On one special Monday in November Radio Ada hosted a celebration of community radio advocacy with longtime Ghana community radio supporters Deutsche Welle Broadcasting Network, those who were able to join the celebration included DW managing director Peter Limbourg, DW managing director for Africa, DW managing director for the academy, Okor high priests, the founders of Radio Ada, representatives from over 10 community radio stations, the Volta Revival Foundation, ye katsemi (brave womens collective) , and the Kewunor Advocates.
The celebration included vibrant cultural drumming and dancing, many moving speeches by radio founders, historians, DW members; and a play put on by Ye Katsemi (the brave womens collective) to demonstrate what is happening at the Songor Lagoon concerning salt winning and Atsiakpo (illegal salt mining). The following is a video and transcript of the drama performed that day:
Woman 1: Salt is life. Salt is food. Therefore, it is a livelihood. We [originally] came to Yomo (the guardian spirit of the Songor Lagoon) the victorius Yomo, whose symbol is the white caribu. White means victory, red is a taboo, the Songor hurts red. The tragedy of Maggie (who was killed by private security forces of an illegal salt mining company) should go out to the whole world, because the rights to the Songor lagoon have been rescued by the PNDC law 287, which holds the Songor lagoon in trust for the surrounding communities. But what do we see today, tell me what do you also hear? Tell me...
Woman 2: At first the Songor was free to all and now these private companies have come in to do illegal mining, they have come to take the Songor away from the people, but will we also standby and allow for this Atsiakpo (illegal salt mining) to continue? Ye katsemi where are you? (they respond: ‘we are on our feet!’)
Woman 1: Women and children are being deprived, nature is being depleted--- OH! Men at work against nature! Thank you Radio Ada, thank you Ye Katsemi—but I will not over praise you so that you would loose focus.
A rat has stolen a nut from an old lady’s porch (yomo also means old lady) but on the way the noise of the Conda (traditional gong) Sounded, the rat became terrified, and left the nut for the old lady, had it not been for the noise, the Songor Lagoon would have vanished entirely.
Act 1: depicts women at work collecting salt at the Songor lagoon- the way things were before the illegal salt mining companies came to take the lagoon- the women could come for the salt to support themselves. If there was a funeral, they could come to the lagoon to take salt and sell it in order to pay for the funeral rites, this money may also be used for school fees as well as other emergencies since the Songor was completely for the people.
Act 2: depicts the time (from the 1970’s to now) when the salt miners came to the Songor lagoon to monopolize the salt illegally. The story told here is about the death of Maggie, a pregnant woman from one of the adjacent communities to the Songor lagoon, she was also a salt miner. On the day she was killed, she was in a neighboring community, and she was forced to stop for water. Then the security men hired by one of the private (illegal) salt mining companies came into the community where she was firing their shots as a warning to the communities around the Songor lagoon to keep out. In the course of the commotion Maggie was unable to run away and was shot and killed (a publication on this issue can be found for free online here:
Act 3: depicts the hope and celebration of the Ye Katsemi (the brave womens group) that the Songor lagoon will be protected by god, and community partners such who share the story and speak out against Atsiakpo (illegal salt mining/monopolization). The dance is a traditional dance to bring joy, endurance and upliftment to all people.
One member of Radio Ada- often referred to as ‘mommy radio’ because of her part in helping to create a community radio network- spoke about the history of community radio in Ghana, sharing that since 1999 starting with the creation of three radio stations including Radio Ada, 26 community radio stations have been established in Ghana. She said this is a nice achievement, but that they were at all happy with it. She continued, saying, there are over 400 radio station is Ghana, but that when community radio stations apply to get on air, they are often denied, and that is exactly the opposite of what should be happening, because community radio is the only broadcast communication which can truly give a voice to the voiceless- and mostly small rural communities need exactly that in order to engage with their countrymen and government.
Additionally, she closed with a call for help ( which was reiterated by multiple speakers) that the Ghana law prohibiting community radio from extending beyond 5 kilometers is unreasonable, and asked that the minister of information consider that communities are connected and almost always larger than 5 kilometers, and if community radio is to provide access to information to the people within and across adjoining communities for the purpose of building solidarity, creating positive change, and promoting an active democracy; the law must be changed to reflect such important aspects of community radio.
The theme of the celebration surrounded how community radios have been advocating for human rights in correlation to the environment. Since July many community radio stations engaged in a program to report and share information regarding their communities in English, and DW radio also acted as a receiver for stories.This project crated an effective network of information sharing, with some radio stations contributing more than 100 stories in the short 4 month period. Over 26 radio stations participated in this project and DW network gave out awards to the most successful participants, specifying areas of successful advocacy.
For example one radio station was able to successful advocate for a community to get proper toilets, because their reporting showed that women were at risk due to public defecation. They worked with the community to create stories and interviews which convinced the government to allow for the construction of public toilets in the community.
The celebration ended with hugs, handshakes, and bows, before departing to our various offices to continue the good work.