Senegal’s girls folk-hotfoot radio stations broadcast for peace


Ziguinchor, Senegal – On a scorching, steamy day in Ziguinchor, a minute coastal city in Senegal’s southern Casamance recount, 31-year-historical Marie Leocadie Coly walks into a recording studio, activates the fan and puts on her headphones.

On the signal of the producer sitting on the support of the glass window, Coly begins to talk into the microphone.

“Welcome to Radio Kassumay, the radio of Girls for Peace and Model of the Casamance,” Coly says cheerfully as she begins her stay, one-hour broadcast.

Coly is one among the Fifty two feminine newshounds who fabricate up the Network of Community Radios for Peace and Model in Casamance, a crew of 18 radio stations hotfoot fully by girls folk that span all over Senegal’s southern recount, which home to one among Africa’s oldest separatist actions.

Since the introduction of the principle recount in 2004, the declares comprise became an distinguished platform for the promotion of peace within the country.

“The radio [stations] comprise played a key role in breaking the dialog barrier between opposing facets within the Casamance battle,” says Abdou Sarr, director of World Education, a non-profit organisation that funds a entire lot of peacemaking programmes in Senegal, along side the radio network says.

“However our procedure shall be to repeat and empower girls folk, who play a key role within the peacemaking route of,” Sarr provides.

Three-decade long battle

Casamance is separated from the rest of Senegal by The Gambia. Ethnic and spiritual variations between the two areas, as well to a sense of enterprise and political marginalisation from the rest of the country ended in the upward thrust of an independence motion in Casamance in 1982. 

Thousands of of us had been killed within the larger than three-decade long battle and tens of thousands had been displaced, essentially based fully on the UN.

Whereas the Creep of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) and the Senegalese army declared a unilateral ceasefire in 2014, violent clashes comprise endured to plot close recount in most as much as date years.

Within the recording studio, a ceiling-excessive board displays Radio Kassumay’s weekly programming. Conflict and unsuitable-border points, faith, youngsters’s rights, girls folk’s rights, and disability are about a of the segments featured.

Intercalated between these are blocks of music featuring a wide series of genres from local music and chorus singing to American hip hop.

The girls folk broadcast their message in larger than 15 languages all around the country [Lucia He/Al Jazeera]

The radio reveals, which are recorded in 17 varied local languages, analysis to promote dialogue amongst varied communities within the country to foster a sense of team spirit.

“Folks here [in Casamance] mediate that they’ll now not be in actuality a a part of Senegal,” says Aminata Mane, a girls folk’s rights activist and reporter at Radio Kassumay.

“This radio is a tool for all of Senegal’s population to keep up a correspondence, whether or now not you seemingly might perhaps well very properly be Wolof or Jola. We must give a floor to the authorities and your total population to replace opinions, so that all people understands what others are asserting,” Mane provides.

Aim of ladies folk

One of many distinguished systems of the radio stations has been to plot close perfect thing about a cultural custom queer to the Casamance recount: the historical role girls folk comprise played in battle prevention and backbone in Jola communities.

Whereas simplest 4 % of the population in Senegal is Jola, it’s miles the predominant ethnic crew in Casamance. The Jola essentially practise oldschool beliefs.

“Whereas girls folk are on the total highly respected in Wolof and other Senegalese and African traditions, it’s now not documented that they play a distinguished role in cases of battle in any of these traditions,” says Ousmane Sene, director of the West African Compare Heart.

“However amongst Jola of us, girls folk are known to be peacemakers,” Sene provides. “If there’s a dispute of their villages, they’ll threaten to undo their loincloths unless the dispute is settled. Many ladies folk are also believed to be endowed with particular spiritual powers.”

Past radio

Moreover the exercise of their voices to promote dialogue, girls folk within the recount had been main other on-the-ground initiatives to be certain long-term peace and balance within the recount. 

The Platform of Girls for Peace in Casamance is an umbrella organisation that brings together the work of a hundred and seventy member associations and over 2,500 girls folk all over Casamance.

In Ziguinchor, the platform runs a entire lot of rehabilitation centres that provide health and psychological red meat as much as victims of the battle who continually face rape, gender violence, amputation from landmines, and displacement.

“At any time when there is a war, a girl’s physique turns into the battlefield,” Ndeye Marie Diedhiou, coordinator of the platform, says. “We plot close care of these victims and prepare them and other girls folk in dialog and negotiation abilities, in stammer that they’ll return to their communities and elevate consciousness about the implications of the war.”

Kabonketoor, one other organisation that’s a part of the platform, has assign in recount programmes in over 30 villages to empower girls folk economically and politically. They prepare girls folk in actions equivalent to cattle breeding and palm tree harvesting, and serve girls folk to plot close a part of their local governments.

Financial sustainability

Back on the radio recount in Ziguinchor, Coly and Mane join their colleagues within the building’s patio role, the place a entire lot of girls folk are cracking cashews and packing them in minute plastic luggage.

A minute room interior reach acts as a retailer the place the girls folk sell varied local merchandise, along side baobab juice, dry fish and spices.

Kassumay Radio, which is fully hotfoot by volunteers, had been largely financed by the US Agency for Global Model (USAID) since its founding in terms of 15 years ago.

However final year, the organisation stopped receiving funds from USAID without explanation. 

Since then the girls folk comprise taken up cashew-harvesting and created a grocery store to aid be certain their financial autonomy.

No matter the shift in funding, Mane says she is optimistic that the organisation shall be ready to continue to feature thru other replace fundraising actions.

She provides that even though an excellent deal of progress has been made, there might perhaps be level-headed work to be performed.

“We are in a position to’t state that the battle has fully resulted in Casamance, but thanks to ladies folk, things comprise calmed down,” Mane says.

Reporting for this piece was once supported by the Global Reporting Project (IRP).

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