New Era (Windhoek)

Tanzania: Birth of the Voice of Namibia in Tanzania

opinion

THERE exists, to date, no exhaustive chronological record of the multilingual birth of the dynamic, educative and informative Voice of Namibia radio station that became popular with the oppressed majority of our people throughout the years before the systematic and indoctrinating colonial South West Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC) was brought into existence by Pretoria in a futile attempt to put a human face to apartheid.

There were many multilingual men and women members of the liberation movement who played a pivotal role in disseminating news about the genuine aims and objectives of the movement for freedom - and the list is too long and can only be fairly rendered in a well-researched document or book.

I am also aware of some circulating 'rumours' that certain former members of the Voice of Namibia are said to have compiled papers, or theses or books on the subject under discussion, but I have most probably been unfortunate not to have come across a single paper or book or thesis by my former media workers of that era.

Archives in many parts of the globe have records on various developments in the sphere of radio, television and newspapers - in short, the media plus other fields. The theme of my general opinion piece today was stimulated by Charles Mubita's data exhibition in one local English daily recently that caused my thoughts to swiftly travel long distance into the past.

Available data reveal that in 1960, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Belgium and Portugal began regular transmissions, which were beamed to Africa as the continent became a political battleground for an international 'war of words'. Many independent African countries made their radio facilities available to the freedom fighters and the ANC of South Africa and SWAPO of Namibia were two of the many liberation movements granted the opportunity to be in touch with their members and supporters through the airwaves.

It must be stated here that the said movements' transmissions were actively monitored by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) from the outset. However, the battle from the side of the freedom fighters continued until final victory. The German Democratic Republic (GDR) came into being following the end of the World War II - a war started by the demonic (for lack of a better word) Austrian-born Adolf Hitler. Germany was divided into two parts, the other half being called the German Federal Republic.

The historic city of Berlin where I lived and studied was divided into four zones - one zone became the capital of the GDR. Now, Germany is united once more and the chances of starting a Third World War are for the time being not yet obvious! This author worked for Radio Berlin International's (RBI) transmission to Africa in English; wrote commentaries against the evils of colonialism, interviewed politicians. And all that, while studying journalism. "Das Kapital" was my political lullaby throughout that period! I returned to Africa to help launch the Voice of Namibia in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1966.

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