Nigerian immigrant reconnects with his roots by launching an online radio
A Nigerian immigrant to Sudbury has brought some of her culture into her adopted home with an online radio station called Kulture Exchange Radio.
Tonye Iti-Oriakhi moved to Sudbury 12 years ago to study social work. She moved to town and now works full time as a social worker. But she always had a passion for the media too.
“Actually, I’ve always wanted to do something related to entertainment, radio, television. Like I’ve always wanted to do that since I was very young,” she said.
After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, she saw an opportunity to connect with her roots and pursue that passion.
Iti-Oriakhi was previously involved with Sudbury’s annual AfroFest, which celebrates African culture in the city. But she wanted to do more.
“And I thought, aside from my normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, I always wanted to do something else,” she said.
After much research and hard work, she started an online radio station that plays the afrobeat music she grew up listening to in Nigeria.
Iti-Oriakhi said that while many people listen to Afrobeat on streaming services like Spotify, they don’t offer the same sense of connection that a radio station does with hosts and talk segments.
She said she now has listeners across Canada, the African continent and the Caribbean.
She said the web radio station, as well as her involvement with AfroFest, helped her reconnect with her culture and with members of the wider African community in Sudbury and Canada.
Iti-Oriakhi said the experience also taught her children that it was okay for them to pursue their passions and that they could achieve anything they wanted.
“There’s more to life than having a nine-to-five job,” she said.
Camille Hernandez-Ramdwar, a Ryerson University professor specializing in sociology and Caribbean studies, said reconnecting with culture can mean something different to everyone.
“For some people it’s really important because their identity and they may have felt very lost and they have this very strong feeling that they need to know who they are and where they come from,” said- she declared.
“For some people it’s central to who they are and for others it’s just something they’re interested in.”