SUDAN WATCH: Mayardit FM radio station launched on 13 March 2010 in Turalei, Sudan

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mayardit FM radio station launched on 13 March 2010 in Turalei, Sudan

Internews Sudan launched its fifth community radio station, Mayardit FM, at a ceremony March 13 in Turalei, Sudan.

Internews' project, "Radio for Peace, Democracy and Development in South Sudan," began in 2006 and is funded by the US Agency for International Development.

A Village in Sudan Gets its Own Radio Station
Source: Internews Network Inc.
Date: 02 Apr 2010
(April 2, 2010) Internews Sudan launched its fifth community radio station at a ceremony March 13 in Turalei, Sudan.

"The goal of the radio station is to inform all of the people that can listen to it about issues that are vitally important to them: about issues of health [and] education, issues of civic engagement around the [Comprehensive Peace Agreement], voting, all of these kinds of things," said Gordon Mangum, the Internews Sudan country director.

Mangum spoke at the launching ceremony along with the Warrap State governor, the Turalei commissioner, the state minister of information, a Mercy Corps representative, and a local pastor. About 200 local residents also visited the radio station compound for the launch.

Mayardit FM is staffed by five local Sudanese journalists. One of the journalists, David Deng Bol, manages the station as radio station coordinator.

The reporter team collectively produces five hours of original programming each week on topics like agriculture, HIV/AIDS, youth, government, and sports. They also produce a daily news bulletin about local events in their community.

"Communication [is] very, very rare [in Sudan]. No televisions. No newspaper. No nothing," said John Thuc Madut, one of the station's reporters. "This radio now is a new radio and also we can broadcast through our language. And we can first give information to the community."

The station broadcasts in Dinka, Arabic and English, the three languages most commonly used in the community. Mangum stressed that the station belongs to the local residents.

"The radio station belongs to everyone in these areas, regardless of their tribe or their political party or their religion or any other way that we talk about ourselves. It belongs to all of us together," he said. "Now more than ever, people really need civic education."

In 2005 after nearly four decades of civil war between the north and south, a peace accord was signed with the promise of elections in April 2010 and an independence referendum for the south in January 2011. The elections will be the first in Sudan in 24 years.

Turalei resident Peter Qwash Malek, who attended the radio station launch, said the broadcasting center will serve a critical role during the polling.

"It will be so important for us to have it because when the election will take place," he said. "It will need people also to get some new words or some words from outside from those people who are in far places, because, by that time, everybody will be out voting. And when there will be some questions or some difficulties that can face them outside, [they] can be simply reported to the radio station."

Planning for the radio station started nearly a year ago. The reporters received about four months of training from Internews Sudan's resident journalism advisor Sammy Muraya, an award-winning Kenyan journalist. Among other things, he taught the journalists how to produce news and produce programs.

Mayardit FM reporter Christine Akuol produces two half-hour shows each week, one on agriculture and another on women's issues. She said she most enjoys her women's program.

"We here in Dinka culture, the women, they don't have a right voice," she said. "I like so that I can educate women, to bring them, and I can empower our community so that they know the rights of the girl or they know how the best girl should be educated. "

"There are some people who say that whenever you educate a woman, that means you educate a nation. So we can really to bring up our people," she said.

Akuol said people in her community are happy because they know the radio station will give them a voice.

"As soon as we have the radio, everything will be easy. We will stop any problems between communities. We will bring them up right now. They will grow as a people," she continued.

Mangum said he hopes that in addition to the Mayardit FM reporters passing on information to the community, the local community stays involved with the station.

"We've had such a warm welcome here," Mangum said in his speech at the launching ceremony. "We already feel part of the community and we look forward to being part of your community for a long time in the future."

Internews' project, "Radio for Peace, Democracy and Development in South Sudan," began in 2006 and is funded by the US Agency for International Development.

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