South Sudan marks sixth anniversary of UNESCO World Radio Day
Photo: Peter Louis
South Sudan radio stations and media stake holders, joined the rest of the world to mark the World Radio Day (WRD) on 13th February 2017. The main event took place at Midan Rainbow football grounds in Juba with a live broadcasting decentralised to different stations through Eye Radio and South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC). The highlight of the event was audience engagement policies – to ensure that all voices are heard in line with this year’s theme “Radio is you”.
A newly established national network, Community Media Network in South Sudan (COMNet-SS) that spearheaded the organisation of the celebrations was also launched during the event. COMNETSS mission is to strengthen community media in South Sudan by sharing best practices and allows collaboration across the network. The network with the current membership of 12 community radio stations strives to support community radios to come up with a model of good governance, accountability and greater community participation in the community broadcasting sector.
Undersecretary at the Ministry of Information, Communication Technologies and Postal Services, Honourable Justine Aler De Mayen who was the keynote speaker said in South Sudan “Radio is Justice, Radio is Freedom and Radio is Equality.”
Hon De Mayen thanked all radio stations in South Sudan for their commitment and for the role they played during the referendum and dissemination of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). “Radio played a very important role in saving lives of many South Sudanese during the past conflicts, it continues to contribute to the development of the country through peace building and reconciliation messages as well as through broadcasting health and education programmes, ” said Hon. De Mayen.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, said radio stations should strive to have the conditions that create great programming. “In addition to entertainment and information – radio stations in South Sudan carry messages of hope and save lives. Radio is uniquely positioned to bring communities together and foster dialogue for a change, as well as to further enhance creative ways to promote freedom of expression, strengthening of social fabric and support to counter hate speech,” said Mr. Alam.
He highlighted that the radio is a force for human rights and dignity and a powerful enabler of solutions to challenges faced by South Sudan society such as conflict, illiteracy and health related issues. He further said media, especially radio which is the most accessible and affordable medium of information in South Sudan should play an important role in the upcoming national dialogue by ensuring that all voices are heard.
Through funding from the Swedish Development Cooperation, European Union and UNDP, UNESCO will continue to provide different platforms such as listeners clubs and forums that are aimed at uniting communities around common issues with the power to hear themselves on airwaves and to have others listen to them.
The Chairperson of Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Mr. Alfred Taban called on radio stations to always tell the truth, balance their stories and be accurate with the information. Mr Taban stressed that “Radio stations have a big role to play to allow real democracy to take root in South Sudan, it can only be done through dialogues and collecting views of the citizens.”
Mr. Taban also urged on the government to allow journalists to balance their stories, to stop arbitrary arrests of journalists and to allow voices of all citizens to be heard.
During the celebration, Ms. Naval Alfred a resident of Juba expressed gratitude about the role Radio has played in her life, “I have been listening to Radio since 1969, and benefited so much from what I heard from radio, I have learnt many health issues, I also get to know the issues happening in my community and country,” stated Ms. Naval.
Radio stations in all the states of South Sudan also celebrated the day in various ways including outside broadcasting and hosting different radio stakeholders to participate in their programs.
Please see below links for reflections of WRD 2017 celebrations in South Sudan.