Over Labor Day weekend, throngs of football fans took to the streets in Bangui, Central African Republic, to celebrate the victory of their national team over rivals from Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a rare moment of jubilation for a population coping with months of violence, hardship, and uncertainty.
Claude, a listener from Ndele, in the North East of the Central African Republic, couldn’t contain his joy. “You brought happiness to us after so many years! Thank you so much Radio Ndeke Luka!” One of the thousands of listeners who were celebrating CAR’s win over the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Football Africa Cup of Nations 2017 playoffs, Claude could follow this event thanks to Radio Ndeke Luka’s live broadcast across the country. In Bambari – where the football match seemed to halt tensions between communities – and Bouar, Berberati and also from abroad, exuberant fans called into the radio to express their gratitude for the coverage. “Without Radio Ndeke Luka, we wouldn’t have a national celebration today. It was just incredible to see people dressed in the national flag in the streets of Bangui”, said a government advisor.
Radio Ndeke Luka’s coverage of the match reminds us of the central place of Hirondelle media in the lives of the populations we serve. When citizens go to the polls in the coming months, the radio’s professionalism, credibility and proximity to the population will help defuse tensions and combat rumours, inform the population on the issues and organisation of the elections and provide a platform for diverse views and opinions.
Photo: Jean-Luc Mootoosamy, Central African Republic