kingdom media expression that uses the creative arts and entertainment to spread the mandate of the Kingdom from an African perspective to a global audience. It’s urban in nature and is aimed at influencing this generation and families across Africa for Christ. Today we find ourselves being at the forefront of creating a Kingdom entertainment alternative to worldly pop culture with the aim of producing, aggregating and distributing high quality and God-filled Kingdom creative expressions for Africa from Africa and the Diaspora. Obviously, it’s a journey of faith.
Everyone told us 11 years ago that a purely gospel entertainment TV show will not be funded because it was not selling airtime to pastors to preach, but today God has helped us to run as a 24 hour gospel entertainment channel on networks like Play TV, Kwese TV and Star Times (Lagos network). Operating funds, few Kingdom minded creative persons, advertising from corporate organizations are some of the regular challenges we face at X2D.
We certainly understand that firsthand. What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is that it’s a Kingdom assignment and not a business, so I have to stay connected to God who is the owner of the vision to be encouraged, find solutions and develop new innovations. Failure is not an option, we have to impact and influence Africa’s youthful population for the Kingdom, so we keep moving and creating God directed ideas and relationships to achieve the objective.
X2DTV recently delved into Christian family TV shows, what do you think is the most critical challenge in the family of today and how can we address it?
Africa like the rest of the world is raising dysfunctional males and females who go ahead to marry and raise children who continue the cycle of dysfunction. We are losing our values and churning out immature, irresponsible and entitled young people who lack the capacity to lead themselves and their families. So it’s a parenting crisis we have. People who are becoming parents now are ill equipped to raise balanced and successful children in our societies in Africa. The solution is to ensure that we strengthen all our social institutions like education, church, traditional, government, family etc so they all positively influence a positive culture in young people across Africa. So we raise people with values, culture and orientation that build societies and not dysfunction.
Television is certainly one of the most influential media out there. How has X2DTV been of influence in Afrika and Nigeria in the face of the growing internet?
Traditional media still has strong influence over Africa; I personally believe X2DTV has just started. We want to broadcast to the entire African continent via the leading pay TV networks and free to air. We are only on a few now and our eyes are set on the entire continent. We obviously realize the power of the internet so we are streaming the channel live via our website to a global audience and also engaging Twitter and IG as well to keep reaching a larger audience with urban gospel entertainment. Gradually, people can recognize us now as Africa’s leading gospel entertainment and lifestyle TV channel, but we still have a long way to go so we are not resting at all on whatever people think we might have achieved.
Are there any specific strategies that God has given you from His Executive Playbook that you can share with us that have been instrumental in X2DTV?
God was clear about the fact that X2DTV had to be urban in nature in order to connect with the youth population in Africa, so excellence had to become our culture and the essence of our content. We employ creative ways to share the message of Christ without the traditional “preachy” outlook of many Christian TV channels. We use talk shows, conversations and lifestyle content to creatively share the Word and our content is local driven, even in the Diaspora, it’s about gospel artistes of African origin. The Father gave us a fresh template that wasn’t copied anywhere. We also have our “RECAP Africa” content block, focusing on human capacity development in Africa with special focus on entrepreneurship, management and personal development. X2DTV is the only of its kind anywhere in the world.
Afrika is seriously in need of healing, restoration, how do you feel that X2DTV is helping with that, or can help with it?
All these issues stem from the “identity crisis” Africa suffers currently. X2DTV as a channel aims to help redefine God’s love for Africa, so as we tell our stories and share our unique talents, culture and creativity we believe Africa will find healing and restoration as we begin to love ourselves the way the Father loves us in His word. That’s why our channel is predominantly African in content, so we encourage unity and oneness fostering collaborations across the entertainment space in Africa.
That’s brilliant. Please could you tell us about your title: Chief Responsibility Officer? That’s new and unique.
I believe the orientation God has helped me build over the years helps me in my handling of Kingdom assignments. I basically believe God alone gets the glory and it’s an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with a Kingdom assignment. I believe God inspired the designation so I remain focused on the assignment no matter how “successful” X2DTV becomes. For me, CRO means I take responsibility for everything in X2DTV, but God gets the glory. It reminds me who the “Boss” is because entertainment can be distracting and I start feeling like a “celebrity”. Which I pray I never become.
To remain in the place of humility; it’s important for sure. Please share your perspective on doing business God’s way.
My understanding is that as God’s children we are building a commonwealth of the Kingdom. So we are building systems across the spheres of life and interconnecting to build capacity within our communities. This entire process involves creating values and exchange of resources. So business is a means to an end, which is to advance God’s Kingdom on earth and influence the world for God. The more we build capacity in people via skill acquisition, mentoring, training etc and we create connections that ensure they deliver value in the areas they feel God will have them function, we continue a cycle of market place apostles who create Kingdom culture in the process of exchanging values and making our world a better place. So in X2DTV our vision is to influence the world for God with media and entertainment and there is a money flow in that narrative but it’s not the reason for our entire vision and operations.
How long have you been married and how many children do you have?
I have been married for 14 years now and I have a son who is 12 years old and my daughter is 10 years old.
What lessons from spending time with God are you able to incorporate into family life, and can you see a correlation between raising them and the overall picture of your life i.e. your stewardship over X2DTV, the legacy you will leave behind for the next generation (including your children)? Does having them push you to work harder to create an alternative environment for them as well?
I have always told my family, we are a community of Kingdom ambassadors who are deployed into various spheres for His glory, so I try to bring up my children with the understanding that this is all about God. I am ensuring we develop their various talents, gifts and passions so they can be deployed by the Father in years to come. My leadership at X2DTV also bears in mind that we are supporting young people to find their space in God, we have a core mentoring and capacity building mentality to creating a Kingdom media technocrats hub. I personally discovered that my intimacy with God draws me into worship a lot. So my children have grown up around a community of worship ministers, from time to time spending hours in musical worship and expressions. Today my son writes songs and plays the sax while my daughter writes stories, paints and draws well but also plays the keyboard.
Given the opportunity to counsel the fifty-five Afrikan heads of state and government concerning the state of Afrika, what would your counsel be?
I would counsel them to create an enabling environment across Africa where the best and the most honest of us can lead the rest of us. Embracing African solutions to the African problem and the unity required for Africa to reach full potential and maximize her potentials.
Thank you for that. Truly it has been refreshing to talk to you. I have one final question – do you have any final words for Afrikans?
Africa is blessed and beautiful; I pray we can see who and how God made us, so we can rise and gift our world beautiful people with talents and potential the world is yet to see. Arise Africa.
MEDITATE ON THIS
Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be and where a man’s heart is, that will be the object of his pursuit. Happiness and its pursuit have become what many are talking about globally, and the acquisition of that which gives them most happiness is what many are chasing. Some chase after the ever elusive happiness, doing whatever it takes to get it. But obviously, as we all can see, the pursuit of happiness in this world is like a chase after shadows and dust. It’s a mirage. And the reason is simple. Happiness and the state of happiness as they relate to materialism, emotional gratification, pursuit of status, fleshly desires are nothing but transient feelings of futility. They are here one minute and gone the next minute. Every form of materialism always comes with an expiry date and whatever can expire is not worth the chase of an entire lifetime. You don’t have to believe me that the chase of futile happiness is nonsense, but the proof always comes at the death bed. FOR COUNSEL ON DOING BUSINESS GOD’S WAY, PLEASE USE: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Chioma Phillips is the Editor of Msingi Afrika Magazine and the host of Msingi Afrika Television. Her hope is to see the Truth shared, with all who will listen, for the transformation of the people and the continent of Afrika - and the world. She believes passionately in the critical role that Afrika and Afrikans have to play on earth right now and hopes to ignite the spark that will cause them to see and believe who they are, so that they can live out their Truest lives for the remainder of their days.