Whether shutting down haters or speaking out against social injustices, radio queen, Adelle Onyango, keeps it real. She was recently named among BBC’s Top 100 Most Popular Women and appointed the ambassador for the African Girl Foundation, writes
What does it mean for you to be part of BBC’s Top 100 Most Popular Women in the world?
It means I’m on the right track on my journey to purpose. It also means that I’ll be part of a challenge to change the world in a week.
What do you intend to do with the platform they have accorded you?
Spearhead conversations around street culture and the things we’ve normalised that actually uphold rape culture. I feel positively challenged because anything I do after this has got to be just as impactful as this or more.
The real life issues you will be pushing are around what theme?
Street harassment. Which is important to me because in creating rape awareness, I found this madness called rape culture. And we have normalised so many forms of harassments that we need to have these conversations to start creating a mind shift and building a more conscious society.
Why do you think you were chosen as part of BBC’s 100?
Because I’ve been true to my journey, passion and purpose. Under all that, I think it’s the drive to just use what I have to change the world. That’s the message — not that some women are better than others. It’s that we need all to use what we have and start to change the society, the world.
What projects are you working on this year?
Oh I’m excited because I’ll be unleashing three other series after the success of Adelle On The Loose Season One. AdelleTV and TeamAdelle’s Apprenticeship programme is about to go live after an amazing partnership with Centonomy, where members won scholarships.
You have also been appointed ambassador for African Girl Foundation. What role will you be playing?
I’ll be on the board and helping come up with the route map to ensuring girls in Kenya get access to reusable sanitary towels.
Could you talk to us more about that.
The African Girl Foundation was founded by siblings Rajeev and Riya Sharma. They are firm believers in the power of education to eradicate poverty in Africa, particularly for women. It came to their attention that a domestic worker was routinely and mysteriously missing work.
When asked about her absence, she revealed an embarrassing truth: she simply couldn’t afford disposable sanitary pads. So, we provide underprivileged girls with a reusable and effective sanitary kit that will keep them in school and in the workplace without the stigma that accompanies menstruation. This is not a quick fix – it is a sustainable solution to furthering the progress of the African girl child.
Any success stories you can share?
Many girls have been reached so far in schools in Nairobi and Nakuru. However, what is key for me is getting students from schools and families to own the responsibility of giving back and raise funds for other Kenyan girls from underprivileged backgrounds. The sister-to-sister arm of the whole foundation has really been a success.
What needs to be done to alleviate the problems of lack of sanitary pads hence increasing school dropout rates?
I think sanitary towels are a basic need for any girl and it should be availed free of charge! Surely, if we can rally up support and be able to give reusable sanitary pad kits for free, shouldn’t the government be able to?
How will you use your influence to change this?
I think solutions start with conversations. I want to spark conversations on it, get as many people and organisations to support us and also lobby for policy changes.
Let’s talk family: Why did you make your wedding such a low-key event?
Because it wasn’t a concert. Hahaa… Marriage and love are intimate experiences that should be celebrated by those who understand, respect and genuinely celebrate the couple. Not a showcase or opportunity to floss to the whole world. It’s deep.
Over the weekend, a controversial blogger instigated an attack against you for speaking out about the rape culture. And while you had the backing of 254, cyber bullying has become a constant in a lot of celebrity lives. Do you think if you weren’t a celebrity you wouldn’t have faced such?
Well, most trolls are hurting and angry that you’re doing things that they are too fearful to do. So, I think it will and can happen to anyone who is living their best life.
Do you miss the days when you were not a celeb?
I’m not a celebrity even now! Just a Kenyan girl trying to find her purpose.