Yahya Sonko, a young Gambian who embarked on the perilous Backway journey to Europe in 2015, has opened a new radio station in his native Niumi.
A prominent refugee activist in Baden Württemberg, Germany, where he lives since 2016, Mr Sonko said the role of the new Niumi FM radio will be focused on issues geared towards improving the lives of the people of Niumi and its environs.
The former teacher said: “The radio will play a significant role at the grass roots level for rural development. For instance, issues of poverty, agriculture, gender inequality, education, migration, social problems among others could be the focus for programming. In exploring the importance of sharing information locally and the opening up of wider information networks for farmers in North Bank of The Gambia with reference to vernacular radio programmes, our radio will be very effective in improving the sharing of agricultural information by remote rural farming communities.”
Mr Sonko expressed hope that Niumi FM brings about a shift in development paradigm towards a more participatory style of information and knowledge transfer.
“As the CEO and founder, i can identify Niumi FM Radio as an avenue for participatory communication and as a tool relevant in both economic and social development,” the young, who is in his early thirties, asserted.
He said the radio is a not-for-profit entity.
“Our radio will act as a vehicle for the community and voluntary sector, civil society, agencies, NGOs and citizens to work in partnership to promote community development. By the core aims and objectives of this model of broadcasting, Niumi FM Radio stations will often serve their listeners by offering a variety of content that is not necessarily provided by the larger commercial radio stations.”
According to Mr Sonko, the radio will also provide media training for young people of the area and other interested groups.
“The exchanging of information, networking of groups, the provision of skills and training… these undoubtedly are key elements of developing a community. This radio will be for the people, run by the people and owned by the people. It will enhance the capacities of local people to work together to tackle a range of social problems, including poverty and exclusion through radio,” he assured.