New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Birth of the Voice of Namibia (part 2)

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IN 1963 - prior to my departure for Berlin in the German Democratic Republic - I was one of three people who were invited for 'voice tests' at the studios of the Tanganyika Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) in Dar es Salaam and our voices - Bella Schimming, Herman Nangolo Iithete and I were found to be 'suitable' for broadcasting.

Other persons from the liberation movement were selected for the radio work, because all three of us left for studies overseas.

Shortly after my arrival from Europe coinciding somehow with Moses Garoeb's return to Africa from the United States of America, the two of us were requested to start a 15-minute programme, which we called the 'Namibian Hour' and we compiled and transmitted commentaries mainly in English on a variety of pertinent issues originating from both our pens. Other liberation movements were given equal time on the air.

Our host country had undergone a name change in the meanwhile and had become the United Republic of Tanzania following the successful Zanzibari Revolution of 1964. The name of the country's national radio broadcasting system became known as Radio Tanzania - Dar es Salaam and Radio Tanzania - Zanzibar when it transmits via the Islands, I think.

The Voice of Namibia came into being around 1967 - I cannot remember correctly without my notes that were destroyed in the military attack against the African Liberation Centre in Lusaka, Zambia by soldiers of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) chief, Ian Smith years later.

I became the first supervisor/producer/commentator, with a little bit of help from one or two people when they were around. Garoeb had by then taken up full-time work at the liberation movement's provisional headquarters in Dar es Salaam and we also had to jointly produce "Namibia Today" regularly.

There were about 50 Namibian students at the African American Institute (AAI) School at Mgulani, a part of the city of Dar es Salaam, but there were moments when I had to write commentaries in English and then translate them into Afrikaans, Otjiherero and Oshiwambo for weeks on end without extra help.

The 'Namibian Hour' had already expanded into what became the Voice of Namibia when we started broadcasting from Zambia in 1973, and it had then changed its name in Tanzania for I was transferred to Lusaka to be in charge of the station there as everybody probably remembers.

The Voice of Namibia spread to a number of independent countries too. The issue of the Voice Namibia has to be researched thoroughly by comparing notes in order to come up with a reliable document. I am available to provide more information on VON when approached, since I am busy compiling a document on exile-related matters.

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