World Radio Day: Radio Chikuni Journalists get on their bikes in Zambia (1)

chikuni radio


Bridging the information gap

In Monze, Zambia, the vision of Chikuni Community Radio Station is to enable the community of Chikuni to be fully developed in all aspects of human life. 

In a groundbreaking move with the help from the Irish Jesuit Missions and other organisations, Chikuni Parish raised over £100,000 to set up and operate the first radio station run by the Batonga people for the Batonga people.

How to bridge the information gap between widespread rural communities and the radio station was a logistical problem.The roads are not good and sometimes inaccessible by car. But listening to and recording the views of the peopleespecially of women and childrenare core to Radio Chikuni’s vision and the development needs of the poorest areas in the Diocese of Monze.

The transport problem was solved with the purchase of 10 sturdy bicycles for the Community Journalists! Off they go on their bikes to collect news, stories and live reports every week and bring it all back to Radio Chikuni for broadcasting far and wide.

Tune into Radio Chikuni

The majority of the programmes are in the local Chitonga language and are aired at times that are most suited for peoples’ working day. They are aimed at the subsistence farmers who make up the majority of the inhabitants in the Southern province of Zambia.

It is from Chikuni Mission that the radio station operates on 91.9 FM and covers a radius of 60 Kilometers. It broadcasts to all the 21 out-stations in Chikuni Parish and beyond, to an audience of at least 250,000. The station also reaches other parishes notably Monze, Mazabuka and Choma. Have a listen in here !

Power of radio and the SDGs

The UNESCO World Radio Day, celebrated annually on February 13th, aims to raise awareness about the importance of radio to facilitate access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality. Ms Irini Bokova,UNESCO-DirectorGeneral:

“We are living a revolution in how we share and access information – and, yet, in the midst of deep change, radio has never been so dynamic, engaging and important. 

“At a time of turbulence, radio provides an enduring platform to bring communities together…Radio gives voice to women and men everywhere. It listens to audiences and responds to needs. It is a force for human rights and dignity and a powerful enabler of solutions to the challenges all societies face.

“This is why radio is important to taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Radio for the people by the people

The station was founded by the Jesuits in 2000 with its first transmission in October 1999 and is resulting in a more informed and culturally appreciative community.Fr Andrew Lesniara SJ, managing Director, explains that there have been many funders of Chikuni Community Radio Station over the years. Much has come through the Irish Jesuit Missions for developing the station:the Digital Studios are a well used addition.

A radio car was bought thanks to the efforts of the Jesuit Missions in Poland and Miva Polska. But, says Fr Lesniara, it is the small donors who provide most of the funds for the running of the station.

The show must go on: the Tonga Music Festival.

The upbeat Tonga Music Festival is organised by the station every year. Initiated for the purpose of reviving, promoting and preserving Tonga traditional music and dance, it promotes the Chitonga language in a lively festival of song and dancing that people from miles around travel to enjoy.

chikuni Concert 2015The Tonga Music Festival was solely funded by the station until some years ago. When it couldn’t be staged for lack of funds the Irish Jesuit Missions—along with Jesuit Missions in Poland and UK—stepped in and provided the financial backing. The show must go on!

If you would like to contribute too, please click here 

Author: Compiled by Irish Jesuit Missions, 10th February 2016, revised 10th February 2017