Rural Community radio broadcasting empowers rural communities
Zimbabwe is promising and in some cases recently granted broadcasting licences to two rural community radio station initiatives and this has opened the airwaves and gave encouragement to other community radio initiatives scattered across Zimbabwe. Most of these community radio initiatives are urban based with a few rural based community radio initiatives breathing sound waves that can open a new trajectory in rural broadcasting sound bytes catch.
Community radio broadcasting is the heartbeat and an agent responsible for rural community development enhanced by the setting up of rural based community radios.
In most rural areas in Zimbabwe there is no newspaper or any form of news outlet that gives a genuine rural community voice.
“ Most of the news we listen to on radio if the radio signal is ‘available ‘ is news to do with distant places in Zimbabwe or in our provinces which is not really related to our lives in a particular area at a particular time. With the advent of freeing the airwaves in rural areas, we at last will listen to our own news and voices, create our own content, own our own radio broadcasting in our own community with our own radio personnel. Silobela community is coming alive as we anticipate to be the next port of call to get a broadcasting license “, said Mostafa Ncube, Sebakwe Silobela Community Radio Initiative Board member.
A ray of hope is filtering toward the deep horizon as some willing organisations are empowering community radio initiatives with much needed training and other logistics in order to capacitate most community radio initiatives, the training is a corner stone and a breather to most rural community radio initiatives that could not get such training as some organisations that purport to stand for community radios are selective in their approach and discriminate against rural community initiatives they might not favor. This divisive approach is suicidal to community radio drive and development in Zimbabwe.
“ It is time to speak with one united voice and advocate collectively not selectively on community radio broadcasting licensing. We should work together with marginalized rural communities and cultivate a sense of unity and urgency on licensing and thrash other limiting factors that suffocate the process of a community radio initiative from getting licensing. Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) stringent bottleneck limiting demands are restrictive especially to rural community radio set up”, said an official from one of the organisations that lobby for licensing of community radios in Zimbabwe.
Rural community broadcasting is the only path that can initiate rural community development through dialogue and unity through the radio voice. Topical issues affecting the community can be tackled through radio. Community debates can spark on developmental issues people might not have open platforms the radio provide.
“ A voice on the radio speaking about development in your area is an authoritative voice that any villager will listen to and regard with high esteem. It must be viewed that radio is the only cheaper way of accessing information and spreading ideas. A family can sit by the radio and listen. Those with cellphones can also ‘ listen ‘ to radio on the phone anywhere, even attending to their house chores, herding cattle or cultivating in their fields. The power of radio can not be underestimated in a rural set up. “, said a Chief in Silobela.
Community radio is also a vehicle for community participation in community development issues and community radio localize developmental issues.
“The relationship between community radio and community development is just like that of Siamese twins, community radio allows and fosters community participation of issues affecting community development which are localized unlike national or provincial radios. Issues affecting the community can be discussed at a local station with full participation of community”, said a Community radio Activist in Harare.