Africa's largest slum has a radio station

Saturday 15 September 2007

Waves that carry stories from< Africa's largest slum, has got a radio station. A five-story apartment building at the edge of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya recently sprouted a new antenna--this is the wand through which the voice of kibera is now being broadcast to the transistor radios of a million people. Pamoja 99.9 fm joins a growing chorus of community radio stations in Kenya

"Mainstream media just aren't touching on anything to do with the day-to-day aspects of life in Kibera," explained Muchiri Kioi, Pamoja's director of operations and the driving force behind the fledgling project. He says the station will focus on issues that bear directly on its listeners: environment, women's rights, drug abuse, and community awareness. "Even free funeral and wedding announcements," he added. Kioi had to overcome considerable resistance from a government that perceived Pamoja as supporting the opposition. It took two and a half years for the radio station to finally clear the bureaucratic hurdles set before it by the regulatory body.

Now the station requires finances. The money that Kioi and other volunteers had managed to raise has gone to pay rent and buy the bare essentials needed to put out a signal. The studio was hand-built by Kioi and his team of 12 Kibera youths; they soundproofed the walls with hardboard and super foam, then lined the ceiling with egg cartons. The station is equipped with just one computer, a solitary hand-held microphone, one headset and an outdated sound mixer.

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