A Conversation with Debra Unogu

I am sitting in a furnished ground floor office with two IKEA office desks, leather chairs and necessary office paraphernalia. Behind me is  the studio where  all the broadcasts take place. Across from me, is Debra Unogu, the CEO of the latest internet radio sensation, AfricaUKRadio, which is based in the business district of Luton, Bedfordshire. The station, already making waves beyond Bedfordshire and the Three Counties is the baby of Debra and her business partner Junior Badila. Debra, looks every inch the successful entrepreneur, as she talks to me about her passion and interest in especially in radio.
She has  a strong background in media  from years of  working with the British Broadcasting Corporation. With her colleague -also from the BBC- Debra took the leap into radio broadcasting. A business woman with many hats, she is also the Creatives Director at Creatives Box Ltd, a multi-media company. Debra is quick to point out that her radio station is not about her herself, but about engaging communities.

How did you get it into radio? I know you have worked for the BBC ?
I  studied media (Television and Radio)  production at the Bedfordshire University.  I started with our local BBC  radio and worked for them till October 2012. When I left the BBC last year, I thought I was going to focus on my online talk show and other projects which I started a little while back, but I met Junior Badila who had university just completed his Media degree. He had this idea for a radio station and the rest is history. The BBC Three Counties Building is just opposite us here. I worked in different capacities as a Production Assistant and  a Producer.
What did you learn from the BBC?
Actually, a lot. I started this because of my experience at the BBC.  With our experience on the BBC, we knew about how things were done and we wanted our radio station to run as professionally as our BBC counterparts.
With so many internet radio stations, what gap are you filling?
Our vision here is that we don’t operate as a black people or a black organisation but as an organisation led with individuals who are talented in what they do and  passionate about executing that  vision. I believe black people should be out there doing what other people are doing regardless of their race.  Working at the BBC opened my eyes to many things and learnt a lot whilst at during the time I was there.  Many people come into this country and do jobs just for the money they get at the end of it, not because of any personal goals. I am very anti- that. I am into radio and soon television because I have a passion for radio .  We have seen the gap, the reason why I m doing this, is that, there are over 2 million of us but not enough black people  in the industry . It is not like we are going to come and take over the UK, it is just that we need to do more for our race. I have had to learn never to give up. My mum has always been there to make sure I become the best I can. We want to have a voice, to do what we love doing such as broadcasting.
Who inspires you?
My mum is my number one. She is a business woman with basic  secondary school education. I have had one of the best upbringing so far. I would say Holly Wayner, a motivational speaker with an amazing story. I have loads of role models, but my mum is number one.  I look at the way she fights for what she believes in. Right now, I am looking to create content for television, I believe I can do it. I will do it.
You must also be a woman of great faith?
Faith and wanting to make a difference. I believe what I am doing  will make a difference. I say to my friends, you didn’t come here to become a nurse or a care assistant.  That’s is not what you left Nigeria to become. Many people complain without investing in their lives. We want to build a legacy with the radio station. It is not a DJ radio station because that is not what we are supposed to be good at.  All the equipment are expensive, but we need to start somewhere.
In five years time, where do you want to be?
We want to be a global radio. We want to be world wide. We are thinking of  AfricaUKRadio, America. When you think of radio station, we want  to be able to have shows in whatever countries that would represent us.  We are looking into Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). FM is very limiting as a traditional means of transmission.  You know, cars give FM an edge but, when you look at new media, everything is going digital. Hence,  why  we are looking to invest in the requisite DAB  technology. Very soon, cars will be fitted with DAB technology.
In terms of costs, are you breaking even?
Some months we break even, other months, we dont.  We are on our first year plan. In the first year, we don’t expect to make profits. 
What’s your message to people in your demographic?
My  message  to young people is to dream, keep dreaming and go for their dreams whatever it is. The story of Richard Parker, the quadriplegic inspires me. Without prosthetic hands, he has become the top designer of  Formula One cars. we all have dreams and there would always be obstacles. The most important thing is to believe in yourself. Don’t allow the past or your tomorrow to determine your present and don’t let your past to stop you from achieving your dreams. Stay focussed and refuse to listen to any voice that contradicts what you want to be.

Tundun Adeyemo
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Outspoken with Tundun Adeyemo! A radio program

Dear friends

Please support me on from Saturday 14th September as my program ‘Outspoken with Tundun Adeyemo’ will be debuted on AfricaUKRadio (http://africaukradio.com/). By support, I mean type the link into your web browser.

Why should you listen?

Firstly, I have a feeling you would like what I am trying to do with the show.  Secondly, it would be nice to brag to the radio owners that I brought in some extra viewing traffic. They wont pay me any extra but its just bragging rights I am hustling for. lol!

What is this program about?

I have taken it for granted that you have not much to pre-occupy you. Forgive me my indulgence. If you would be listening, the program is channeled to give attention to things you care about. I have a rather optimistic feeling, you would love the radio program.

I am also thinking because you are reading this, you care about reading books, poetry (I have a soft spot for romantic poetry)  and conversation (general talk). This is what the radio program will be about:  books, poetry and conversation.

So……

Every week, a guest will be invited to talk about a book they have read, what they thought about the book and why it influenced them.. that sort of thing.

On the same show, a guest would be invited to give his/her perspective on a decided topic. Watch this space for the weekly topic.  If you would like to be a guest on either the Book/poetry segment or the Conversation segment, please email me on Tundun.Adeyemo@gmail.com. Alternatively, send a text to 0790 441 3964. I will call you back (UK only).

If you would like to advertise your event, company, business or sponsor me, please email me or the station on enquiry@africaukradio.com.

I am looking forward to the 14th. Are you? Let’s go!

Every Blessing
Tundun

A Night in Brussels

Last week, I spent in excess of 24 hours in Brussels. I was so mesmerized by the city, its unbelievable. I found the fact that their trains had air conditioning fascinating. The fact that I could take calls, tweet and pretty much act as though I am over ground, impressed me a great deal. The London Underground does not have air conditioning and you cannot use your mobile anywhere in the Tube.

I tweeted enormously on this trip. Have a read on my tweet handle@tundunadeyemo. Its hard not to fall in love with Brussels, the people, their architecture, the twin languages of French and Dutch. I struggled with the Dutch language a great deal, but I loved Brussels sprouts and Belgian chocolate.My paltry knowledge of  the of French language came useful on this trip.

 The hotel I stayed in.. Thorn Hotel EUhttp://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g950780-d2293060-Reviews-Thon_Hotel_EU-Etterbeek_Brussels.html was immaculate.   I observed that -as with most hotels- there was a campaign to lure you to buy movies. They had about 5 American movies to choose from and over 30 porn movies you could buy for 12.50  euros each. For 20 euros though, you could watch unlimited porn or movies. It goes without saying that porn sells and No! I did not take up the unlimited porn or movies offer either. I took some work with me so I just got on with what I had to do. With the tv off. Of course.

  I became 16 again as I hopped on and off the City Sightseeing Bus, falling in love with everything really. That frame of mind saw me chatting up complete strangers to get a sense of their perspective of their city. At the Midi station an Egyptian Ph.d Student who served at the Subway restaurant gave me a free cookie. I was not flirting, but we had an interesting conversation about politics/the lack of it in Egypt. So Ali where ever you are, I cannot find you on facebook, add me!

For all the love I brought back from Brussels, here is the very boring article I wrote about a city that mesmerized me. Needless to say, the next city I am visiting is Rome. Rome is calling me, but air  tickets are rather expensive at the moment. But, the Vatican is calling me. Seriously, I need to get this organised.

Here is that boring article. Hopefully, you will like it.

There are so many places to visit in Europe. Starting with  England, the Lake Districts in Cumbria is England’s open secret. Any one with a thirst or love for history can consider the following places: Dover Castle in Kent,  the Roman Baths, Bath in SouthWest England and  the World Heritage Site of the Neolithic  Stonehenge which is   located near Salisbury in Wiltshire. The Stonehenge  asks a mysterious array of questions. Was Stonehenge  a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps just a huge calendar? Windsor Castle in Berkshire, alongside its surrounding gardens and parks offer to tourists a commanding  exhibition of the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. Every year, Her Majesty, the  Queen takes up residence for a week in June where she attends the service of the Order of the Garter and the Royal Ascot race meeting. These places are in addition to the numerous theme parks, beaches and coasts, festivals, countryside and rural retreats that compete for our patronage in England.
In France, the Euro-Disney Parks is the premier  place to visit when it comes to family entertainment. For more than two decades, France has reigned as the world’s most popular tourist destination, receiving 82 million foreign tourists annually. In France, it is a must to visit France’s second largest seaport city of Marseille.  With amazing views, an array of restaurants, antique shops, shopping malls, museums, galleries and  lots of things to do, Marseille is easily the best place to relax, have a good time and enjoy mingling with the culture, art and taste of this large commercial seaport. Lyon is best known for its gastronomic meals, history and vibrant cultural artefacts.  In fact, much of Europe is the privilege of visiting   ancient preserved relics.   Most buildings have a story to tell.  Imagine if we preserved our colonial heritage or our historical buildings and artefacts as is done in Europe? The unexposed Nigerian  visiting Lyon -used to pounded yam and Banga soup -may struggle with menus that are just too sophisticated to understand.  Cannes has been made popular by the  film festival it hosts and Lourdes is a place for spiritual rejuvenation and restoration. Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is famous for the Marian apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes ( the Immaculate Conception). The City of lights/love, otherwise known as Paris is well known for iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Versailles Palace, Sacre-Coeur and the Notre Damsel Cathedral.
Having been to the Netherlands recently, the writer is in Brussels to consider  amongst other things, the effect or not at all of the recession on the city,its citizens and its immigrants. 
Much of Europe is struggling at the moment with debts and is in a recession.  The euro zone having contracted for the sixth consecutive quarter. Phillipe Waechter of Natixis Asset Management states in a article for the Telegraph in June 2013 that only three of the seventeen euro zone nations- Germany, Austria and Belgium have bigger economies than they did in 2008.
  Brussels hosts several international organisations, this is the one reason why it is a growing economy.  Most of the European institutions as well as the NATO Headquarters are located in Brussels. The  European Union spends at least 6 per cent of its 130billion Euros budget on maintaining its buildings alone in Brussels. In June, Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Union President struck a deal to cut spending by six per cent in 2014. This equates to a savings of nearly 10 billion euros. Cursory investigation shows that the Belgian economy is growing stronger.
According to the Union of International Associations criteria, Brussels is the first Congress city in Europe and second in the world.  Data provided by the International Congress and Convention reveals that Brussels is the 21st congress city in the world. Annually, more than 70,000 meetings and events are organised in Brussels with more than 7 million participants  and congress tourism provides 25,000 jobs. This does answer the question about recession. It simply does not look like a struggling country. Brussels is the sixth most important business city in Europe after  London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Berlin. 75 per cent of business tourism is the result of the presence of the European Institutions in Brussels. In terms of quality of life of expats, Brussels ranks 15th in the world. It is the third richest region in the European Union after London and Luxembourg.
Belgium is one of the founding members of the Europe, its capital city is Brussels. It has a population of 10.7 million people. Belgium is a Federal State divided into three regions: Dutch speaking Flanders in the North, Francophone Wallonia in the South and Brussels, the bilingual capital where Dutch and French share official status. Like Amsterdam, many people in Brussels also speak English albeit with a strong accent. Their rail stations and signals on public routes are in French and Dutch. 
In addition to the fact that Belgium hosts the capital of the EU, it is actually  a small country right in between the Netherlands, France, the UK and Germany.  The Netherlands, France and the UK have large  black communities. There is a small but vibrant Afro
German community. Although,many black people live in Belgium, there is insufficient literature on the Afro-Belgians probably because Belgium is a multi lingual community. The Flemish people speak Dutch and the Francophones speak French. Both sides have their own  black communities: the AfroFlemish and the francophone Afro Belgian. Brussels has large minorities of North Africans ( predominantly) Moroccans, Congolese, Rwandans, Burundians and a growing Nigerian community. Nigeria’s Chika Unigwe lives in a small town in Northern Belgium. (Chika no longer lives in Northern Belgium).
Brussels is a very interesting city, there is clear evidence that they are a diversity neutral nation with the presence of a lot of black people. Unlike in France where the blacks seem subjugated to menial and subservient roles, the blacks in Belgium are upwardly mobile and progressive. Tousif, a Rwandan refugee, who now has his own cab business talks about the neutrality of Brussels and indeed Belgium towards black people.As he drove me to my hotel, he showed me areas which belonged to Cameroonians and of course Nigerians. He told me that Nigerians are very successful business men and women here and that the government has provided the enabling environment for all cultures to integrate and flourish. Tusif fled the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and with thousands other Rwandans.
Brussels does have its own struggles. Not all its residents  are rich, the Brussels region battles high unemployment rates 20.7 per cent and more than 30 per cent  among the under 25 group. A quarter of Brussels residents live under the poverty line. In Brussels, nearly one boy out of five and one out of six,  leave school early.  The specific socio- economic impact of the institutions on Brussels is not easy to determine, as shown by data  provided by the Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis in 2011.
Most Belgians of African origin  live in towns and cities. The biggest concentration can be found in Brussels which has a cultural and commercial black African neighborhood. Paradoxically, even though Africans live here, the area is not impoverished and Africans do not constitute the majority of peoples living there. The  Matonge area is famous for selling African products and services .  Far stronger than Paris and its allure is Brussels, which must be visited again and again.

Tundun Adeyemo
p.s Pictures will come later.

Julius Agwu's 'Crack Ya Ribs' Event in London!!!

Kunle Shonuga from the news website http://www.urnaija.com was at the O2 last night and here is what he has to say about  ‘Crack Ya Ribs’. Enjoy!


Julius Agwu’s ‘Crack Ya Ribs’: Thankfully No Reported Fractured Ribs
When I arrived at the O2 on Friday the 22nd of September, venue of the show, realised that the ticket I bought stated that doors will open at 7pm and did not indicate what time the show will actually start I said a silent prayer wishing that the show would start at some point before midnight.
To start with, the doors opened promptly and ticket holders started going in a few minutes after 7pm. To my surprise, the first act started less than an hour later: a comedian know as “Feso”. I’ll hazard a guess that it’s an attempt to shorten the word, ‘professor’. He went down memory lane and got the show off to a good start telling anecdotes that sound really funny when being told as jokes but maybe not so funny when he was experiencing the situations he can now tell jokes about.
It was not only a night of stand-up comedy. There were rapping/singing/dancing acts as well who were mostly minor acts with the exception of Kcee. He had  the honour of closing the show.

Another notable singer/dancer was KWAM 1’s daughter, going by the moniker, honey B.

Julius Agwu himself entered the stage about an hour and-a-half after doors were opened much to the delight of the audience and he acknowledged the presence of the governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Ameachi, who also found himself at the receiving end of some of his gags. For instance, he took a swipe at the absence of his security details with the kind of humour he probably wouldn’t have got away with if he was a military governor. ‘His Excellency’ was a co-sponsor and a public figure who decided to leave his primary assignment of governing a state to attend a stand-up comedy event in London so he should have known what he was himself in for.
Julius was more of a compere, introducing other performers and slotting in gags between acts. He proved himself to be a natural as his jokes did not come across as rehearsed or forced. For instance, we all know that most African women walk as if they are listening to some music but hearing Julius say it in his own way made it sound even funnier. Perhaps his funniest joke of the night was his take on Nigerians who speak ‘bad English with a foreign accent’. The Ibo man returning from Cameroun had us all in stitches. Hilarious!
The dancing/singing/rapping went on for…, a bit too long as the audience roundly applauded the first main stand-up for the night, Dan D’ humorous. The applause was more out of relief that the comedy part of the show was finally starting.
Dan D’ humorous didn’t fail to deliver. Jokes about Sat Navs and Nigerian roads are always a hit. After him came ‘funny bone’ who took a risk with a terrorist opening line. Fortunately for him, the risk paid off. Nigerian comedians realise that ‘political correctness’ simply kills jokes and there wasn’t much of it on the night.
Also performing was ‘Senator’. His adoration of the governor was heckled by the audience so he switched gears. ‘Things that only happen in Nigeria’ quickly made the heckling crowd forgive him.
David Ogboma (didn’t quite catch his stage name) was another natural. He took swipes at the £3,000 visa bond scheme, terrorism, PDP, ACN, Tontoh Dike and Tuface.
Akpororo’s non-pc jokes about gays were a real hit with a Nigerian audience.
The last comedy act for the night was Eddie Kadi, Congolese born British comedian. Nollywood films and African parents were the two topics at the receiving end of his jokes.
Thankfully, there was no report of any fractured ribs but it was a thoroughly enjoyable night. The only mistake Julius made was asking if the audience liked his outfit. The answer was a unanimous “no, we don’t”! The audience wasn’t feeling his fashion sense.
All the acts were funny even the mediocrity of one or two of the singing/dancing/rapping acts was hilarious. Watch out for the energetic female dancers, gyrating what nature generously endowed them with.
Attendance: let’s just say it depends on whether you’re a half-full or half-empty person. It was the first time ‘crack ya ribs’ will be hosted at the Indigo2, however, so expecting a sell out crowd might be slightly over ambitious.        

Stella Damasus Again!!!

I am not sure how I missed this. But, here it is, an interview given on July 27th to SaharaTV. I love the work of Mr Sowore and his team and he knows that anyway. You have probably watched the interview and your mind is made up on the issue as well. Why am I publishing it here? Child Marriage and any focus on it should stay in the news. It is an evil against women in the Northern part of Nigeria that must be uncovered to be extinguished (if possible). Plus, its my catching up time tonight generally. I am mopping up on issues that concern me.

 I am going to bed after this.  Dont worry, no more videos and teasers. Next time I am here, I must tell you about my recent short break to Holland. I did a write up for TELL already.  Please expect some more juice here. We are off to Paris later today, I am with a party of five.  I am taking my laptop with me so I will  be writing, reading, and generally enjoying myself. Any decent tale form this short break will come later.

I must also tell you about my charity AfricanCarribean Welfare Agency and why I am passionate about it.

I will also make an announcement about my upcoming radio show. A lot is going on!

Ok! Back to Stella and her interview with SaharaTV. Here, please have a listen.

This will send you straight to bed!!!!

I saw Patrick Obahiagbon Channels Interview on Youtube last week and I was shocked  and I could not believe that in 2013, people  (or Mr Obiahiagbon) still speak like this.  How? You must have seen  it already. The English language is complicated enough without the new twists and turns given to it by Mr Obahiagbon. With nearly 160,000 views, this breaks ranks with the calamitious ‘My Oga at the top’ phrase.  No doubt, if you have been counting sheep, this will pleasantly send you to bed.

Ikenne Azubike over at Whats up Africa had this to say. Video below.

The fight back On Immigration has begun.

The actions of the Southall Black Sisters five days ago is no longer news, I needed to highlight it here as the fight back has begun.

Who are they and what did they do?

The Civil Liberties Group Liberty  fought back the attack ads that plagued parts of London last week. Their move is a direct confrontation to the rogue approach of this government and the Home Office to removing illegal immigrants.

Here is a link to what happened in London today.
http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2013/08/06/the-anti-racist-vans-campaigners-fight-back-with-mobile-home

It remains unclear what the leadership of African communities are doing to fight back.

Yemisi Ilesanmi on Homosexuality in Nigeria

I have been reading about Yemisi Ilesanmi tonight.  I saw her on TV recently when she was debating  Seun Kolade on Politricks with Kayode Ogundamisi.

 Yemisi is a passionate advocate for LGBT rights.  Here is her blog:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/yemmynisting/author/yemmynisting/.  Google her name for more information about her work.

Have a listen to an interview she gave to SaharaTV in June 2013.