Translator / Community & Media Personality / Organizer, Rogers Television and CHUO 89.1 FM, Ottawa, ON. Born: Kenya.
Trained as a translator, Kenyan-born Sarah Onyango has become a well-known fixture on Ottawa’s community television and radio scene. Sarah hosts the monthly African cultural program Fontonfrom, on Rogers TV Cable 22 – Ottawa as well as the weekly radio programs, Black on Black and Afrika Revisited on CHUO 89.1FM (University of Ottawa community radio). She has also written articles for The Spectrum, Ottawa’s English-language, Black monthly community newspaper.
A tireless promoter of African and Caribbean culture and activities, Sarah has for many years been actively involved in public relations work for various African and Caribbean diplomatic missions as well as community organizations such as, Black History Ottawa, Fête Caribe, the Association of Kenyans in Canada, the Jamaican (Ottawa) Community Association, and the Nigerian Association in Ottawa.
Honours: Volunteer of the Year, Planet Africa (2004); National Heroes Day Award, Entertainment, Jamaican Community Association (2005); Community Builder Award, United Way/Centraide Ottawa (2008); Women of Distinction Award nominee, National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA (2005).
Favourite book? I don’t have one. Any well-written and thought-provoking book by a Black writer from the African diaspora gets my vote. Such as, Lawrence Hill, George Elliott Clarke, Dany Laferrière, Maya Angelou, Richard Wright, Michael Eric Dyson, James Baldwin, Chinua Achebe, Leopold Sedar Senghor, etc.
Favourite quote? “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you have not done yet? Establish an African-Caribbean cultural centre in the National Capital Region [Ottawa], run by our community.
Who inspires you? My parents, grandparents and ancestors, who sacrificed and paved the way for me to enjoy all the opportunities that have enabled me to achieve so much with my life. There are also great champions for peace, justice and equality of our time: Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel, MLK Jr, Wangari Maathai, Carrie Best, Fmr Lt.-Gov. Lincoln Alexander etc. Also, all those artists, celebrities, intellectuals and world leaders who have positively promoted the contributions of the Black diaspora in the media, political, literary, artistic and sports arenas.
Why do you do what you do? My general philosophy of life is a combination of, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’, and ‘To whom much is given, much is expected’. I have never been one to sit back and do nothing when I see an obvious need or problem in the community that must be addressed. Taking the initiative is something my parents always encouraged. I realized that the lack of unity in the Black community I always complained of was perhaps partly due to a lack of awareness of and information about the diverse elements of our community. Since I had privileged access, as a radio host and Black History Ottawa spokesperson, to information regarding events and initiatives by individuals and organizations in the community, I decided I could contribute to ‘building a sense of community’ by using my media and PR skills to share this information with as many people as possible. My efforts also target the mainstream (media and general population), as I believe that educating non-Blacks about the value of Blacks as contributors to Canadian society helps eliminate the harmful stereotypes that marginalize our community.