Adelle Onyango: Silence is an injustice to ourselves

Tuesday October 24 2017

Adelle Onyango's late mother, Mary Onyango,

Adelle Onyango's late mother, Mary Onyango, spearheaded Breast Cancer Awareness in Kenya at a time when it was taboo to say one had cancer. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Adelle Onyango's late mother, Mary Onyango, spearheaded Breast Cancer Awareness in Kenya at a time when it was taboo to say one had cancer.

"I learnt how to own my experiences and never let them take away my power," Adelle says of her role model. Adelle, who is a radio presenter with Kiss FM, was recently named one of the

BBC 100 Women 2017.

An unsurprising feat, given that she is passionate about empowering women and restoring their dignity through her campaigns such No Means No, ProjectShe and most recently Team Adelle.

She is popular on radio for discussing contemporary issues especially those regarding women. She recently shared with her experience and hopes:

What was your first reaction on receiving the news that you had been named among BBC’s 100 women? Is it something you anticipated?

I was shocked. At first, I thought it was a prank but afterwards I was extremely humbled and challenged to do more for my country and continent.

What does this mean to you as a woman who in the past has been an avid campaigner for women empowerment?

In all the entities I have created from No Means No to the Sisterhood series, ProjectShe and Team Adelle, my experience is what drives me. The things I have gone through that I don’t want others to have to go through. So I want to start conversations that help erase rape culture. Surviving rape made me very aware that there are elements in our culture that promote rape culture. I want involvement from men and women in these conversations to stop it.

What has inspired your numerous campaigns for women empowerment?

The desire to see more women share stories of their challenges. It really empowers other women who are facing the same dilemmas. Secondly, I feel that men need to celebrate, respect and be inspired by women in the society. I believe that way; we can begin to effectively define the importance of women in society.


In this year’s BBC 100 Women Challenge, you will be tasked with finding real-life solutions to four main issues facing women today; the glass ceiling, female illiteracy, harassment on public transport and sexism in sports.  Which of these challenges particularly resonate with a personal life experience?

As a rape survivor, I can relate totally with harassment on public transport. Sexual assault on public transport is a problem and needs to be addressed. I don’t want people- men or women- to ever experience that.

As an empowered woman, are there particular issues hindering women empowerment in Kenya that you would like to highlight during this year’s BBC 100 Women Challenge?

Yes! Some of these traditionally accepted norms end up not only limiting women but also being used to excuse violence against women. This complacency, is what I will be articulating and seeking real-life solutions to.

What’s your life mantra?

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”- Desmond Tutu

What’s your word of advice to young women in Kenya?

Ladies, you have the right and responsibility to change what you see as wrong in society-to make things better for those coming after us. Silence is an injustice to ourselves.


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