KEVIN UFOEGBUNE - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Creator, Co-Producer and Co-Host of “Flavours of Africa” on Shaw TV
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kevin Ufoegbune is a television producer and host of Canada’s first African cooking and talk show, “Flavours of Africa”. He is also a Youth Leadership Advisory in the Calgary community. Ufoegbune graduated from Carleton University in 2009 and received a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Sociology. Subsequently, he graduated from the University of Calgary (where he received the Jason Lang Scholarship) in June 2013 with a Bachelor of Social Work.
The last born of three children, Ufoegbune won public speaking competitions as a child and then realized his passion for becoming a presenter and social advocate. In 2011, Ufoegbune and his mother Doris Ufoegbune created the television program “Flavours of Africa” with hopes that African cuisine and culture would become relevant in mainstream Canadian society. In 2013, Ufoegbune and his mother appeared on FOX TV to enlighten Americans about African cooking. The show places an emphasis on African tradition, cuisine and culture as well as pressing societal issues and is now in its third season.
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
I was born in Canada and my parents were born and raised in Nigeria. I traveled to their homeland for the first time when I was six months old. I did not visit Nigeria again until the age of 14 and when I did, it was such a culture shock despite the fact that my parents had always taught me about my heritage. I really fell in love with Africa - the people, the food and the cultures and to this day, the connection continues to grow. My mother and I produce the hit show Flavours of Africa on SHAW together and in the future, I would like to utilize my creativity even more as an actor in movies.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
As a Christian, God is foremost in my life. My mother and my father are the two individuals who have motivated me, inspired me and guided me throughout my life. I believe that I am where I am in life because of their direction, devotion and strength. My father is Ugo Ufoegbune, an urban planner and he has motivated me to be the man that I am today simply by being an active role model and thoughtful individual. I personally believe that in today’s world, young black men can benefit immensely from having strong role models in their life and therefore, I am so fortunate to have had a father like him during my childhood. My mother is a well known entrepreneur and TV personality, Doris Ufoegbune who also created, produces and hosts “Flavours of Africa” with me. She has always believed in me when I had my doubts about my own capabilities and it is such gift to be able to create and work on a project together with someone I absolutely love dearly and admire greatly. My mother is very dynamic, self-assured and personable and with these traits, she continues to positively impact my life. Together, my parents instilled in me the importance of education, morality, family, self-esteem and resiliency. I have two older sisters, Nicole Ufoegbune and Tracy Ufoegbune and they continue to motivate me. My sister Nicole Ufoegbune is a senior corporate consultant and has always motivated me by believing in my talent as an entertainer and promoting my use of it, her support is very influential to me as she is a very intelligent and exemplary role model. When I was in high school, she would make sure that she would attend my plays and take pictures of me, often trying to convince me that I had a gift as an entertainer. She was always there to listen, when I wanted to discuss my future plans as a youth. My sister Tracy Ufoegbune is the middle child of the family who despite being so young is a chartered accountant, certified public accountant and a manager within a big four public accounting firm and I’m very proud of her and inspired by her. Through her generous spirit, vivacious personality, brilliance and encouragement, she has also inspired me to be the person I am today. I am also who I am today because of incredible friends, my community and role models who I respect and value.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
As mentioned, I received extensive support and encouragement through my family, friends and community to become the person I am today. I became a producer and host of a hit television show because my mother had believed in my talent and believed in a joint venture between the two of us. Being a person of colour and second generation Canadian propelled me to undertake a career such as social work in order to assist marginalized people in alleviating barriers that prevent them from achieving their aspirations. You can expect for me to have an even greater role in the community and you will see me having an even more active role within the media.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered as a strong voice in the community. I would hope that people remember me as a creative innovator and unique individual with a great sense of humour. Most importantly, I would like to be remembered for being a good person.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
As a community leader, I have been trained to maintain a work-life balance and have an awareness of my own personal needs. I believe that I am very self-aware and well-balanced; and because I am passionate about my profession and what I do, my life is simplified.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie? My favorite book was written by my hero Nelson Mandela and is called “Long Walk to Freedom”. Mandela’s life has inspired me to continue to be a social advocate in the community. My favorite food is homemade pizza and I also enjoy any specialty made my mother as she is such a wonderful culinary artist. My favorite movie is “Pursuit of Happiness” as Will Smith is an immense inspiration to me and is my favorite actor because he is a great role model for many entertainers.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
I am very proud of my African roots as a black person in Canada. My parents who are immigrants worked very hard to give my siblings and myself the opportunities that we have today despite the hardships they faced as newcomers. Many Canadians of different ethnicities, social classes and socio-economic backgrounds have faced challenges in society; however, I can truly say that I am proud to be born in a country that strives for equality, cultural awareness and harmony. The key to resiliency is to know your worth, surround yourself with positive people and keep a positive attitude.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like TD Jakes, Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc.
Canada is an exceptional country that affords people opportunities to develop their talents and empower the community. By keeping a positive attitude, dreaming and working towards your goals, you are able to make a name for yourself.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
Lincoln Alexander who was the lieutenant governor of Ontario and who is also noted for being the “Greatest Hamiltonian of All Time” is one of my favorite Black Canadian Leaders because he is Canada’s first black Member of Parliament. Michaelle Jean is also one of my favorite Black Canadian Leaders due to the fact that as Canada’s first black governor general, she has worked diligently to promote the empowerment of immigrants seeking a new life in Canada. She was a Canadian leader who understood the importance of supporting newcomers in our country. My mother, Doris Ufoegbune is also one of my favorite Black Canadian Leaders because she is a distinct immigrant woman who ventured into the business and media world regardless of the fact that people initially told her that there was no market for her.
Should & do Blacks support / patronize black music, events and businesses?
I believe that Black Canadians should support and patronize businesses that add value to society and respect humanity. There are many black entrepreneurs that are highly professional and work to better our communities and we should support them.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black history in Canada is actually quite dynamic due to the fact that Black Canadians are continually making advancements within our country. Many Black newcomers today come from all parts of the Caribbean Islands and Africa and many of these individuals are unique and skilled, and contribute to the essential multicultural framework of Canada. Immigration has allowed Canadians to benefit from a wider range of products and services and it has also enriched our society and therefore, I would say that black history is constantly being re-created. Stories about Africville remind me of the importance of community solidarity. I am very proud of Canada’s role in the underground railway during slavery and extremely proud to be a second generation Canadian.
Give us a few words from you to an uninspired person?
Loving yourself is the best gift that you can ever give to yourself. When you value and foster your own unique talents, you become a very self-motivated and positive person while remaining on your own path towards your own success. It is important that you celebrate your successes and acknowledge areas for potential growth in your life.