Role of community radio crucial in promoting social justice – Prof. Karikari
Professor Kwame KariKari, a former Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), has extolled the inalienable role of community radio in promoting social justice and community development through activism and social mobilisation to achieve a common purpose.
He said beyond the traditional role of the media in providing information, news, entertainment, and education to its audience, the community radio also served as an agency for mobilising the community to pursue causes of public interest to the community.
Prof. Karikari said this in Wa during the 25th-anniversary lecture of Radio Progress, a community radio station in Wa, on the theme: “Radio Progress @25, a Star of Development of the Upper West Region”.
Radio Progress was established by the Catholic Church in 1997 and it’s the premier community radio station in Ghana.
It had since championed the development of the region through its public interest programming, and promotion of healthy social and cultural values, which were the onuses of community radio.
Stakeholders from the private and public sectors, media, the religious community, academia, and former staff of the radio station, including its founding Manager, Dr. Lawrence Naaikuur, attended the anniversary lecture.
Prof. Karikari was speaking on the topic: “Community Radio and Activism, Championing the Watchdog Role for Enhanced Democracy”.
“Community Radio must strive to promote accountability in public life by assisting the community to demand responsibility of duty bearers, and people in public offices of responsibility”, he said.
Other vital roles of community radio, Prof. Karikari identified included promoting peace and security, combating negative and backward ideas that impeded human development and social progress, and advocating the development, progress, and social and economic well-being of citizens among others.
He, however, explained that despite the crucial role of community radio, it was faced with distressed economic challenges due to the limited advertising sources, and virtually no sources of revenue to operate with.
“These difficulties notwithstanding, many community radio stations in Ghana, have made important contributions by engaging in activities to promote social justice courses for their communities”, Prof. Karikari explained.
Dr. Gabriel Gbiel Benarkuu, President of the College for Community and Organisational Development (CCOD), who presented on the topic: “The Role of Radio in Sustainable Community Development”, stressed the need for the media organisation to create a resilient system to achieve its desired goal.
“So I want to assure you that until you trigger radical changes, you’re not going to achieve what the proponents or the previous people really proposed for the existence of radio programme”, he explained.
Dr. Damasus Tuurosung, the Executive Council Chairman of Radio Progress, commended both the past and present staff of the radio station for their sacrificial service to bring it to its current state.
“Since 1997 when Radio Progress first came on air, many stations have come and gone down and under. However, the station remains, standing tall, strong, and undaunted by the raging storms”, he observed.
He said that had informed the need to celebrate the achievements of the station over the years despite the current economic crisis, which was sinking some organisations.
Dr. Tuurosung, however, underscored the need to chart ways of sustaining the gains of the organisation and exceeding the expectation of the people in the region.