Radio has power in Tanzania. We learned this when we visited the community radio station, Fadeco. The station founder, Joseph Sekiku, told us all about the ability of his radio programs.
As a community station, Fadeco broadcasts informative programs to benefit listeners. The topics range from health, agriculture and environment to women empowerment. With all these programs, the goal is to educate and aid people. Sekiku related this to the phrase about teaching a person to fish rather than giving him the fish. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Information and education empowers people, and prevents problems from starting. Sekiku said he was using these programs to “teach people to fish.” Instead of trying to distribute AIDS medicine, he was distributing information on how to live with AIDS. Instead of handing out food to people, he was teaching them how to harvest their own food.
One of Fadeco’s goals is to give voice to those who don’t have a voice. He said he invites people on-air from all backgrounds, regardless of social status. They come on and talk about social issues from their perspectives. He helps them to get their message out and get support. As he said to us, “This is a loudspeaker. Come and use it.”
Sekiku said the station has a reach of 10 million listeners, and since the station began he’s seen a great increase in radios in the area. The impact the station has had was apparent from the success stories Sekiku told. He talked about how he brought light to the difficulties disabled people were facing in the community. He said a large amount of people are living with disabilities, such as a missing limb, and are rejected from their communities. He invited disabled people to talk about these problems from their viewpoints. Afterwards, listeners responded with the realization of the judgment they placed on these disabled community members. The disabled people gained respect from their community. And not only that, the government decided to assist disabled people. All because of the information broadcast by Fadeco.
Sekiku spoke passionately about this impact. It was inspiring how devoted he was to his work. With engineering background, he decided to purchase radio equipment and start Fadeco on his own. His friends didn’t believe it could be done, but he proved them wrong. Since then, he has used the power of information to improve the lives of his listeners. He truly understood the importance of media to a community.