Kudos to the radioman

Kudos to the radioman

Winnie is gone, and if one is to view the condolences flowing in on the live news spreads on the telly, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was indeed a great figure: she lives on in our minds and eyes of the soul. I am sad that she is gone, that old girl was beautiful, and she could talk sense in times when the best kind of talk was fear and segregation.

She stood by her man’s credo even after he was marooned on Robben Island with the rest of the others whose pattern of thought was bold enough to question the credibility of racial segregation as a means to govern a land of such cultural diversity that was made common in the city centres where most went a carpet-bagging.

When the cities sprung from deep within the belly of the earth where the yellow metal the colour of Amen Ra’s sun, they were built with the sweat, the blood, and the tears of the black masses from the homelands. These figures were only rewarded with being second-class citizens in the land of their forefathers; Winnie Mandela openly spoke against this maltreatment on the basis of race, class, and gender until her passing.

Nomzamo captured Nelson Mandela’s attention, and the question one can pose is: What kind of man wouldn’t be struck by lightning as The Godfather’s Michael Corleone is after seeing Apollonia if they came across Nomzamo? Winnie is gone, and the best we can do is reminisce in these days of the wait for the world to change; if it ever will.

We have the benefit of living in the era of multiple mediums of communication and can therefore not afford to use ignorance as a defence. In the world of mass media, there are papers (printed and electronic) to read on the current state of affairs in any part of the world one has an interest. There is the television with its countless news channels transmitting visual images of the going on in the world.

Television has turned out to be the most sought-after mode of accessing the current events unfolding in the world. This 1926 Scottish (John Logie Baird) invention has captured the attention of the world, from news to talk-shows, soapies to reality-shows, and cartoons for the young ones who have somehow managed to capture the remote control in many a house one comes across on the daily journeys.

The internet is somehow still in the catching up stages in this country, its use as a tool of knowledge acquisition being largely limited to social-media websites and not that much in the way of invention, innovation, and research.
This means that the internet is used largely as a tool of gossip and not a medium across which vital information can be passed and accessed. The satellites are kept busy in their orbits in outer space, transmitting pictures and sounds we use as information. One voice has however stayed constant, the voice of all the ages of man’s history; the voice of the radio man.

One cannot escape the feeling of nostalgia that comes with the memory of the radio series of the past decades, the talk sessions between the broadcaster (DJ) and some celebrity of the moment, the electrical soccer matches between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs one could hear the impeccable Thabo Kofa share with the townships, suburbs, and villages of southern Africa.

Out of all these, the most prominent in my mind are the music programmes that lit up the sky in the mind of the village boy who could be in America in a flash from the lyrics of the Commodores singing Night Shift in the middle of the night.
My uncle never switched the radio off, and I picked up the habit and never let go; I am hooked on the voice of the radioman lulling me to sleep and guiding me across the vast scintillating landscapes of dreamland where one can be what the voices on the radio are telling them that they can be.

It is the thrill of the moment to hear the latest news on the radio, it is piety expressed and broadcast to the world to hear the sermons of the preachers of the moment. In Short-wave, Medium-wave, Frequency Modulation and other new-age frequencies, the voice of the man talking to the world from the confines of the studio plays on in one’s mind.

What the figure talking on radio does is to ignite the imagination of the listener, describing in clear words the events going on, the changes occurring as the world turns, the core discussions on the state of the affairs of the different communities the station reaches, the current news of the moment, in short, what radio does is to become the voice of the voiceless, a storyteller who speaks incessantly for all of the 24 hours of the day with no silent gaps in between; the story on the radio is the story of the world metamorphosing into the history of the human race.

There are different stations on different frequencies and all of them pass the message on to the world without repose. Without fear or favour of the current occurrence, the radioman transmits news to the audience of listeners waiting on the world to change in the hardest of times.
What Guglielmo Marconi and company must have realised was that the story the letter told oftentimes came too late, that there was a need to relay message on as the event in perspective was unfolding.

Without radio, the world would still be walking in the snail-pace movements of the past eras in history where the postman on a horse was the only means through which individuals and communities could keep in touch with each other.
Radio bridged that gap and has now reached the stage where even the concerns of the simple people are broadcast in the moment that they occur.

The argument is that radio is oftentimes used as the tool of propaganda, and one can agree if they are to observe radio from within the borders of a polarised state. However, one can also argue that the same kind of propaganda one hears on radio is actually the different levels of thought of the nation. Turning the dial across the different radio stations with their different news policies can actually open one’s eyes to the different viewpoints from varying sides of society.

It is no use to think that only one side stands in the right all the time, what the radio personality does is to play the role of the middle-man (intercessor) between differing sides to establish a point of common understanding salient to the finding of solutions to common and serious social and government problems.

Ostracising one side of radio and piling praises on another is simply hypocritical; for the truth of the matter is that all should listen if the basic aim of their listening is to gain clear understanding into issues discussed or are prevalent.
This is one of the reasons why a character like I am believes in turning the dial across the different radio stations to understand clearly what it is that is of concern to the society we live in.

Oftentimes, we carry the kinds of one-sided opinions we do because we have not heard what other individuals see, and their opinions on radio actually enlighten us with regard to what the gist of the matter under discussion may be.
I spoke of a voice in the wilderness, and I wrote Astray based on the concept of what radio does in the spreading of the news to the world. The basic truth about radio is that it does not, as is the common argument in present-day Lesotho, incite thoughts of sedition or acts of treason in the citizens that get to listen to some of the programmes on various radio stations.

What radio does is to address the concerns of such citizens as may be heard on the programmes that serve as platforms of expression for the different sides of society in a democratic state. Assuming that the voices on the radio criticising one side of government do so simply because they want to see its fall is reminiscent to thinking that one is always right, which cannot always be the case in such a huge social entity as the state.

The song Iron Sharpening Iron by the reggae band Culture speaks of the necessity for two differing sides to sometimes disagree so that problematic issues can be fleshed out in full. In the era when we had only the national radio-station as the primary broadcaster, only pro-government opinions were heard, only the ruling class had a voice.

Without opposition, an idea or policy may at the end of the day turn out to be biased in its implementation or expression; thus the need for different voices that include the voices of the plebeian masses as it was in the original open parliaments of Classical Greece where modern democracy was founded.

Pioneers of independent radio like Ratabane Ramainoane of Mo-Afrika Fm, PC FM, Harvest FM, and others came along with a platform on which the common man could address his or her concerns on the state of affairs unfolding in the kingdom.
Such figures should be honoured for daring to open the ground for the suggestions of the ordinary citizen to be used in effecting change in the different communities that are resident in the craggy mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

I find it deplorable that one shall express their annoyance at some of the opinions expressed on such open platforms as independent radio stations.
This is in simplest terms nonsensical because what it means is that one believes that only the opinions of the individual, their group, party, or organisation are right (which is not in reality the case with fallible human character, for God is the only one that is absolute in terms of righteousness).
There is therefore the need for one as a speaker or listener to open their mind to the fact that they may be wrong in the execution of certain issues that necessitates correction by other compatriots to reach a point of stability in terms of social relations.

This stability is what ensures the advent of progress, the progress we need in a democratic society. We cannot therefore afford to shut out voices as is done in autocracies of the world where dictators rule.
A self-righteous attitude is often one of the symptoms of megalomania, and the radioman stands to correct the emergence of such tendencies in the leader-class of society.

North and western African societies have griots who come as poets that can either praise the ruler if he or she is righteous in their rule, or, the griot can come as the messenger that bears the opinions of the society on injustices they believe are being meted on them by the ruling class.
Griots are honoured for their role as the vessels of the concerns of the masses; the radioman should thus be honoured too for his role as an open stream of enlightenment on the full breadth of what is unfolding in society.

Without information, man is ignorant, and ignorance begets the wrong decisions. We are subconsciously guided by what we hear, and it is what we hear that leads us to points of harmony as a human community; if only we listen for the sake of understanding and not answering.
Those mavericks of the air often afford us the opportunity to throw in our penny when it comes to the discussion of issues that really affect us as a society by offering their slots on air as platforms for the unravelling of issues that may often look complex when viewed from one side.

In those early years of my life, the voice on the radio gave me the art of storytelling, taught me of good music, gave me news on current events, preached sermons on the good word, gave me the chance to wish loved ones well, and acknowledged me for my loyalty to the voices on the various radio stations.

With radio, one is never the outsider but is a part of a large audience made up of different individuals with varying characters and personalities who all come to listen to the programme and give their wishes and their opinions for the sake of maintaining the interconnectedness of human society.
The kudu horn (lenaka, shofar) was blown before church bells came a tolling to call the pious and the pagan to church, to union, to council, and to court.

Radio serves as the kudu horn to keep us constantly aware of the world we all are living in and we therefore should be grateful that there are still present that are fanning the fire of community as found on radio. There is nothing much we can do except to thank the voice on radio.
Kudos to the radioman/ girl/ boy/ woman whose voice keeps us connected . . .

By Tsepiso S Mothibi

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