Voices of youth from Crossing Borders and Ghana Community Radio Network youth advocacy project
Edna comes from the western region, more precisely the mining area of Tarkwa. Edna heard about CR activity through an NGO that was active in her area. Edna does not have a professional media background.
Initially she didn't even know what a CR was, she just knew that she wanted to be a journalist, and gradually she discovered that working with a CR could help her to be part of her society, and that she through a CR could get access to her society and use media to help her society develop and get access to e.g. health information.
Edna comes from the Wassa people originally from the forest in the western region, currently constituting a third of the population in the area. Because of the mineral resources the area has experienced an influx of a lot of other people.
Edna and many of her fellow community members are concerned about how they can take care of their own culture and not the least, their own language.
"I am a Wassa girl, but I can't speak the language", Edna says. "I speak Fante, or what we normally call Wassa-Fante". Because of mineral resources such as gold and manganese it is no longer a typically rural area, but rather more peri-urban.
The idea behind Fiaseman CR initiative is to set up the CR in an indigenous community, where people - because of mining industry – have lost their sense of originality.
The younger generations have lost their language, because of influx from other cultures coming to work in the mining industry, so now the idea is to bring originality back and rediscover their identity.
When asked about whether Radio Fiaseman intends to transmit in Wassa language, Edna confirms that this is the plan, but also to have transmissions in Fante, because as Edna puts it "Those people have come to live with us, so we can't leave them out".
There are a lot of old people who are ready to pass on their knowledge and many are asking for when the community can expect to be granted a radio frequency. This is not a new struggle as the Fiaseman initiative has been fighting for the rights to obtain a license to broadcast from Tarkwa in the Western Province since 2008.
In the meantime the chiefs and elders have donated a piece of land to build the CR, so when the authorisation is secured; the local resources are ready to start.
Although representatives from the older generations are encouraging the survival of the indigenous culture in the form of language and customs, one could maybe ask what is in it for the youth, and what kind of prospects can be foreseen if we look into the future?
Edna can tell that there has been a participatory community process where different age groups brought their ideas, not just about how to keep the culture, but also on how to introduce other aspects such as education and politics, to secure youth involvement.
Edna's vision is that 5 -10 years from now Radio Fiaseman is on-air, the whole community is able to speak the local language, which in turn will bring unity, self-discovery and development.
As of now, there are major environmental problems as a consequence of the mining industry, but with the Radio Fiaseman on-air, more people will be able to tune in the radio and be educated on e.g. environmental or maternal health issues, and thereby be aware of how they can contribute to environmental protection or securing of their livelihoods.
Edna underlines that the people behind the Fiaseman initiative are all laymen, and hence, will appreciate any kind of assistance from those with more experience or resources.
Being part of the GCRN network is of great help, also because there are already 4 commercial stations existing in the Tarkwa area, and Radio Fiaseman must be able to stand out as a solid CR initiative, where the local population is involved and takes ownership of the radio activities.
"It's a real struggle to keep the group in shape, but we know this is important and our community needs a local non-commercial voice, so we will not give up", says Edna with a big smile.
Text by Runa Midtvåge