I hear about sexual abuse through my project with young girls —Ronke Giwa-Onafuwa, broadcaster, TalkMummy coordinator
Ronke Giwa-Onafuwa is a broadcaster at Splash FM, TalkMummy show convener and organiser of Who’s That Girl project, which she uses to connect with young girls. She is also an events compere/MC. In this interview by KINGSLEY ALUMONA, she speaks about why she decided to go into broadcasting business, and how competition and the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting the business, about her intolerance towards rape and domestic violence, and what she would do if she were given a billion naira.
You have a university degree in English and Literature. Why did you decide to go into broadcasting?
To be honest, I’ve always been natural at broadcasting. I recall being the chatty child and leading any time we were playing or pretending to be news casting. I didn’t know it was something I could do for a living. After studying English, and still being confused as to what I really wanted to do, broadcasting found me when I came to Ibadan for my NYSC.
You have a music production and performance certificate from London Centre of Contemporary Music. In what ways do you apply this music knowledge?
I’ve always loved and been great at singing. I joined the church choir at 13. After I moved to the United Kingdom, I was also one of the choir leaders at the time. It was whilst I was busy serving in the choir that I decided to study music so I could gain more knowledge of this art that I loved so much. I don’t really sing much now (I’m sure to the disappointment of my music instructors as they thought I would be a star.) But I sing in the bathroom, to my children, etc. Plus, there were many voice techniques I learnt in school that I’ve found to be very useful now as a broadcaster.
How long have you been with Splash FM, and what is the experience so far?
I’ve been with Splash FM for almost 12 years now, and it has been such an amazing experience for me. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster but I make sure I never stop learning or feel like I’ve arrived. I’m constantly learning and seeking ways to evolve because times are changing and it’s important to grow with the times.
There are many radio stations in Ibadan. How does Splash FM blaze the harsh competitions?
Splash FM used to be the only private radio station when I joined them. But, in recent times, we’ve seen the rise of many others. Whilst some people have constantly asked if I’m worried about the competition, I responded and still insisted that it actually excited me. I’ve always been competitive especially when it comes to things I’m great at. Plus I’m relatively secure in myself and my talent, so I’m never afraid of more people coming into the industry. Imagine playing without an opponent. That’s so boring. The competition has helped the station too in that we haven’t folded our arms and we continue to evolve and rejig our contents so that we compete favourably and also continue to give the people of Oyo State what they want.
Briefly tell us about your Splash FM TalkMummy show.
TalkMummy is actually a private project that was born out of my motherhood experience. After having a baby, I wanted to make available a community that other new mums can find support from. I started on Instagram @TalkMummy by creating a page with content just for mums and now we have over 600 women. If not for COVID-19, we have a yearly Talk Mummy outing for mums where they get to relax, learn and network.
Most people believe that journalists and media houses are increasingly becoming endangered species in this administration. What is your take on this?
I don’t think that’s possible. In fact, we’ve more radio stations now than ever before. We’ll always need, and have journalists and media houses. The only thing is that everyone with an android phone is now a journalist and can break news which is terrifying sometimes. Broadcast houses definitely need to do better in many ways. But, if we continue to strive to be better, then people will always come to us when they need accurate information.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every sector of the economy and business. In what way is it affecting your work?
COVID-19 has affected everyone and everything, and this does not exclude the broadcast industry. Media stations thrive on adverts and no one is advertising that much because people aren’t buying. I usually MC events, but no one is having events for now because of the pandemic. So, everyone and I in the events industry are affected by COVID-19. I’m improvising by taking advantage of technology, focusing on the things that don’t require human contact—like trying to finish my book, recording YouTube videos etc. And even though life, as we knew it, has changed, there are still so many opportunities available.
Briefly tell us about the book you are writing.
I’m passionate about girls. So, I’ve always wanted to write books for girls, both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve been working on that and can’t wait to share the news once I’m done.
Early this March, you were in a conference panel that advocated for a sexual referral centre in Oyo State, and you said anger towards sexual abuse/violence is one way people could key into the fight against these vices. Could you briefly explain this?
Absolutely! You can’t change a situation if you’re not angry about it. If you’re okay with an issue, there’s a likelihood that it’ll remain that way. Even though we must do more than get angry about rape and other kinds of abuse of women and girls, we must never be okay or desensitised to it. It shouldn’t be okay because it hasn’t happened to you or to someone you know. It’s a culture, and will take a lot to stamp it out. But, it can be done. We can start by not tolerating jokes about rape or aiding and abetting or covering rape even if it’s someone we consider a good friend.
If in your TalkMummy show someone tells you they were sexually abused, what would be your first reason?
I hear a lot about sexual abuse through my other private project (Who’s That Girl) which I put together to connect with young girls. Every time we ask for questions, we get a note from someone saying they have been abused and what should they do. I always start by empathising. It’s sad to hear of. I never judge. I ask them to seek help, talk to someone. I point them in the direction of NGOs I know that are great at handling cases of abuse.
You won the Nigerian Broadcasting Award for Most Popular Radio Personality (Southwest Zone). What does the award mean to you?
I always feel honoured to be nominated for awards and then to win. It’s a great compliment. On the other hand, I’m just grateful to be doing something I enjoy. So, I try not to get my validation from awards.
Apart from Splash FM, what other endeavours demand your time? And, in this pandemic period, if you were given a billion naira, what would you do with it, and why?
I’m such a huge family girl. So, I spend a lot of time with my family. I also spend time developing content. If I got a billion naira right now, it would go into investments first whilst some will be spent investing in my family’s future and then the rest on executing some of the ideas I have.
What do you like doing at your leisure? If you were to go on a tour in a foreign country, which country would that be, and why?
I love to read and to travel. Dubai is my favorite city and would go every year if I could. Dubai is just amazing, so exotic, so much fun. And as I love shopping, it feeds that part of me really well.
What advice do you have for young people, especially the female ones, who are aspiring to be like you?
My advice is always to be your authentic self and to enjoin women to stop feeding the narrative that continues to divide us. Women do support women—and the women who don’t should start to do so. We’re stronger together, and the precedent we set will affect girls that are coming after us. So, we need to do better and see ourselves as ambassadors for the next generation of women.
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