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Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Oct 28, 2019

Global Spotlight: Meet our host, Adelle Onyango

by The Moth Staff

Adelle Headshot 1

Meet Adelle Onyango, host of The Moth’s upcoming Mainstage show in Nairobi! Adelle was part of The Moth Global Program’s Gender Equity storytelling workshop in Naivasha, Kenya, last year — and she just told one of her stories at The Moth Mainstage last month in New York City during the UN General Assembly. She’s Moth family! 

Outside of The Moth, Adelle is a Kenyan media personality who has gained international recognition for her efforts to empower Kenyan women and youth. She founded The Adelle Onyango Initiative, an advocacy organization that works to educate the public on issues facing vulnerable populations. Adelle is also the creator of two podcasts: Legally Clueless, which works to create an unapologetically African narrative; and PursePective, which engages people in dynamic conversations about gender equality.

We recently caught up with Adelle to ask her a few questions:

You just told a beautiful story with us at The Moth Mainstage in NYC during UNGA! What was that like for you? 
It was unbelievable! I used to perform poetry on stage in Nairobi, Kenya 10 years ago and I really wanted to get back to performance. So getting back on stage, a decade later, in New York was something straight out of a movie. I was nervous but I loved that I wasn’t telling ‘a’ story, I was telling ‘MY’ story — which is truly powerful. The experience fueled my inner creative quite a bit!”

To hear the story that Adelle told at the show, and to hear her talk more about her experience, check out her “Legally Clueless” podcast episode about it here.

You're hosting our upcoming show in Nairobi on November 12th at the Kenya National Theatre, and last year, you hosted a Moth event at The International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali. What is it like to host a Moth show?
I look at hosting as being the stitches that hold these beautiful ‘story fabrics’ together. Last year in Rwanda was an amazing experience. I loved that in a conference looking at tools and data, the moth stories could show how family planning directly impacts lives. Sometimes we get so lost in data we forget the faces, the stories behind the numbers. This time around I’ll be hosting in my home county of Nairobi so I’m excited about that. Nairobi is bubbling with a creative awakening and I’m sure the Moth Mainstage will really fit right in with the creative hub that Nairobi is.

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Could you tell us a bit about your work with radio and podcasting?
Podcasting is such a happy place for me. I’ve been on traditional radio in Kenya for 10 years and I loved it but I started resenting being locked up in a box for 4 hours and not really having creative control over the content I wanted to create. I believe Africa is really coming of age, art & creativity are at the forefront of this. So I wanted to be part of this and part of adding more voices to the African narrative. This thirst birthed Legally Clueless. This is my weekly podcast where I document my very raw, real human journey that is drenched in clueless-ness. It has a feature called 100 African Stories where different people share stories of something they’ve experienced or witnessed. It’s available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Deezer, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, CastBox and SoundCloud. 

My second podcast is called PursePective. It’s a live audio visual podcast that has men and women in Nairobi speaking on gender issues – from femicide to gender roles. It happens every second month in Nairobi. I think for my country and my people there is a need for us to reevaluate some things we have believed to be truths in a patriarchal system, that are doing more harm than good. You could call it a cultural audit or an audit of this system we live in. PursePective is available on Youtube, Facebook, SoundCloud and Castbox. Tune in!

How does personal storytelling play into your professional life?
Well in podcasting I think the synergies are clear because I have to tell my human journey weekly on Legally Clueless and also I have to help those who come on 100 African Stories zero in on a story they want to tell. I also do a lot of MC-ing and public speaking. People love and connect with stories so well, that even in speeches it makes sense to squeeze one (or two) in!

What's one thing you experienced recently that’s particularly excited you?
Two things! One: at the Moth Mainstage in New York, I was telling a story about my late mum who was my best friend — and then randomly during the intermission, my late mum’s favourite song, Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba played! The second thing was: this month I was honoured as one of the 100 Most Influential Young Africans for 2019! That was exciting and humbling.

Tickets to The Moth Mainstage in Nairobi, on November 12 at the Kenya National Theatre, can be found here. We hope to see you there!

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The Moth’s Global Community Program develops and elevates true, personal stories from extraordinary individuals across Africa and South Asia. By honoring a broad range of experiences, we believe we can challenge dominant narratives, deepen connection, and create a more productive dialogue around the world. Our workshops focus on the craft of personal storytelling, helping participants turn significant life experiences into compelling, impactful stories. Many participants apply their stories to advocacy and change-making work, addressing issues such as HIV/TB and gender equity.

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