The eighth edition of World Radio Day was held on 13 February under the theme: “Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace”. This date every year is proclaimed by UNESCO to celebrate radio broadcasting, improve international cooperation among radio broadcasters and encourage decision-makers to create and provide access to information through radio, including community radios. UNESCO encourages all countries to celebrate this day by undertaking activities and celebrate the impact radio has in pursuing a more peaceful and tolerant world. This year’s theme “Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace” aimed to look on the role of radio as a tool for advocating for dialogue and democratic debate over how to build tolerance amongst different groups in the society through programming of relevant radio content under common goals and causes e.g. education, healthcare, gender equality, etc. and through this contribute to peace, development and peaceful coexistence of the Kenyan society.
Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) ) in partnership with CPS/GIZ, Kenya National Commission (KNATCOM) for UNESCO, delegates from 40 Kenyan community radio and Catholic Radio stations, not forgetting community members from Mukuru kwa Ruben informal settlement, commemorated the event at Ruben Centre in Mukuru kwa Ruben, Nairobi City County. Ruben Centre hosts Ruben FM which is one of the 40 radio stations that participated in the celebrations. Other organizations that graced the occasion included Farm Radio International (FRI) and Site Enterprises. Local leaders including village elders, faith leaders and youth leaders also attended the event and took part in the panel discussions.
WRD 2018 and 2019 choice of venue was informed by the recognition by KCOMNET that community radio outlets plays critical role in championing social change in their areas and acknowledgement that the past events organised to celebrate this very important day have only focused on the mainstream radio outlets hence leaving out this critical third tier of broadcasting and their audiences. February 13 which was the WRD had a lot of interesting and creative activities which included a live plenary panel discussion on the theme of the day with the help of diverse panellists who contributed immensely. Just to highlight a few key discussions; Mr. Tom Mboya, KCOMNET representative: ‘‘we need to admit that people are different in terms of understanding and analyzing information. Each individual has his/her distinct way of thinking. Thus as radio practitioners , we should ensure we do more research on what goes on air, verify this information to make sure its authentic then disseminate the information. This will help to curb fake rumours and news which go on air and can potentially cause divisions “.
Emma – SIF program representative: – ‘‘My advice to community media practitioners , don’t be used as instruments to cause divisions, instead the channel should encourage respect of each other’s opinions and thoughts and encourage the communities to make use of their local structures to enhance tolerance“. Lydia, Bulala FM ‘‘as a journalist, we are proud human rights defenders and advocates for peace, let’s keep up the good work‘‘. These and much more were encouraging messages from the panellists. This session was broadcast live by Ruben Fm.
There were also childrens’ drawing and colouring activities on what they understand on the issue of peace. They were guided by their art club teacher Christopher who also did a wall painting to symbolize world radio day and the theme of the year. Some of his drawings and painting included; the famous hand-shake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Hon. Raila Odinga which signifies reconciliation and some form of peace in the country; a radio – which was being celebrated for its milestone as a medium that has and continues to be used for propagating “Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace “ in our societies and finally; a drawing of people in a community attending a dialogue meeting to be effective multipliers of peaceful co-existence in their communities. All these were to illustrate the theme of the day using art.
Ghetto classics an orchestra music club and community program which works with school children one of them being children from Ruben Centre school entertained participants with about three classical music pieces that had been carefully selected to suit the theme of our day. In the afternoon session, there were competitions from spoken word artists, musicians and rappers from Mukuru settlement who were tasked to prepare content related to the theme of the day. A total of 15 artists performed to the audience and the same audience voted for the three best performances in each category. Voting was based on the messages from the diverse artistic expressions and how entertaining one was on the stage. This was an engaging activity to promote peace messages in an artistic way for the community.
What better way to celebrate the milestones of radio’s involvement in peace building!
The resolve and strategy of KCOMNET and the partner community radio stations is to celebrate WRD in the locations of community radio stations involving the radio station teams and their audiences. Fast forward to WRD 2020!