How to Spoof an Entire Career: The Curious Story of Kemi Olunloyo
A middle-aged Nigerian woman was deported from Canada in 2012. What happened next illustrates how far tall tales and sheer audacity can take one in Africa's largest country.
“This is the Facebook fan page of Ms Olukemi Omololu-Olunloyo aka Snitchlady. It's either you call my whole name or it's MsKemi or Snitchlady, a Music Industry Executive in Music Journalism and Publicity. SNITCHLADY aka "Mskemi" Ms Olukemi Omololu-Olunloyo is a Publicist, Journalist and retired Pharmacist and the CEO of Keminications Media and PR and the Kay Jeezy Kids foundation which is a NEW non profit GRASSROOTS organization mobilizing Kids in the Toronto Community in bringing PEACE to their streets.”
A little over a decade ago, before Twitter became ubiquitous, the best known platform for all-access public discourse in the Nigerian online space was a web forum called Nairaland. Nairaland was what would happen if you took Reddit and forced it to have an antichrist baby with the offspring of 4Chan and an anonymous Telegram group chat. It had useful information. It had copious amounts of utter nonsense. It had interesting and colourful characters. It had epic flame wars, some of which have continued to rage for over a decade, even as the participants change over the years. It had fun - lots of fun. It had the very worst of Nigerian humanity. It also had Musiwa.
Musiwa, or Emperor Ademusiwa as he styled himself, was a Nairaland OG and a true legend of the forum, having been a member since around 2007. Not that you would know it, because Musiwa had zero interest in engaging in normal conversation with other forum members. His sole reason for incessantly posting on Nairaland was to inform anyone who cared to listen that he was the “Premier of the Republic of Western Nigeria,” or “Emperor of the Western Region of Nigeria.” Following this declaration would ensue several megabytes of data-heavy images and satellite maps to support the existence of his fictional republic.
A newcomer to Nairaland might at first see the funny side of an eccentric individual who apparently did nothing else with his time except post maps on a web forum where he talked about himself in the third person, using a grammatically terrible but strangely endearing writing style. This would quickly turn into exasperation as Musiwa’s high resolution maps and images disrupted completely unrelated conversations, and exhausted people’s data packages in the days when N1,000 could buy less than 100MB. The mods of course, banned Emperor Musiwa. Repeatedly.
It made no difference. Musiwa would simply register a new handle each time and return to post his maps and speak in the 3rd person about governing his quixotic Republic of Western Nigeria. Each one of the multiple handles he spawned would have a number after it, apparently signifying the number of times he had been banned. Upon getting to “Musiwa112”, he added a tributary handle called “Becomrich”, which did the same things as the infinite Musiwa handle - high-res images, never-ending maps, ban-resistance and all. The mods tried everything - keyword bans, IP bans, registration restrictions - but nothing worked on Emperor Musiwa.
Eventually even Nairaland founder Seun Osewa saw the funny side of it and gave up trying to banish Musiwa from the platform. Everyone learned to adjust as best they could and find ways to go around, instead of against him. Nairaland was Emperor Musiwa’s world, and the rest of us were just living in it.
Kemi Olunloyo: An Overview of Nigeria’s Real Life Musiwa
In August 2012, a 48 year-old woman landed in Lagos, Nigeria. Olukemi Ajoke “Ashley” Omololu-Olunloyo had just been deported from the Canadian province of Ontario, and she was back to the land she had only briefly known as home since she was a teenager. At 14, she had left Nigeria and moved to the USA, where she lived a broadly prosaic and inauspicious life, before apparently veering into a dizzying chain of bad decisions that culminated in a failed asylum claim in Canada, and ultimately deportation to Nigeria.
Born in May 1964, Kemi was the daughter of former Oyo State governor Victor Omololu-Olunloyo. She moved Stateside as a teenager, and eventually obtained a Degree in Pharmacy at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1988. She subsequently met a man, fell in love and moved to the city of Baltimore in Maryland. She would go on to have 3 kids, and really this story ought to end here. Competent Nigerian immigrant achieves stable middle class life in the USA - hardly groundbreaking stuff.
It is at this point however, that the story enters the realms of Emperor Ademusiwa, so I’m going to need you to stay with me here. No matter how puzzling or eccentric you expect this story to be, I can assure you that it is significantly worse than that. In putting this story together, I pored through hundreds of pages of news reports, blogposts, self-written hagiographies, police records, real estate records, academic verification records and every other type of documentation I could get my hands on to establish exactly who or what we are dealing with here.
Most people typically use lies, distortions, exaggerations and mischaracterisations as narrative supplements to go along with a core of things that are broadly true - a flavour cube that enhances a soup, if you will.
Kemi Olunloyo is not most people.
Like Emperor Musiwa, she is one of those rare individuals who exclusively inhabits a world of her own choosing. Where regular people use fish stories as Maggi cubes to season a pot of soup, Kemi regularly tosses hundreds of Maggi cubes into the pot and brings it to boil, occasionally tossing the odd vegetable into the bubbling chemical mass just for the shits and giggles.
Below is a short overview of some of Kemi Olunloyo’s bold and vivid claims, taken from a 2011 snapshot of her Facebook fan page. These claims range from the believable to the eye-raising to the absurd, but there is one thing they all have in common. They are all false, misleading or overstated in such a way as to make them look like achievements. This is a good entry point into the story of one of the most headscratching characters I have ever dug into.
1. Editor and Founder of HipHossip.com (Canada's Leading Music Blog-VH1 & MTV (Canada's Leading Hip-Hop site-BET.com)
2. Former VeeJay MTV Base (MTV Africa)
3. Radio Nigeria on-air music radio personality Premier FM 93.5
4. Canadian Correspondent BET's "The Deal"
5. Music Reporter, news anchor and Talk show host since 1996 (NBC News, WBAL-TV, V103-FM and Heaven 600AM, Baltimore USA, Premier 93.5FM Ibadan Nigeria)
6. 2008 Presenter Live Urban Award (TIMA) Toronto Independent Music Award/2010 Presenter of Best Alternative Rock.
7. Member of the Board of Governors of Kingston General Hospital in Southern Ontario
8. Freelance Columnist for Central Newspaper in Oshawa, Canada, Nigerian Canadian Newspapers and Guest Columnist for the Toronto Sun.
9. Member of the Canadian Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) The JUNO AWARDS and a voting member in the 40th JUNOS.
10. Member of the Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globe Awards)
11. Member of the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (NATAS) The Emmy Awards
12. Member of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ)
1997 Maryland's Most Beautiful People (Volunteer of the Year)
1998 America's Volunteers of the Year White House ceremony
Conservative commentator and media expert, Journalist, Publicist, US licensed Pharmacist (3 states), The Black Ann Coulter, The Queen of Jane Street, Toronto, EIC of HipHossip.com, MyYoungToronto Digital mag, Anti-Gun activist, Crime Victim Advocate, Youth Advocate, Author and SNITCH.
Fish Story #1 - Kemi the “Doctor”
In October 2020, I penned an investigative story about Marek Zmyslowski, the Polish tech entrepreneur who has never been short of a word or three about his time in Nigeria. The story established that Marek was a master in the 3-part conman-in-Africa grift - Be suitably foreign; Look like you know what you are doing; and Be a consummate storyteller. Marek I argued, was not simply a “liar.” He was actually more of a storyteller. The difference between a liar and a storyteller in this context, is that while the liar claims that blue is red, the storyteller mixes in the right amount of truth for their narrative to fly painlessly.
Marek for example, would never claim to have worked at say, Deutsche Bank, because it would be too easy to refute such a claim comprehensively. Instead, he claimed to have “founded Jumia Travel.” In reality, he was hired by Jumia as the launch MD of a small travel division called Jovago - which he left acrimoniously 5 months before it was collapsed into the Jumia brand. Clearly, he was not in fact, the “founder of Jumia Travel,” but if you did not know these contextual details, you would easily believe his claims. See the subtlety involved in dishonest storytelling?
Yeah, Kemi does not do that.
Subtlety is not Kemi’s thing. Kemi prefers her dishonesty loud and bold, instead of couched in contextual misdirection. For example, sitting boldly on the Twitter bio of her erstwhile self-promotion brand HNN Africa, sits a loud claim that - for whatever reason - nobody has ever bothered to fact check. “30 years practising as a doctor in the USA” is not intended as a joke or ironic reference of any kind - Kemi openly claims to be a US-trained medical doctor with a 30-year work history.
On her eponymous Instagram handle, she refers to herself as a “Doctor of Pharmacy,” and she uses the prefix “Dr.” unironically and unambiguously. The clear inference is that she has either an MBBS or a PharmD.
In fact on at least one occasion, she openly chided an Instagram follower for not referring to her as “Doctor.” Apparently in addition to the long list of accolades above, Kemi is supposedly a doctorate-level healthcare professional. Naturally, since arriving in Nigeria 9 years ago, she has been able to parade this assumed title around, seemingly without any questions from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
The only way to end this charade would be to get hold of documents confirming Kemi’s actual academic qualifications from source. That is exactly what I did, and the results are below. A downloadable PDF copy of the DegreeVerify document is available here.
It turns out unsurprisingly, that Kemi does not in fact possess any medical qualification other than a BSc in Pharmacy from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. She is lying about being a medical doctor, never mind with “30 years of experience,” and she is also lying about having a PharmD. She in fact graduated with a Bachelors degree and got a job filling orders in a pharmacy. More on that later.
The second loud and unsubtle lie Kemi peddles about her alleged medical pedigree is that she was once apparently a “Member of the Governors Advisory Council of Kingston General Hospital in Southern Ontario.” This is a claim that is regularly repeated and reinforced in the Nigerian blogosphere as content writers copy each other while chasing clicks, without the slightest attempt at a fact check.
On closer inspection, it turns out that this claim is based on her attendance at the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the Kingston General Hospital, proven by a PDF copy of the minutes of the meeting, which is conspicuously linked on her Wikipedia page.
The list in question, it turns out, is actually a list of “Members” of the Kingston General Hospital, and not a list of people on the “Governors Advisory Council”. Kingston General Hospital does not in fact, have any such thing as a “Governors Advisory Council”. What it does have is a Board of Directors, whose professional and academic profiles significantly exceed those of a Pharmacy BSc who filled orders for a living, to say the least.
What Kingston General Hospital also has, is something called the Kingston General Hospital Auxiliary, which is a membership program that anyone can join for free. This membership entitles one to, amongst other things - you guessed it - attendance at the hospital’s annual general meeting.
What this essentially means is that in 2010, Our Lady of Musiwa joined a free hospital program that allowed her to attend a meeting and have her name included on a list that specified that she was a non-voting member. She then took the absolute non-achievement of being part of a volunteer team and rebranded it as heroic and important service on a fictitious “Governors Advisory Council.” This is an example of the quintessential Kemi Olunloyo fish story - loud, brash, bold, completely divorced from reality, and devoid of the slightest hint of shame.
And we’re still only just getting started.
Fish Story #2 - Kemi the “Showbiz Industry Hotshot”
One of Kemi’s most ubiquitous claims is her alleged heft in the music and entertainment industry. Just take a look at the raft of claims below:
Editor and Founder of HipHossip.com (Canada's Leading Music Blog-VH1 & MTV (Canada's Leading Hip-Hop site-BET.com) Former VeeJay MTV Base (MTV Africa). Radio Nigeria on-air music radio personality Premier FM 93.5. Canadian Correspondent BET's "The Deal". Music Reporter, news anchor and Talk show host since 1996 (NBC News, WBAL-TV, V103-FM and Heaven 600AM, Baltimore USA, Premier 93.5FM Ibadan Nigeria) 2008 Presenter Live Urban Award (TIMA) Toronto Independent Music Award/2010 Presenter of Best Alternative Rock.
Member of the Canadian Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) The JUNO AWARDS and a voting member in the 40th JUNOS. Member of the Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globe Awards) Member of the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (NATAS) The Emmy Awards.
Let’s start with HipHossip.com, which she loudly claimed to be “Canada’s Leading Music Blog” according to VH1 and MTV, and “Canada’s Leading Hip-Hop site” according to BET.com. Unsurprisingly, there is zero attribution for those supposed quotes. To anyone with a faint understanding of the industry, it is basically impossible for MTV or BET to have issued such comments about a little-known website with just 7 pages of available Google search results. The site by the way, is currently defunct.
Worse still, of the top 10 search results for this supposed market leading platform, 7 are by blogs and websites run by Kemi herself. This will become quite the recurrent theme as this story progresses, because apart from telling bold lies with the confidence of Cristiano Ronaldo taking a penalty, Kemi has also mastered the art of the artificial echo chamber. Using her dizzying array of blogsites and social media accounts, she successfully controls much of her own online narrative and reinforces the lies she has told in other places.
When writing about her, bloggers and less rigorous journalists of course, find it only too easy to copy the available information which she controls. This is how for the past 9 years, she has got away with having a Wikipedia profile claiming membership of a fictitious “Governors Advisory Council” at Ontario’s Kingston General Hospital. Again, more on that later.
NBC News, WBAL-TV, V103-FM and Heaven 600AM, Baltimore USA did not respond to my request for comment at press time, but there is absolutely zero online or public database record of Kemi Olunloyo “hosting a talk show” on any of these major regional and national US platforms. As you will discover as you go further into this story, she was in fact the subject of a police arrest that these platforms found interesting enough to do a story on. She did not at any point host a talk show on NBC News - she actually was the news. Once. For a few minutes.
That brings us to one of the most pernicious and consistent lies that Kemi tells about her professional background - her alleged past as a music industry high roller. For example, she claims to have been a presenter at the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Toronto Independent Music Awards (TIMA). To the unaware, that might sound like an achievement. Until one does some digging and finds out that this is what TIMA is:
Worse still, it turns out that presenting awards at said TIMA was something one could literally volunteer for. Putting this on your CV as a supposed music industry hotshot would be like using grainy mobile phone footage from a pickup game of street football to try to convince a Premier League club to give one a contract. The same goes for being a “Member of the Canadian Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS)” which oversees The JUNO Awards and being “a voting member in the 40th JUNOS.” Being a “member” of the “prestigious” JUNO Academy in fact, is open to anyone with valid Canadian residency who can pay the princely sum of $75 plus tax. Here, have a look yourself.
As for being a “member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association?” Simply not true. Not now, not at any time. In true Kemi style, that claim was picked completely out of thin air. Oh, and the National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (NATAS) membership linked to The Emmy Awards? Open to anybody willing to pay $125 a year.
It is important to point out how important these deliberate mischaracterisations are to the Kemi myth. She has built a successful grift out of convincing less perceptive Nigerian internet users that she is a well-connected person who is somehow “in the know” about happenings in Nigeria’s entertainment and political spaces. She has pictures with local and international celebrities - Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West among many - so this must mean that she has ties to these people, yes?
It is the picture above that inadvertently gives the game away. The Much Music Video Awards (MMVA) is a well-attended award show that allows people to volunteer. Ordinary members of the public can volunteer to work backstage, where they get to meet with celebrities and sneak the occasional picture like the ones above. In other words, Kemi took these pictures as a fan, not as an associate - but good luck getting her to admit as much.
This story is only about halfway, so go have a stretch and a drink then come back because there is more. There is a lot more.
Such as the little matter of Kemi claiming to have another academic qualification that she does not have. Remember the Instagram and Twitter bios earlier in the story where she claims to be a “PR Specialist”? Well it so happens that on Kemi’s self-curated BizCommunity page, she not only made this claim, but included the name of a prestigious school - Goucher College School of Public Relations - and a 1996 graduation date. This meant that it was possible to fact check this claim. And of course…
So far, that’s “Doctor,” “Doctor of Pharmacy” and “PR Specialist” on Kemi’s Instagram bio that will need changing pronto. By the end of this story, “Investigative Journalist” will join that list too, but we’ll get there. I know you’re wondering - surely there cannot be any more Kemi fiction within this subhead that will top all of this? And the answer is…
In December 2012, just a few months after being deported to Nigeria, Kemi finagled her way into a byline at the Nigerian Tribune, where she proceeded to pen a lengthy ode to herself and her nonexistent media empire. Toward the end of said article, at the point underlined in red, Kemi claimed to have previously “judged or co-hosted” the Grammy Awards. Amazingly, this got past the editor and this article was actually published. You can see an archived copy of it here.
Fish Story #3 - Kemi the “Anti Gun Violence Advocate”
Now I know at this point, it seems pretty clear that the person in question here has a very tenuous relationship with the truth, or even the concept of objective reality. It is important to point out that this may have been the cumulative result of untreated traumatic experiences. Kemi as it turns out, is not stranger to severe trauma.
For starters, there is the relationship with her father, which has always been complicated, to say the least. In this 2015 post, she accused her dad of killing family members in a series of occult rituals. Of course this IS Kemi Olunloyo, so that on its own does not count for very much, but there are deeper reasons that could explain the direction she chose to take in life.
These reasons become clear when one digs into Kemi’s past and pays special attention to the period from 1999 to 2007. I mentioned earlier that she had been in trouble with the law, and it was serious enough to receive coverage on television. For the purpose of not straying into private territory unnecessarily, I will direct the reader to this story by the Toronto Star to get a clearer background on how Kemi left the USA and found herself in Canada.
Cliff Notes: She had domestic problems involving an autistic child and his apparently less-than-supportive father. She got into trouble with the law after threatening a judge. She then jumped bail and fled to Nigeria after submitting her passport by obtaining a passport renewal from the Nigerian embassy in 2006. In 2007, she and 2 of her 3 kids showed up in Canada and claimed asylum. In 2012, after 5 long years of deliberation, the Canadian IRCC deported her to Nigeria.
What this story did not mention is that Kemi already had quite the rap sheet before her 2006 run-in with the law. I got hold of criminal records from Baltimore and Georgia showing her arrest for malicious destruction of property and trespassing on private property, among other things. The full reports are available here and here.
It is no coincidence that almost as soon as she arrived in Canada and found herself immersed in a struggle to strengthen her asylum claim, Kemi found a convenient social cause to jump into - anti gun violence advocacy. According to US government numbers, gun violence claimed 661 lives between 2006 and 2007 in the Atlanta municipal region where Kemi lived before jumping bail. Kemi was not at this time involved in any kind of anti gun crime advocacy. Upon getting to Canada however, Kemi suddenly found this to be her new calling. According to Toronto Police Service numbers, 70 people died of gun violence in 2008.
Coming from Atlanta which had about 9 times the amount of gun violence, the year before, Kemi suddenly realised that gun violence is bad. At this point, she busted out one of her favourite party tricks that you will recognise from her music industry antics - the overstated “volunteer.”
Overnight, Kemi became the loudest advocate against gun violence in all of Toronto. In what was certainly not an obvious and cynical attempt to strengthen her asylum claim by ingratiating herself with local authorities, Kemi anointed herself as the anti gun crime High Priestess of Toronto. The locals were divided. Some, like the journalist below were amused at her pantomime drama routine, but gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Some, like this mother of a gun violence victim did not see the funny side of Kemi’s use of her son’s death to push a clear and obvious personal agenda. Speaking to The Toronto Star, Vesna Cikovic, mother of Boris Cikovic expressed relief when Kemi eventually got deported in 2012.
Even after getting deported from Canada and finding herself growing popular with a Nigerian audience, Kemi would still occasionally carry on performing social media advocacy against gun violence in Toronto. Not even a topic as serious as gun violence however, was serious enough to avoid becoming fodder for yet another one of Kemi’s legendary fish stories.
In the private world of Kemi Olunloyo, nobody and nothing is safe.
Fish Story #4 - Kemi the “Journalist”
Most people reading this story have probably seen the Twitter exchange below between Kemi and Stephanie Busari, CNN Nigeria Bureau Chief.
Kemi is no stranger to telling whoppers, but this quite possibly could be one of the very worst of the lot. If you look at the image at the start of this subhead, you will notice that Kemi included a link to her supposed “CNN Profile.” What you probably do not know is that the link in question does not work, and has been defunct for at least 6 years. Because it is not a byline, and it never was. Kemi Olunloyo in fact, never at any point did any work for CNN.
The supposed “CNN Profile” was in fact, a CNN iReport profile. For those who are not familiar with what CNN iReport was, here is a little explainer below.
In other words, iReport was the mid-2000s equivalent of CNN letting you join its live Instagram video. It was crowdsourced news content before there was Twitter. After there was Twitter, iReport became increasingly less and less relevant, until in 2015, CNN binned it altogether and converted it into the Twitter hashtag “#iReport.” Presenting an iReport profile as a “CNN Profile” would be like winning the annual Lagos Spelling Bee and being “Governor for 1 day”, only to later demand a Lagos State Governor’s pension.
This is key to understanding who or what Kemi Olunloyo is.
The problem is not that she tells lies - it is that she seemingly has no self regulation capacity or process whatsoever to measure or judge what sort of lie is worth telling. Take something as simple as someone’s name for example. Why would this happen?
And then following a quick and humiliating smackdown, refusal to stop digging.
Or take a claim about “being a columnist for the Oshawa Durham Central Newspaper, only for a search on the newspaper’s website to show that you were briefly mentioned in 2 stories, and you have never in fact, done any work for it.
Despite this painfully obvious lack of basic adult self regulation and competence, Kemi has spent the past 9 years eating up swathes of Nigeria’s public space including - increasingly - getting mainstream media coverage. Where it should be obvious that she is a “journalist” the same way a snake is a lizard, Nigerian print and broadcast media have started inviting her on to share her borderline schizoid delusions with a wider audience.
In July, Arise TV apparently forgot the rule about broken clocks, and invited her on to discuss a serious story, as though she were a serious stakeholder with something serious and of value to add to the discourse. Inevitably, she went on and pulled a Kemi - visibly making up stories on air and referencing her imaginary “FBI sources.”
Maybe that is actually the story here - that by simply farting out painfully elementary analysis dressed up as inside knowledge, stealing other people’s content and placing a hashtag on it, making up fish stories on the fly and occasionally proving the broken clock rule, every Tom, Dick and Kemi can become a Nigerian media personality. After all Kemi Olunloyo is now a bona fide public figure, and a number of people actually believe that this heiress of Emperor Ademusiwa is an “investigative journalist.”
As was the case with the Premier of Western Nigeria a decade ago, Kemi has mastered the incredible art of creating and existing inside her very own private universe where she is everything she claims to be. She has even gone a step further and somehow convinced hundreds of thousands of Nigerians - presumably including many smart people - to give her real world attention and social capital in return for colourful fish stories from her private universe.
In that universe - the Kemiverse if you will - she is a Grammy host, an award winning journalist, a PhD Pharmacist or a medical doctor with 30 years of experience, a renowned social advocate, a music industry executive, “the most important woman in Nigeria,” and who knows what else? Justin Trudeau’s secret lover? Owner of a Harry Potter invisibility cloak? Nothing is too much for Kemi. Nothing is too much of a reach. Nothing is too unlikely. Nothing is too shameful.
The rest of us are now supporting characters in one woman’s quest to discover how much power, fame and wealth can be achieved using nothing but a fairly active imagination and an inexhaustible supply of bulletproof audacity. If you can ignore the ethical problems and real danger inherent in handing over increasing amounts of public attention, recognition and social influence to the conceptual offspring of Vic-O and Emperor Ademusiwa, you would almost have to respect the sheer amount of heart it takes to pull off this grift.
Perhaps it really is Kemi’s world after all, and the rest of us are just living in it.