Why a World Radio Day? Two African Journalists Explain in Their Own Voices
Can radio really make a difference?
In the U.S., we think of Billboard’s Top 40 or ESPN Sports when we talk about radio. We forget that in countries where the literacy rate is low and people cannot afford TVs that radio is the main form of public communication and entertainment. Search knows the impact radio has in people’s lives, and that’s why we started the Radio for Peacebuilding Africa program. RFPA works to increase the knowledge and skills of radio broadcasters and improve the communication flow between policy makers, civil society members, and radio broadcasters.
Also recognizing radio’s potential and importance, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 13 February as World Radio Day. UNESCO encourages all countries to celebrate World Radio Day, providing radio stations free resources and messages about the importance of radio from celebrated radio personalities. Among these are two of the winners of the 2012 Radio for Peacebuilding Africa Competition: Umaru Sanda and Ms Hortence Iradukunda, as well as several other journalists Search partners with.
Umaru and Ms Hortence want to tell you in their own voice how radio has made a difference in their communities and why they celebrate World Radio Day:
Listen to Radio, My Dream by Umaru (in English)
Hi! My name is Umaru Sanda Amadu and I am a journalist with City FM in Accra, Ghana. I am the winner of the Jury’s Special Prize Category of the 2012 Radio for Peacebuilding Africa Awards, organized by Search for Common Ground. To me, radio is the best thing that has happened to humanity. I grew up in a small village not too far from Accra, the national capital of Ghana. I always carried around my own radio set, hoping that one day I would also speak on one. It gave me information about happenings in the country that I could tell to my illiterate family members and other illiterate members of my village. Many years on, my dream became reality and I now find myself almost every day behind powerful microphones in Accra. Here, I have tackled serious issues of national concern. Most important to me, recently, was a story I did to give a voice to the mainly nomadic Fulani ethnic group, which is on the verge of a conflict with crop farmers in the country. The group felt it was misrepresented in the media. My documentary brought the issue into the fore, necessitating reactions from members of society, as well as, security experts who called for urgent action to avoid conflict. My respect for radio increased when I realized that many people call our station’s hotlines with complaints that lead us to collect information for criminal cases. That shows the confidence Ghanaians have in radio and the purpose it serves. As we mark World Radio Day, it is my belief and hope that a pause button on this phenomenon will never be pressed. Long Live Radio! Long Live Broadcast Journalism – and peace to all!
Listen to World Radio Day by Ms. Hortence (in French)
My name is Hortense Iradukunda, and I am a producer at Radio Isanganiro in Burundi. I am the winner of the 2012 Radio for Peacebuilding Africa Awards in the Gender Category. Radio has changed my life, as well as the lives of my audience members. In 2007, when I started working in radio, I had no idea about what was happening in other countries. There were many things I was unaware of and, at the beginning, I just did radio to do something. It took me some time to realize that the problems Burundi’s population faces are my concerns as well. I can give you an example: I produce a weekly show that generally focuses on human rights and, specifically, on women’s rights. When I started this show, I told myself this is how it should be done: I go out to the field, I report what has happened, and the show airs on the radio. But, in fact, I realized that these women should speak up and the reports should include their voices. This is how I learned about the actual problems and began to understand how I could help solve them. So, the radio is my tool to help solve issues, such as, human rights, women’s rights in Burundi, and other areas. I am really proud because I’ve seen many things change in my country since my shows first aired. That gives me great pleasure – it means that I can contribute to changing things in my country. In addition, when it comes to the audience, we receive calls after the show from people who were not aware of certain issues, from others who learned something, from women who learned about their rights, etc. This shows us that there are listeners who benefit from our shows. Therefore, radio greatly contributes to change, both in terms of the journalists who prepare the shows and the audience that listens to them.
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