'Radio brings immense benefits'

'Radio brings immense benefits'
Published: 14 February 2017 (259 Views)
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe addresses guests during commemorations to mark World Radio Day at Takashinga Cricket Club in Highfield yesterday

Speech by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe during World Radio Day celebrations in Harare, February 13, 2017. I welcome you all to the 2017 edition of the World Radio Day celebrations. I feel humbled that Zimbabwe has been chosen to be the Southern African region's host for this year's World Radio Day celebrations.

This is the first time broadcasters from the region have come together to celebrate the power and influence of radio together.

Since the World Radio Day was marked on the calendar by UNESCO in 2011 as a day worth celebrating, this is the first time the celebrations are taking place on a regional level.

Because of affordability and reach, radio has made serious impact on people's lives since the advent of broadcasting. In 2011, UNESCO designated February 13 as the World Radio Day to acknowledge and recognise the power of the radio in educating people, promoting gender equality, providing information as well as promoting freedom of expression across cultures.

It was in this spirit of promoting freedom of expression across all cultures that officials from the African Union of Broadcasters (AUB) visited Zimbabwe in August 2016. The organisation later chose Zimbabwe through the public broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, to host the World Radio Day on behalf of the Southern African region.

We are honoured that the biggest broadcaster in our region, the SABC, is represented by Mr Keobile Mosweu.

As I speak now, celebrations to mark this day are also being held in other African regions with Senegal hosting the event on behalf of West Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen, this venue where these celebrations are taking place is symbolic. Takashinga Cricket Club is a symbol of the struggle and advancement of disadvantaged communities.

At a time when black cricket players were sidelined from the national team, when cricket was a preserve of a few elite, a time when it was almost taboo for schools in high-density suburbs to play cricket, a few bold individuals rose up and formed the club Takashinga.

Those who formed the club, among them Stephen Mangongo, had hearts of lions as they challenged a system that had marginalised black people from the sport of cricket for decades.

One of the founders, Givemore Makoni, might have summed up the attitude at the time when he said, and I quote, "Takashinga means we are brave and we will fight all the way. This symbolises the black people of Zimbabwe who are no quitters at anything they set their mind on."

Indeed, Takashinga whose home we are today went on to groom national team captains such as Tatenda Taibu, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura and Prosper Utseya among other players that have played for Zimbabwe.

These suburbs where we are gathered are historic. Highfield is Harare's second oldest high-density suburb set up to accommodate black people during the colonial period. Highfield is the home of African nationalism in Zimbabwe. Many liberation icons including Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe had houses in Highfield and the properties have become national heritages because they played a great role in setting the stage for the struggle that liberated Zimbabwe.

The revolutionary party, Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), was formed here in Highfield in 1963. It is not thus surprising that after the war in 1980 and on his return from Mozambique, President Robert Mugabe addressed his first rally at the Highfield Grounds, a place not far from here.

During the liberation struggle, radio played a critical role in mobilising the masses towards the ideals of the revolution.

Liberation broadcasts such as Voice of Zimbabwe that was broadcasting from Maputo touched the hearts and souls of many ensuring that the whole nation became galvanised towards nothing else other than the attainment of full independence.

It is therefore no coincidence that we are gathered in Highfield celebrating radio as the most powerful means of mass communication in Zimbabwe and other African countries.

While acknowledging that radio has great entertainment value as you have witnessed here, it is also a medium of communication that can be used to disseminate information that saves lives, brings development to marginalised communities as well as helps in promoting gender parity.

As pointed out by the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, in her celebratory message this year, radio provides an enduring platform for bringing communities together.

She urges radio broadcasters to exploit the power of the radio to ensure that the world takes forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In Zimbabwe, the success of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, (ZIM-ASSET) makes sure that we also meet the goals of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It is, therefore, important to use the radio to mobilise and galvanise people around ZIM-ASSET.

In the same context, radio has contributed immensely to the development of sport in all corners of the time. I am sure you have been to remote rural areas when Zimbabwe teams are playing in the international competitions and you see people gathered around a radio to listen to sport commentary. Radio has equally contributed to the upliftment of disadvantaged communities by providing information that helps people to cope with the challenges they face in their com- munities.

The electronic industry has seen rapid transformation since the turn of the millennium in developments that have seen other modes of mass communication becoming redundant. Radio has, however, been resilient maintaining its traditional format while also transforming itself to meet the modern requirements of new technologies such as the internet, mobile phones and satellite broad- casting.

The radio has become digitalised which has given it a niche in the technological convergence taking place in the industry, quality and an efficient exploitation of the spectrum. Without doubt, radio remains the most popular mode of mass communication with the power to draw huge crowds, entertain them, unite and mobilise them towards common goals for development to take place.

The convergence that has taken place making sharing of content easier makes the radio more powerful as a means of communication. Radio Zimbabwe's outreach programme, for example, has not only provided entertainment to rural communities but also galvanised unity among communities.

The 2017 World Radio Day theme as given by UNESCO, is "Radio is You".

As the theme suggests, there can never be any radio without people. I am grateful you have come in large numbers to celebrate this important day showing that people know that radio plays an important role in their lives. It is also heartening to notice that youths have also come in large numbers.

I am told these celebrations have a deliberate bias towards youth involvement. The benefits to their development to become responsible and hardworking citizens that comes from the radio are immense.

While technology has become the heartbeat of modern life, it also poses some dangers to the young generation. Through the internet, some of our bright prospects among the youth end up being misled by perverts who trick them into such vices as pornography, prostitution and drug abuse among other crimes.

Whilst radio can mobilise for the good of society, it can also be used to do the same for bad things. We have heard when radio was used to fan divisions and hatred in societies that suffered genocides and, at times, by terrorists seeking to mobilise for their heartless activities. While enjoying the benefits that radio can bring to society, we should ensure that it is not used for fiendish ends.

Allow me this opportunity to salute the ZBC together with all sister local radio stations that worked together to ensure this event is a success. The World Radio Day is a United Nations baby. As such, allow me this opportunity to thank all UN agencies in Zimbabwe with special mention going to UNESCO.

I want to thank our visitors from SABC for coming. Collaborating in radio programmes in the region will drive the regional developmental agenda far. Let me also take this opportunity to thank our artistes who entertained us providing us with what William Shakespeare referred to as the food of the soul – music. We appreciate you musicians for messages that help shape our generation. I say thank you to schoolchildren, teachers and the general public for gracing this event.

Thank you all for coming.

You are indeed, the radio as symbolised by the theme because without you, these celebrations would not have been a success.

I thank you.

- the herald

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