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Somalia: Somali radio on peace mission
an article by Rashid Abdi, Daily Nation (abridged)

A leading FM radio station has begun broadcasting peace messages to the Somali community.

Over 30 Somali youth groups in Nairobi have merged to advocate peace

click on photo to enlarge

The messages ask community members to restore peace and security to the troubled Eastleigh in Nairobi where business has been paralysed in four weeks of security crackdown.

“Beware that if you are not working for peace, you are working for conflict. Let us all collectively work for peace,” says a short clip aired 10 times every day at prime time on Star FM.

The clip continues: “The sound you just heard is one you may not want to hear. It signifies insecurity. Peace is the foundation of life... Live in peace with your neighbours... This message was brought to you by Star FM, the voice of northeastern region.”

The commercial station, which broadcasts from the rooftop of Eastleigh Shopping Mall, has a huge following in northern Kenya and parts of Somalia. A recent audience survey shows that 65 per cent of Somalis in Kenya listen to the radio regularly.

The station’s listenership has grown fast in four years and extended its reach by building more transmitters in the northern counties. It re-broadcasts major international radio news stations such as the VoA and the BBC. It also airs one-hour daily programmes in Kiswahili and Boran.

“Our aim is to bring people together. We need peace and without peace, there can be no development. Business cannot flourish in the absence of peace,” Mr Mohammed Osman, the radio’s managing director told the Nation.

Mr Osman said the Somali community was an oral society and radio was a powerful tool of communication, an ideal medium for advancing the “culture of peace”, tolerance and mutual co-existence.

He said the peace message was a “social responsibility” initiative by the management in the wake of the recent unrest and was not funded by the government or any organisation.

He said there was evidence that radio had a big influence in restoring peace between warring communities. He cited a case in which the radio’s special peace messages at the height of the Garre-Degodia clashes in Mandera County in 2013 had “a calming effect” and contributed to the peace accord between the two Somali clans.

“The restoration of peace and security is not a job for the State alone. We Somalis must also actively contribute positively and our special peace appeals are just a small part,” Mr Osman said.


Question(s) related to this article:

African journalism and the culture of peace, A model for the rest of the world?

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Latest reader comment:

CPNN continues to find that African journalists give priority to culture of peace news, unlike media in much of the world that give priority to violence.  Here are some of the articles published previously:

Journalists from Northern Cameroon Reinforce Communication for Peace

Culture of Peace Featured in Most Recent Issue of Afrique Démocratie

Launch of the network of journalists for peace and security in Africa (Netpeace)

This report was posted on April 28, 2014.