Mid this week, South Sudan media fraternity was joined by development partners to mark the World Radio Day.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is; Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace.
In South Sudan, the stakeholders suited the theme to; “South Sudan Peace Process: Understanding the role of radio in peace building, Dialogue and Tolerance,” in order to advance the implementation of the new peace deal.
A close door panel to discuss the role of radio in the country was held in the capital city, Juba.
Radio journalists, activists, government officials and the international community were in attendance. Listeners were given chance to ask question and share their opinions.
Lang Diong, who resides at the internally displaced camps in Juba was one of participants. For him: “Radio is our only source of information.”
“Since 2015, Eye Radio has been reporting about the peace talks and we get to know everything happening in Addis Ababa,” he said.
“During the conflict, they [Eye Radio] gave us news of what the situation is since most of us where hiding in the houses and bushes. It was the news on Eye radio that helped us to make the next move,” said Joseph Kirwor, a listener in Juba.
He went on to say that “when Eye Radio reported that peace was signed, I knew that my people can now go back home, we were very happy that day, in September.”
Mama Samra – a disable, is a regular listener and participant on Eye Radio: “I love radio so much, it’s my life.
“I have been sick for years now, I don’t move, radio is my only companion. I listen to music and news in all the different languages on Eye Radio. I also call and contribute to the show that is my daily comfort,” she said.
Ukel Masimo, a Wau listener had this to say: “ Eye Radio is the best, you hear news in English, and Arabic,. And if you don’t know these two languages, you can get in Shilluk, Nuer, Dinka, Bari and many other languages.
Those were not the only participants who shared their views . Thousands had shared their views online, on air and through the text lines.
Why is radio important for South Sudanese?
On Tuesday, the UN Secretary General called on member states to use radio to promote dialogue and tolerance.
According to Antonio Gutiérrez, radio is a powerful tool for passing vital information and creating awareness among people.
While giving his remarks om Wednesday, Thomson Fontaine, who is the Reconstituted-JMEC deputy chief of staff said: “Radio stands out because it it goes to every layer society. Everybody loves radio even in developed country.”
Meanwhile, R- JMEC chief of staff, Berhanu Kabede, said this year’s topic is appropriate considering the peace implementation process.
“The World Radio Day is very much in line with what South Sudan is currently engaged. In recent months, we have seen the willingness of the parties to engage in dialogue and work together to implement the peace,” he said.
For his part, UNESCO representative, Badaiou Jallow, emphasised on the importance of inclusion of diverse society in radio communication processes for peace building.
“People’s rights to express themselves on air in their own languages…make our societies more resilient, more open and more peaceful.”
However, in South Sudan, the media sector is faced with numerous challenges. At the panel of discussions, Radio journalists and managers said: Security restriction, lack of access to information, and the economic crisis, are among the key challenges affecting the sector.
The participants call for these matters to be addressed to enable the media do its work of disseminating information to the public effectively.
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