Radio BuKalanga, a community radio station in Plumtree, Matabeleland South, was Thursday officially commissioned by Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr. Jenfan Muswere at the border town amid pomp and fanfare.
Broadcasting predominantly in TjiKalanga, Radio BuKalanga, which is the 10 community radio station to be established in the country to date, covers Bulilima, Mangwe, Matobo, and Botswana
“The commissioning that you have just witnessed here in Matabeleland South Province is clear testimony to the government’s commitment in terms of ensuring that we have heritage-based broadcasting services across the country,” said Muswere.
“The licensing framework brought about by the changes and the reforms as we journey towards an upper middle-income society by the year 2023 through a regulatory framework which brings on board, community radio stations ensures that we are in a position to support our local languages, ensures that we are in a position to support our rich language heritage, it ensures that we support information publicity and broadcasting services by decentralising and devolving radio broadcasting services across all districts in the country.”
Muswere said of importance was the reality that Radio BuKalanga will be in a position to broadcast 70 percent of its content in the local TjiKalanga language.
“I am well advised that the radio will take care of Bulilima, Mangwe, and Matobo districts, which also dovetails with our agenda and mandate as a ministry that an informed nation, a knowledgeable community, and a knowledgeable district is very important for nation-building.”
Radio BuKalanga board chairperson, Ntando Dumani, paid tribute to BaKalanga in the Diaspora for their contributions towards the establishment of the new community radio station.
“I should also thank the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) for the support that they have rendered in terms of broadcasting equipment as well as training,” said Dumani. We hope that kind of support can be extended to other community radios because we have benefitted immensely as Radio BuKalanga.”
Dumani also thanked Radio BuKalanga volunteers for keeping the station alive.
“We want Radio BuKalanga to become a model community radio station in Zimbabwe and even beyond,” he said.
“We will pursue that vision relentlessly and we should as time goes on be able to demonstrate that we have gotten there.
Thilo Schone, FES country director, said community radio stations are very important in providing space for amplifying community voices, fostering inclusion and promoting minority rights.
He said he was so touched by how BaKalanga participated in their development. “The Kalanga do not wait for anyone to come, they take destiny into their own hands: that’s what I saw,” he said.
“They have built their hospitals and schools. They have taught me an important saying: “Tjinyunyi babili komba woga tjowuluka”. For those who do not know Kalanga, it means to catch a bird, you need other people. If you attempt to catch it alone, it flies away. This radio station is the bird and is a result of hard work by many people, here and in the Diaspora and Harare, government and civil society.”
Transmedia representative also applauded BaKalanga for being much organised.
“As Transmedia, we are very much proud to be associated with Radio BuKalanga, for this reason, this is a very organised community radio station,” he said.
“For the first time, this is the community station which managed to mobilise resources to procure equipment. Our role as Transmedia was made easy because the equipment was already available.”