'Ten Quirky Questions' with Ismaila Alfa

Get to know the Metro Morning host through this quizzical questionnaire

His laugh is always genuine, his sneakers? Limited edition

(Steve Carty)

Our CBC Toronto hosts and reporters are used to asking the tough questions, but now we're putting these journos in the hot seat. Our first guest: Ismaila Alfa. Get to know the Metro Morning host with a few telling questions based on Marcel Proust's famous questionnaire

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being around all of my kids and hearing the sounds of their laughter, conversations about pop culture and even their bickering. 

2. What is your motto?
"It always seems impossible until it is done." 
- Nelson Mandela

3. What is your favourite journey?
When I went to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the most gruelling vacation I've ever taken but also very rewarding. Not just reaching the summit, but the climb itself taught me a lot about myself. 

Ismaila (right) on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with his guide, Wilbard, on the left (submitted by Ismaila Alfa)

4. Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play guitar. Specifically the blues guitar!

5. What is your most treasured possession?
It's a toss up between two items. My Grandfather's pocket knife is one. He was a farmer and used it all the time including when he taught me how to make a willow whistle. The other is my talking drum. Handmade in Ilorin, Nigeria, down the street from my Grandparents' house, it was signed for me by King Sunny Ade (Highlife musician who is like royalty in Nigeria)
Ismaila’s “talking drum” which, by imitating the rhythm and the rise and fall of words in languages, can be used as a communication device. (submitted by Ismaila Alfa)

6. What is your favourite neighbourhood in Toronto or the GTA?
Right now my favourite neighbourhood is where I live in the North end of the Annex in Toronto.

7. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Most of my favourite heroes are real people but as far as fictional heroes, Zorro! He fights for the people, holds those in power accountable, he dresses in black, wears a mask AND an amazing hat and he leaves his mark on all of his work. What's not to like?

8. What is your greatest extravagance?
My shoes. I'm a bit of a sneaker head.
Limited edition sneakers by Vancouver company 'Six Hundred Four'. The company commissioned a piece of art and then had the artist create four sneaker designs inspired by the art. There are 155 sneakers of each design. (submitted by Ismaila Alpha)

9. Which living person do you most admire?
I admire my Dad. He's the smartest man I know but he still enjoys learning and taught me that great teachers also learn from their students.

10. What is your most marked characteristic?
My laugh (lol). It's not difficult to make me laugh but it's never fake.   

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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