ADELLE ONYANGO: Rising above bullies

Sunday November 30 2014

Radio personality Adelle Onyango who has been a victim of cyber bullying one too many times. She however has been gracious about it, kept her chin up. PHOTO | NATION

Radio personality Adelle Onyango who has been a victim of cyber bullying one too many times. She however has been gracious about it, kept her chin up. PHOTO | NATION 

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You have been a victim of cyber bullying, is there any particular reason people think you are an easy target?

I think I’m an easy target because I respond to everybody who tweets me. Also once you start doing things that get you recognition people feel like they want to shoot you down.

A lot of projects have started coming my way this year and you get a lot more mileage. With this, not everyone will be happy for me obviously.

Moreover, there are people who are bitter and not living their lives and they wonder why you are living yours.

How did the photo of you posing with a monkey make you feel?

The original photo was of me and my boss who is such a cool person. It was cruel.

I also went through really bad cyber bullying in September. I felt someone needed to address the issue because we can’t just keep ignoring it because ignoring it doesn’t mean the problem is not there. Did I feel bad? I don’t know, I’ve had crooked teeth my whole life and I’m okay with them. I dislike dentists so I’m not going there any time soon.

It just made me wonder how much time people have on their hands.

How bad do you think it is in Kenya compared to the states where people have committed suicide because of it?

We have people committing suicide but we just don’t know why, some of the things that are put out there are really horrible. The Internet usage is increasing yet we don’t know how to monitor cyber bullying especially here. It is reckless.

You had an exchange with Robert Alai about the MydressMychoice issue where he insulted you but you were gracious about it, let’s talk about that.

You have to remember that this is the third time I’ve had an issue with Robert Alai as far as gender violence is concerned.

It’s something I’m vocal about; when you start talking about rape recklessly I’ll call you out. I don’t care if you are Uhuru Kenyatta, Obama or mama mboga because it’s not right. Secondly, I think Robert Alai is a disturbed soul.

One minute he is standing up for the policewoman Linda Okello, a couple months down the line he is tweeting how he is on his knees praying that Kileleshwa residents get raped and a few months later he is talking about how he can sponsor people to undress scantily dressed women.

These are like four different persons in one, we are not dealing with the same person, and he basically tries to hit you where he thinks will make you vulnerable, with me he knew that was my late mom.

You released your first song 'Faded', are you releasing any more music any time soon?

It’s funny you should ask, I have a new song that I have recorded that should be coming out hopefully before or by the first week of December. I’m trying to show that you shouldn’t limit yourself to one thing.

Speaking of 'Faded', when was the last time you got faded?

I cannot remember, not because I can’t remember it but because I’ve been doing so much, I now understand people who say there is just no time.

You have quite a lot of piercings, why so many?

I get a lot of heat because of my piercings and tattoos. I think the body is a canvas and you can literally create. It’s not a form of getting attention, if anything I do them for myself, it’s a way for me to express myself artistically with the canvas that I was given.

Do you have any other projects coming up?

I’m working on a television show, that’s all I can say for now.

What is the progress on the “No means No campaign”?

We took a back seat on awareness to focus on free counselling for victims of rape because I believe that’s what saved my life. It’s very expensive and you might not want to go sit across someone, you might want to do it over the phone so that they don’t know you and you don’t feel ashamed, that’s where our focus is now.

Does it still affect you?

Definitely, I don’t think it’s something that will ever stop affecting me; everybody that comes into my life just has to take it with me. But not as much, I feel like this year I’ve gotten to the point where I can decide how it affects me. It doesn’t always have to be negative, it can make you stronger, empathetic and show you what your purpose is, and that’s where I’m at as far as healing is concerned.

Do you think these cyber bullies’ accounts should be shut down?

Oh yes, and not just that, they should be fined and in extreme cases where they tweet that they are going to commit a crime or fund people to commit a crime then they should be treated like criminals.

And what happens to criminals?

They sleep behind bars. They should not be part of hashtags or trending topics.