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#AfricaMonthTalks: Kenyan Creative Adelle Onyango On African Identity, Urban Culture And The Digital Era

Kenyan media personality, Adelle Onyango shares her views on our second edition of #AfricaMonthTalks themed, African Identity Meets Urban Culture in the Digital Era. 
Adelle is an actress, radio/television presenter, musician, poet and rape awareness activist. She's the founder of social awareness campaigns, PROJECT SHE and NO MEANS NO and an all-round digital enthusiast.  

What's your current state of mind about Africa?
I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for my continent. I think right now the rest of the world is all of a sudden realizing the depth in Africa's culture, but I’ve known it all along so the love is still there and strong.

What does it mean to live in a global village with access to technology?
It means to me, that opportunities become more accessible. Opportunities to gain knowledge, to be financially empowered, to connect with other like minded individuals. The opportunities connectivity bring are so vast. That’s why I am proud to be the Intel She Will Connect Kenyan Ambassador because what we do is train Kenyan women on how to use the internet to empower themselves.

How do you maintain your African identity in the urban sphere?
Being African isn’t a hat I can wear and take off whenever. It’s inborn. So I don’t have to maintain it – as long as I am genuine and true to myself in all spheres and environments, then I am being African.
Many people think that Africa should have one unique identity. I think the essence of the African Identity is in its diversity.
How are you using social media currency to impact not only your personal life but YOUR Africa?
Well, I mentioned working with Intel to connect Kenyan women so online I use my platforms to sensitize people on the digital gender gap. Not many people know that in Sub Saharan Africa there are 43% fewer women than men online. I also use the internet to run two projects I founded – One being NO MEANS NO a rape awareness foundation that gives rape survivors free therapy and PROJECT SHE that gathers stories of conquest from women around the globe and shares them to inspire other women.

What's your interpretation of Africa Rising?
Africa rising means that more people are seeing us as the force we’ve always been but more importantly WE are seeing ourselves as the force we’ve always been. I believe it also means that there is a greater sense of unity amongst us as we can only rise together!

Your views on the state of African Identity?
Many people think that Africa should have one unique identity. I think the essence of the African Identity is in its diversity. Our identity was challenged by many other cultures. Right now I feel like we’ve made other cultures mix in our identity to make it more recent and that’s perfectly fine. The essence is the same even though the channels we express our identity have evolved.

Your views on freedom in the digital era we live in
With freedom comes responsibility – my late mother always sang that to me. In the digital space that’s true too. The digital space makes it easier to champion for change, to communicate etc. It also makes it easier for bullying unfortunately. There has been mismanaged freedom in the digital space that results in cyber bullying. Many African countries have increased policies to govern and manage this. We must join the digital transformation – we must be free to do so but we must be responsible in how we do so.

.... and how do you ensure your VOICE is heard in the digital space?
Well I have put a lot of work to getting to the point where I have a great influence online and I use my platforms to push an African transformative agenda but I also use my radio show which is always translated to digital platforms, to ensure I stand tall in speaking on African matters in a digital space.

What does Africa Day (25th May) mean to you?
It means that we stop and appreciate the battles fought in the past to grant us the freedom we have today and it means we have to take up the challenge to make Africa better than we found it, better for tomorrow.

Generations before us fought for our liberation. What do you think is our fight as African youth?
African youth want opportunities. It all comes down to that. The digital space makes these opportunities more accessible so they fight for a greater digital presence. But they also fight to be given a chance to set policies in Africa and own leadership positions. African youth, we are aware of what we want to change in our continent. We want to be the leaders of today, not tomorrow.

What makes you proudly African?
Just being African. It’s an inexplicable deep feeling when I think of my roots, where we came from and all we have achieved to date. We have such a rich identity and story – how can I not be proud of that?

Your dream for Africa?
My dream is for Africa to be self-reliant. We have the power to be and I would love to be alive to see the day we achieve complete self reliance.

How would you like to be remembered?

This is a tough one because I’m always conscious of the legacy I’m writing. I want to be remembered as the Kenyan lady who reminded young Africans, that it was OK for them to own the process of defining themselves and their expectations. Reminded them that it was OK for them to BE.

Engage with Adelle on the following platforms:

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter: Adelle Onyango
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