Radio Bamakan, Mali

Radio Bamakan, Mali

RADIO BAMAKAN ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

From: resystom@WEB.APC.ORG (Bruce Girard) Subject: Radio Bamakan - Mali Date: 12 Jul 93 03:31:00 GMT

/* Written 6:04 pm Jun 11, 1993 by resystom in */ ---------- "Radio Bamakan - Mali" ----------

Radio Bamakan carves out a niche in Mali's new democracy


Walk through the streets of Mali's capitol, Bamako, and you're sure to hear Radio Bamakan wafting out of stores, homes and vehicles. Mali's first community radio station is also the most popular radio station in Bamako.

Its popularity is due to the fact that Radio Bamakan broadcasts most of its programming in national languages, and to the quality of its shows. According to Program Director Mohamadou Cisse, "We put a lot of importance on professional work. By professionalism I mean to take into account time constraints, the social context in which we are working, and an understanding of the listeners." Radio Bamakan went on-air officially in September of 1991. The equipment to get the station running was provided by an Italian NGO, Tierra Nova, but Radio Bamakan found itself in the red before it could even get an operational budget together. It experienced some very difficult financial times, going into debt to install its equipment and conduct technical tests.

Radio Bamakan is no longer looking through its pockets for spare change; it is now financially secure, and the station is content with its modest budget and expenditures. A recent grant from Oxfam America, for example, is being carefully spent on a second studio; the rest of the money will be put into a station fund and kept on reserve for hard times.

It is this type of pragmatism and self-assurance that has made Radio Bamakan so successful. The station is well-aware of the role it plays in defending Mali's new-found democracy and freedom of the press, initiated just over two years ago, on March 26, 1991. That date marked the ousting of the military dictatorship which ruled the country for 23 years.

According to Cisse, Mali's democracy is being consolidated and is still very fragile. As such, "The role of Radio Bamakan is to struggle positively in favor of the democratic process; to defend democracy and serve the population. There are a lot of aspects of democracy that the people don't know about, and we are obliged to raise awareness, to explain that democracy is not anarchy; that democracy involves rights and obligations. We have the right to demand, but we also have obligations to the state.

"On a political level, we have the right to receive whoever we want in our studios. We have the right to criticize what we want. We can say that freedom of the press exists in Mali now," says Cisse.

There are six independent radio stations - three community and three commercial - broadcasting in Bamako. In its early days, Radio Bamakan had to fight for the legalization of community radio, however, Cisse is confident that the new government will not act to close down the independent stations, because of the level of popular support.

Nor does he feel that Radio Bamakan is threatened by the establishment of commercial radio stations, as they do not broadcast in Mali's national languages.

Freedom of the press has also brought foreign-owned radio channels to Mali; stations such as the French owned Radio France-Inter.

Cisse explains, "from a strictly professional point of view, competition with Radio France-Inter doesn't worry me, because I know they can't take our listeners away. The oral tradition is very strong in Africa and a lot of people don't speak French. We at Radio Bamakan speak in a language they understand. Where I am against these stations, is that they represent cultural colonialism. The French are experimenting with a new form of intervention in Africa, through the airwaves of Radio France-Inter."

In the meantime, Radio Bamakan remains dedicated to fulfilling its role of presenting a wide range of issues to Bamako's diverse population. Cisse states, "Before there was only the state radio, but now other visions are needed. There's no longer a monopolization of information. State radio can speak in the name of the government, while free radio can speak in the name of the population, of independent people."

Lisa Vinebohm Radio Bamakan Nouveau Marche de Mdine Bamako, Mali Tel: (+223) 22-27-60

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: :: This article is from InteRadio, Vol. 5, No.2. :: :: InteRadio is the newsletter of AMARC, the World Association :: :: of Community Radio Broadcasters. :: :: 3575 St-Laurent, # 704 - Montreal, Quebec - H2X 2T7 Canada :: :: Fax: +(514) 849-7129 - Tel: +(514) 982-0351 :: :: Email: ::


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific