Human Rights and African Airwaves: Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio

Human Rights and African Airwaves: Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio

Human Rights and African Airwaves: Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio

Human Rights and African Airwaves: Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio

Synopsis

Human Rights and African Airwaves focuses on Nkhani Zam'maboma, a popular Chichewa news bulletin broadcast on Malawi's public radio. The program often takes authorities to task and questions much of the human rights rhetoric that comes from international organizations. Highlighting obligation and mutual dependence, the program expresses, in popular idioms and local narrative forms, grievances and injustices that are closest to Malawi's impoverished public. Harri Englund reveals broadcasters' everyday struggles with state-sponsored biases and a listening public with strong views and a critical ear. This fresh look at African-language media shows how Africans effectively confront inequality, exploitation, and poverty.

Excerpt

Palibe cholakwika, “nothing is wrong,” Yohane Banda assured the bbc in an interview in 2006. the father of Madonna’s African child feared that the pop star would send the child back to poverty in Malaŵi if she became angry with human rights activists’ complaints about the illegalities of the adoption case. the child would return to crushing hardship, a life of tedium and deprivation that could spell his early demise. Would the human rights activists feed the child once the clamor of the high-profile case had died down?

Banda’s words in Chicheŵa, Malaŵi’s most widely spoken language and a regional lingua franca, were barely audible amid the fury of English-speaking human rights activists in Malaŵi and elsewhere. Their viewpoints were readily juxtaposed in the world media with Madonna’s claims to compassion. Not only did the poorly formulated legislation and Malaŵi’s failure to be a signatory to the convention on transnational adoptions expose the country to the whims of the rich and the famous. According to activists, Madonna’s aims and methods were also morally wrong. Commenting on her alleged choice of the child from . . .

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