By Liban Obsiye
Radio Muqdisho yesterday celebrated its 66th anniversary in beautiful style in Mogadishu. The attendance of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, the Speaker of Parliament, Ministers and many more dignitaries is testament to the great appreciation the Somali people have for their first national radio.
Radio Muqdisho was born at a time of colonialism and struggle but saw Somalia through independence, civil war and now is playing a major role in our return to stability. Radio Muqdisho is the voice of the people in many ways and in times of confusion, a pillar of impartiality. Radio Muqdisho connects the Somali people wherever they are and proudly carries the authentic Somali national emblem in the news it spreads to all corners of the world. In this regard, it is a genuine public broadcaster representing and protecting the interests of the Somali people.
Radio Muqdisho always championed and continues to highlight the national causes which led Somalia to progress and prosper. The national literacy campaign of the 1970’s is one of the jewels in its crown. However, despite its successes even in modern times of adversity and limited resources, Radio Muqdisho still needs vast investments to diversify content, increase its presence across the country and train the current and future stars of Somali journalism like it always did.
Today, Somalis are fortunate to have both Radio Muqdisho and Somali National TV (SNTV). These are national media organizations which belong to, and serve, every Somali citizen everywhere. We must recognize their great effort in connecting us all, our issues and priorities to the rest of the world. We must also recognize and thank those who have served to inform, educate and entertain us at the cost of their lives. This group includes Ministers, journalists, producers, and technicians, Police as well as many others.
Radio Muqdisho, SNTV and all other responsible Somali media outlets are needed now more than ever to help drive the national development effort. Somalia has an ambitious President and Prime Minister who seek to bring Nabad and Nolol to life. However, fiscal resources are limited despite the solid national efforts to raise domestic revenue and improve the investment environment. Thankfully, as an oral society, many development projects like education, health, security and social affairs, can be broadcast cost effectively across the airwaves and on TV and still reach the majority of citizens. This succeeded in the past and can do so again if coupled with targeted development interventions which are culturally appropriate and based within the beneficiary communities.
At a time of national recovery, reconciliation is crucial. Reconciliation though is not just about establishing courts and Truth Commissions as important as these are. Reconciliation begins with acknowledgement of what keeps a people and nations together: language, religion, culture, land and lineage. What do we lose if we continue to fight? What do we endanger by remaining hostile to one another? Radio Muqdisho, SNTV and other independent media must remain champions for connecting our people globally. Somalis may not agree on the Political process but there is no denying a great song by a Somali legend when it is broadcast or a famous play when it is re-played over the radio or on TV.
The challenge for the Somali media as a whole going forward is the implementation of robust media laws and regulations which promote responsible journalism. To do this, the Ministry of Information must continue its fruitful efforts, under the leadership of Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarrisow), of engaging journalists, demanding high standards and uniting Somali journalists across the Federal divide. Somalia and its wonderful people have a great story to share with themselves and the world and only a united voice can distribute it to all corners of the world.