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Kenya: Mtaani Radio by local people have become the voice of Nairobi’s Dagoretti area since its Founding 3 Years ago

The 100-watt station broadcasts both in Swahili and Sheng, a dialect favored by local youths. It reaches an estimated 5,000 listeners

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Mtaani radio serves about 5,000 listeners in the Dagoretti area of Nairobi, Kenya. (Courtesy image) VOA

Mtaani Radio has become the voice of Nairobi’s Dagoretti area since its founding three years ago. The station serves the community, making announcements about lost children, calling out pickpockets and lobbying politicians to keep to their promises.

Mtaani is Swahili slang for “our ghetto.” The 100-watt station broadcasts both in Swahili and Sheng, a dialect favored by local youths. It reaches an estimated 5,000 listeners.

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Kelvin Nyangweso grew up in this deprived area of Nairobi and developed the station as an initiative to inspire and empower young people – the majority of its listeners, he said.

“We felt like there were a lot of issues that can be highlighted and the message can reach to more people, because Dagorreti itself has a population of 240,000,” Nyangweso said. “… So can you imagine the message that’s being aired on the radio can transform this person who is listening to the radio.”

Kelvin Nyangweso: Mtaani radio is a brain child of Kevin,who grew up in Dagoretti,a deprived area of Nairobi where this radio broadcasts, Dec. 14, 2016. (Photo: R.Ombour/VOA)
Kelvin Nyangweso: Mtaani radio is a brain child of Kevin,who grew up in Dagoretti,a deprived area of Nairobi where this radio broadcasts, Dec. 14, 2016. (Photo: R.Ombour/VOA)

Nyangweso started the station using a transmitter donated by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO. The station gets financial support mostly from well-wishers, using the money for rent and electricity. He said financial donors continue to give because they’ve seen positive impact on the community.

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All nine Mtaani Radio journalists live in Dagoretti and donate their time.

Tebby Otieno, who has been with the radio station for three years, said she volunteers because she believes in the power of communication.

Tebby Otieno is a presenter at Mtaani Radio.She hosts a weekly shows that mainly talk about the issues faced by residents of Dagoretti area where the radio broadcasts, Dec. 14, 2016. (Photo: R.Ombour/VOA)
Tebby Otieno is a presenter at Mtaani Radio.She hosts a weekly shows that mainly talk about the issues faced by residents of Dagoretti area where the radio broadcasts, Dec. 14, 2016. (Photo: R.Ombour/VOA)

“When I am walking around and hear people talking about things they are going through and what is affecting them, that’s the topic I will come talk [about] in the studio,” Otieno says. “As a journalist, I believe when I talk about it, maybe it’s an issue about insecurity here or water shortage, if I talk about it they will feel like issues affecting them are being handled.”

Through her show, Otieno lobbied local politicians to build a local road and improve street lighting for better security. Two years later, there is a paved road and good lighting.

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Some residents say the journalists or presenters have become their spokespeople.

One listener, Alex Opondo, said Mtaani Radio’s coverage of issues such as gender-based violence and insecurity spurs improvements.

Once a problem “is reported to the Mtaani Radio, they do take action because most of the time they do not just leave the issue that way,” said Alex Opondo, an ardent listener.

Organizers say they hope the station eventually will be able to offer paid staff positions and to have the ability to reach other parts of Nairobi. (VOA)

Next Story

Claiming Bias, U.S.A. And Israel Pull Out Of UNESCO

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

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The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen druing a conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2017. VOA

The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

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UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

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Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

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Israel Flag, Pixabay

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

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The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)