In Zimbabwe, “if you want to hear the truth…listen to Shortwave Radio Africa…listen to VOA”

This is a brilliant piece on the lack of press freedom in Zimbabwe and the importance of shortwave radio. It was broadcast yesterday on Weekend All Things Considered. Links to the show and audio are below.

(Source: NPR)

In Seke, a rural community 40 miles outside Harare, James Chidakwa and his father eat roasted nuts and cornmeal inside a small brick hut. They’re farmers who rely heavily on maize and chickens to survive. James Chidakwa says that like many, his family refuses to listen to government TV or radio broadcasts.

“They always lie to the people,” he says. “Everything they say is a lie.”

So at 6 p.m. most evenings, they turn on a battery-powered, short-wave radio and tune in to a “pirate radio station.” Chidakwa says Shortwave Radio Africa and Voice of America are their favorites.

“If you want to hear the truth, wait for the end of the day to listen to Shortwave Radio Africa, to listen to VOA,” he says.

The stations, which are based in the U.K. and the U.S., send their signals through radio towers in countries that border Zimbabwe. That means Zimbabwean officials — who claim these broadcasts are illegal — have little recourse. In the past, they’ve confiscated short-wave radios. Chidakwa says that forces some people to listen undercover.

“Some of them, they will take the radios into their bedrooms and, low volume, they listen to the news. But the truth is, there is fear in them,” he says.

But for Chidakwa and his father, it’s a risk they are prepared to take.

The stations, which are based in the U.K. and the U.S., send their signals through radio towers in countries that border Zimbabwe. That means Zimbabwean officials — who claim these broadcasts are illegal — have little recourse. In the past, they’ve confiscated short-wave radios. Chidakwa says that forces some people to listen undercover.

“Some of them, they will take the radios into their bedrooms and, low volume, they listen to the news. But the truth is, there is fear in them,” he says.

But for Chidakwa and his father, it’s a risk they are prepared to take.

You can listen to the full story from Weekend All Things Considered, by clicking here (mp3), or read the transcript on this page.

This is just one more story we’ll file under “Why Shortwave Radio.”

RCI, and others, I wish you were listening. Those in Zimbabwe certainly are.

This entry was posted in Broadcasters, Clandestine, News, Shortwave Radio and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to In Zimbabwe, “if you want to hear the truth…listen to Shortwave Radio Africa…listen to VOA”

  1. Mike S says:

    The thing about this is, you never know when YOU will be the one in the country that forbids disagreement. They can firewall your internet. But you can’t capture radio waves. You can jam, of course, and jam they will, if they can afford to. But they can’t jam everything, and there are principles like harmonics that can get around it too. Other than word of mouth, it’s hard to be beat long-range radio like shortwave to deliver information to the oppressed.

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