Celebrating Radio and Trust in Zambia

Zambia joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Radio Day (WRD) on 13 February under the global theme Radio and Trust. The main event, which was made possible by the World Radio Day National Organising Committee was held at the Mass Media Complex. 

As a build up to the main event, radio programmes were hosted on different radio stations sensitizing the public about the day itself and discussing the theme for this year. Radio stations and different stakeholders exhibited during the commemoration event.

To add more visibility to the day and event a social media campaign ran during the week leading up to the 13th of February on different platforms. Short video messages were produced to celebrate the day and shared on different media platforms.

Hon. Chushi Kasanda, the Minster of Media and Information and Government Spokesperson launched the WRD 2022 on the eve of the day on the Zambia National Television Broadcasting Station Television. 

This year’s WRD celebrated the independence and reliability of radio. Many Zambians still turn to radio, more than to any other medium for information,  especially because more than fifty percent of the population is in rural areas and can hardly afford a television set that today comes with a levy. Even more, the growing misinformation on social media networks has worked against the penetration of mobile telephoning that put internet enabled communication in the hands of many young people.

The COVID 19 pandemic helped Zambians to reflect on this important media especially when schools were closed. The tried and tested Taonga Market showed that radio is indeed a thanksgiving platform as it remains the most reliable medium through which learning continues when schools are both open or closed. With schools closed and many social gatherings stopped during the pandemic, radio has from the advent of the pandemic provided a more intimate relationship between speaker and listener on one hand and amongst speakers on the other hand through phone in programmes.

Unlike social media or television where images are edited and distort the true appearances of people, the voices on the radio waves are real and authentic thereby keeping people with a sense of togetherness. This partly explains why it is important to continue to guarantee the independence and rigour of radio and the professionalism of journalists through the support of press freedom and continuous capacity building of media practitioners. For this cause, UNESCO towards the end of last year supported Zambia with funds to conduct capacity building activities for media practitioners in ethics, professionalism and electoral reporting.
What is also important to note is that for the trust in radio to continue there must be diversity at all levels from ownership, human resource to programming. To contribute to the diversity of radio, UNESCO funded the establishment of Community Radios in Zambia and continues to monitor the sustainability and growth of these radio stations in Mazabuka, Chama, Mongu, Mkushi, Samfya and Isoka.

UNESCO also declared the decade leading to 2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032) to draw global attention on the critical situation of many indigenous languages and to mobilize stakeholders and resources for their preservation, revitalization and promotion. This proclamation was a key outcome of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, for which UNESCO led global efforts. 

Community Radio stations are critical key players in this regard as they broadcast predominantly in languages of the communities they serve. This reality in the context of Zambia has made the trust of radio to be anchored not just on the independence but also on better representation of diversity in terms of language and ideas.