Mohamed Bonkoungou: The grand Diasporan
Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 5:27 p.m.
"I am a good Diasporan," smiles Mohamed Bonkoungou, who works in Harlem, lives in the Bronx but was born in the Ivory Coast in 1973. With family also in Burkina Faso, the chef, radio DJ and community activist has big plans to inform and unite the global community.
He goes by the name of DJ Momo and hosts a magazine radio show on WHCR 90.3FM every Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. More than just hip-hop, R&B and music from the Continent, Bonkoungou's "News and Views from Africa" also brings current news and interviews from all over Africa.
"If you're proud of your nationality, we have to do our best to represent and to unite with each other," Bonkoungou told the Amsterdam News. "We have to do our best and try and bring change to things back home, so that where there needs to be improvement we can make it happen, and wherever there is corruption, we can end that too. There is not always enough done to really help Africa at a real on-the-ground level.
"There are the wars where some women are raped; where some children have lost their parents - we can be more united to do our best things to change for them."
A chef by day in Manna's restaurant on Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Harlem, with 10 years on the radio, Bonkoungou the activist wants Africans in the Diaspora and continental Africans to forge a deep and lasting bond.
The news stories of divisions are greatly exaggerated, Bonkoungou insists. "In the U.S., we can have a great relationship where we have one office to represent both African-Americans and Africans. So many of our issues are the same, but we find ourselves in different places for the same thing. We all want unity."
Bonkoungou said that he has traveled to four or five countries in Africa, including Burkina Faso, "where my grandparents are from. I went to Ghana for vacation, and to Mali, to Togo and to Benin."
The man speaks French, English, Mandingo and Moree.
"I came to the U.S. as a cook for the Burkina Faso embassy in New York," said Bonkoungou. "I left there for school and I began studying broadcast journalism in Pennsylvania."
He said he's now at City College studying broadcast journalism.
"I do it because I like it, and in the future I want to give the people information about education and subjects that they cannot hear anywhere else," Bonkoungou said.
As for his own radio show, proudly he beamed, he does just that now and "we also have a call-in section to discuss life topics, issues that people are concerned with, especially what's going on with the African continent. We broadcast in French and English. We receive the information and we create the questions.
"We discuss issues such as immigration. It's all about education and how you can help yourself with whatever you know is wrong. You can let the listeners hear and they can learn how to fix any problem. Not so much on domestic problems--not so much on air," Bonkoungou edited himself, "because people can get excited, so we have to find a way to calm them down...it's too much sometimes!"