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The radio a powerful medium for Building a #HateFreeCameroon

The first advancement in telecommunications was radio, the first wireless mode of communication. Radios send messages by radio waves instead of wires. German scientist Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of radio waves, which occur in nature. In 1895, a young Italian named Gugliemo Marconi invented what he called “the wireless telegraph” while experimenting in his parents’ attic (the upper room of their house). He used radio waves to transmit Morse code and the instrument he used became known as the radio. 

The radio works by changing sounds or signals into radio waves, which travel through air, space, and solid objects, and the radio receiver changes them back into the sounds, words, and music we hear. A radio broadcast is a one-way transmission, originating from a radio station. In the early 1920s, radio played an important role in people’s lives, and over 500 stations were broadcasting news, music, sports, drama, and variety shows. By the 1930s, most households in the U.S. and Europe had at least one radio. In the evening, the family gathered around a big “console” that was usually located in the living room, where they might spend hours listening to variety shows or comedies from their favourite anchors or comedians. Everyone used their imagination to visualise all of the characters in their favourite shows. This was the beginning of the “Golden Age of Radio.” 

Following a request from the Spanish Radio Academy on 20 September 2010, Spain proposed that the UNESCO Executive Board include an agenda item on the proclamation of a World Radio Day. UNESCO’s Executive Board adds the agenda item in its provisional agenda for the proclamation of a “World Radio Day ” on 29 September 2011. UNESCO carried out a wide consultation in 2011 with diverse stakeholders, such as broadcasting associations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, relevant NGOs, foundations and bilateral development agencies, as well as UNESCO Permanent Delegations and National Commissions for UNESCO and among the answers, 91% were in favour of the project. The Board recommended to UNESCO’s 36th session of the General Conference that it proclaim a World Radio Day at the said session and that this day be celebrated by UNESCO on 13 February, the anniversary of the day where the United Nations established the United Nations Radio in 1946. It also invited all United Nations Member States, organisations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organisations, professional associations and broadcasting unions, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organisations and individuals, to duly celebrate World Radio Day, in the way that each considers most adequate. The board further requested that UNESCO’s Director-General bring the resolution to the attention of the Secretary-General of the United Nations so that World Radio Day could be endorsed by the General Assembly and celebrated by the whole system. The matter was subsequently treated by UNESCO’s General Conference, which was adopted in November 2011. In December 2012, The General Assembly of the UN endorsed the proclamation of World Radio Day, which thereby became a day to be celebrated by all UN agencies, funds, programs and their partners. 

In honour of the first World Radio Day in 2012, Lifeline Energy, Frontline SMS, SOAS Radio, and Empowerhouse hosted a seminar in London. A variety of practitioners, academics, and tool providers joined the School of Oriental and African Studies to explore ways in which radio reaches even the most remote and vulnerable communities. At the University of Pisa in Italy, a public event was held on 13 February 2012 to commemorate World Radio Day. The event was organised by Italradio and the Faculty of Engineering and Telecommunication, focused on the cost and ease of use of radio as a source of information. Pisa was chosen as the first Italian city to host an intercontinental radio station built by Marconi in the early years of the 20th century. In 2012, in Barcelona, Spain, a public event organised by the College of Telecommunications Engineers of Catalunya (COETTC) was held on 21 February 2012 to commemorate World Radio Day. The event was organised with the help of the Government of Catalonia. There were panellists from radio stations and personalities from the world of radio broadcasting in attendance. 

At #defyhatenow through our mission which seeks to support the voices and actions of citizens working against online induced conflict within and outside affected regions by bringing youth, community leaders, media, grassroots organisations and civil society stakeholders into a peace-oriented media and information literacy framework, in bridging gaps of knowledge and awareness of social media mechanisms between those with access to technology and those without.  The radio has been a powerful medium for spreading misinformation and insecurity and equally for building peace. We noticed that not everyone who listens to the radio takes advantage of the options available to them, but at least due to some programmes, the public gets equipped to make informed decisions on particular issues they encounter, it could be hate speech, violation of their rights, or induced violence extremism on them or other people around them. It suffices to know that many people have used the radio to promote hatred and violence, as seen in the way the radio was used to report the case of the dead of the Journalist who was killed in Cameroon in January 22, 2023, it is also important to find ways to use this platform to support peace building and development for a #HateFreeCameroon. As in our case, #defyhatenow has had the opportunity to train and equip some Cameroonian journalists of both the radio and Television on acquiring the necessary skills on the techniques and tools to use for fact checking information before sharing with their audience or listeners.

This week through our sensitization campaigns we were able to reach out to radio stations and Ngala Desmond #defyhatenow Country manager shared views on the causes of violence in the North West region of Cameroon in one of his interviews with CRTV Radio in the North West region and Amplitude Fm in the Centre region as he also shared on the place of the radio in the fight against hate speech in Cameroon. 

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