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In The Cottage With: Adelle Onyango - Beauty for ashes and surviving rape

By Yvonne Aoll | Wednesday, Jun 8th 2016 at 11:44
Adelle Onyango during the interview

Radio presenter Adelle Onyango confirms our meet-up a few hours before the set time. It’s sudden but she apologizes, she was meant to travel, but had to cancel at the very last minute, and thought she’d instead make time for the interview.

The United States International University – Africa alumni shows up at The Carnivore’s Dormans in her tall, slender frame, donning a very bright smile and saying hello to everyone who’s on her way, all the waiters included.

As we settle down for the interview, she looks at the monkeys surrounding us and tells a story about being on a trip once and the tour guide warning them that monkeys aren’t very polite towards women.

In light of this warning, Adelle, 27, panics every time a monkey approaches our table, and laughs, as she proves her point, every time they see the photographer and dash away. It’s a hilarious sight, one that softens the mood before I ask Adelle some very deep questions, involving her rape.

The incident has been covered several times since she first revealed that she’s a rape survivor, and as I ask the questions, I hope she’s isn’t too tired or bored of repeating herself. But the contrary happens, Adelle politely yet confidently answers my questions and narrates the story as though she’s telling it for the very first time.

Adelle answers the questions according to what her journey has been like, and she doesn’t sugarcoat responses, she doesn’t try to tell me what she thinks I want to hear. For instance, when I ask her about forgiveness, Adelle is forthright in saying that she doesn’t believe forgiving her attacker is possible, and that it’s not her place to worry about him.

Rape is a delicate subject to navigate, but Kiss Fm’s Adelle handles it with admirable bravado and stride, even as she tells me about how she got into radio, the man she’s dating and the things she’s learnt from experience.

***

Adelle, why Radio?

(Laughs) Well, I didn’t choose radio, radio chose me. I had a double major in Journalism and Psychology while at university. And in Journalism, my concentration was Public Relations, I was so sure PR was what I wanted to do, but then, as with many things, life surprises you.

How’s that?

In my final year at USIU-A, they started the university radio. The radios hosts invited me to the station as a guest to share my poetry, but the co-host of the show didn’t come, and they ended up giving me the whole show.

Afterwards, they kept inviting me to the show, the host really wanted to get into radio, and as a result, started sending the recorded audios out to commercial stations. Then One Fm came about, and they’d apparently heard of me (I had no idea my work was being sent out), we met, talked, and that’s how it all began.

And just like that, your career took off…

Yes, just like that. (Laughs) Radio chose me.

Are you enjoying it so far?

I am. I really am. There’s the technical aspect of radio which I find very engaging and interesting. It’s the reason I prefer radio to television; with radio I get to produce my show, generate content, edit everything, I’m in full control of the show. With TV, you don’t have that. I find it very exciting.

Is there anything else you find exciting about being on radio?

The fact that I can go to work in my pajamas. (Laughs)

Is the fame that comes with radio that exciting?

I think that comes with your personality. I keep being told at work, how so many people in the public know me, and then I have others who always ask why I’m being so modest. But, I’m not being modest, I’m not going out of my way to be humble, it’s just that I don’t want to get sucked into all that. I’m not in the business for fame, I’m really not.

So how do you deal with your fans?

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