A Radio For Hut

By Gbe Sneh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 13, 2004

This morning, December 11, 2004, it's like making the same early morning trip to the fish trap , but this time finding that you've caught the biggest fish yet! Christmas could not come so early to the Liberian people. What's all that excitement about? A radio for every hut! Maybe not quite that far, but talk about a step in the "righteous direction:", that's what this tiding is on this day! Fishing for news about Liberia, I finally caught a big one! Don't hold me down in my jubilation, I'll tell you why a little later. But first, there's some thanking to do.

Jacques P. Klein
Our thanks to you, Mr. Jacques Paul Klein, for your "Radio-in-Every-Hut" Project, and to the Oneness - Hearts, Tears and Smiles NGO for the donation of wind-up radios sets. With your endeavors, you are in essence bridging the COMMUNICATION DIVIDE. You are leveling the playing field; you are leaving no Liberian behind; you are making the rebuilding efforts all inclusive. During this Christmas Season, when the line, "Peace to Men of Goodwill" is preached at the pulpit, or when it is sounded in any carol, stand tall and raise your head to be counted.

Now, let's dig into the ramifications of this news piece.

"This is community empowerment. This is real recovery for the future," says Mr. Klein. (please see link below) He should have "gone for broke" to call it a "national empowerment". Issues and their answers will now reach all corners of the nation. Remember the Voice Of America (VOA)? If the news is broadcast in "Special English," and whenever possible, translated into local dialects, we would undoubtedly see the emergence of a well informed public. Forget the high rate of illiteracy that "they" keep reminding us about.

The "print media" has served well, but regrettably, it has a far too limited audience. All the issues it has dealt with has reached a few only. This deficiency was elaborately covered in The Perspective article, Radio Broadcast: Best Medium Of The Times. Please revisit. Obviously there are numerous benefits from a nationwide radio service to a broad base audience. But I will confine the rest of this article to a single benefit., the role that the air waves will play in the coming Elections Campaign, especially on the presidency.

With a successful Radio-in-Every-Hut campaign, we would have the perfect medium to air out the pros and cons of the current, heavily charged, discussion on "What Makes A Good Leader". The issue would then move from a "bar-room" debate to a national forum, where the entire public gets involved.

Let's call on all sides of the debate to continue to hold their stance. The only change is that we will now take it to the air waves with the same arguments. Each pundit will be required to summarize his/her position, make an audio tape, and we will call on Mr. Klein to have them played over the radio. "We will record your messages and they will be on the air so that people can hear your messages," says Mr. Klein. (please see link below ). This is an offer we should not refuse.

The opportunity is there now to tell ALL the Liberian people:

That a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
That some "book people" have let us down in the past, so all book people will let us down in the future.
That to be "patriotic" all you have to do is give "dashes" to segments of the public.
That to be a "good leader" you must accept criticism.
That a "good leader" is the most popular person in the country.
That to be a president "wannabe" you should not stay mute on the issues affecting us daily.
That to be a "good leader" you must have a lot of money.
That whether someone "know book or he does not know book", you will still vote for him.
That whether someone "kill your ma, kill your pa", you will still vote for him.
And many more…( can't list all; some articles are longer than bible chapters, "eneh"?)

Those are excerpts from a multitude of write-ups in this debate. We want all the people to hear them, and have the media conduct polls to sum up and report the public reactions. Would that be a fair and comprehensive exercise? I think so. POLLING, by the way, is an invaluable media tool. It is a national "pulse checker". In the United States poll results greet one like a cup of tea, in the morning, even throughout the day. The media houses feed them to the public like "free food"! We saw the Ghanaian media conduct this exercise going into their elections. Let's do the same in Liberia. That way, the next time election results start trickling in and we hear over the air that "Jackson Doe is leading", it would cushion any shock, and at least, we would have an idea why.

With this exercise, we would witness nature take its due course. We would soon stop crying about the log jam that is the presidential race. We would see the masses distinguish between the Pretenders and Contenders. We would see a Liberian People well known for separating Palm-Butter from Palm-Chaff. We would witness an informed electorate come alive.

With all candidates given equal access to the air waves to weigh in on the issues, they would be in a position to extend their messages beyond classroom auditoriums that have become the in-thing, a venue for strumming their political guitars. Hopefully, through the vast reaches of the radio, they will all become equally known, and the only thing that would separate them would be how they deal with the issues facing us all. That done, the people would not listen to any "cry babies" come tomorrow.

The closing statement is an open challenge to Mr. Jacques Paul Klein.
Dear sir: It is a "Pandora Box" you have opened. The people are calling on you to keep the lid up. Please allow this exercise to begin.

Now I can put my pen down for the season, unless I find a snake in the fish trap. There and then, I'll have no choice but to deal with the snake, even it happens on Christmas Day.
With Lots of Love and Joy, SEASON'S GREETINGS.
There always will be HOPE.
MERRY CHRISTMAS.! It came early this year, for all of us.

UN Opens New Front in Liberia's Battle for Peace - Battery-Less Radios