Tonye Iti-Oriakhi | Nigerian immigrant reconnects with roots by launching online radio station

By CBC News

A Nigerian immigrant to Sudbury has brought a part of her culture to 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 settled in the city, and now works full-time as a social worker. But she always had a passion for media as well.

“I have actually always wanted to do anything related to entertainment, radio, television. Like I always wanted to do that since I was really young,” she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic started, she saw an opportunity to connect with her roots and pursue that passion.

Iti-Oriakhi was already involved with Sudbury’s annual AfroFest, which celebrates African culture in the city. But she wanted to do more.

“And I was thinking, apart from like my normal nine to five work, I still wanted to do something else,” she said.

After a lot of research and hard work, she launched 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 provide the same sense of connection as a radio station with hosts and discussion segments.

She said she now has listeners across Canada, the African continent and the Caribbean. 

She said the web radio station, along with her involvement with AfroFest, has helped her reconnect with her culture and with members of the wider African community in Sudbury and Canada.

Iti-Oriakhi said the experience has also taught her children it’s okay for them to pursue their passions, and they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.

“There’s more to life than just having a nine-to-five job,” she said.

Camille Hernandez-Ramdwar, a professor at Ryerson University specializing in sociology and Caribbean studies, said reconnecting to culture can mean something different for everyone.

“For some people, it’s really important as their identity and they may have felt very lost and they feel this very strong sense that they need to find out who they are and where they came from,” she said.

“For some people, it’s central to their identity and then for other people, it’s just something they’re curious about.”

Tonye Iti-Oriakhi came to Sudbury from Nigeria 12 years ago to study social work. The city’s African community was sparse, so she decided to launch an online radio station to help build and support the community. Kulture Exchange Radio is the product of that drive.  5:43

Read from source CBC