A Canadian broadcaster, David Smith, has established a radio station focused at combating Boko Haram insurgency and its ideology.
The channel, Dandal Kura, will air on shortwave from Nigeria to discourage people from violence.
Dandal Kura, Kanuri words for meeting point, targets mainly the Kanuri and Hausa-speaking communities of Nigeria where Boko Haram has conducted a brutal insurgency since 2009.
Mr. Smith, a veteran crisis and conflict news reporter, distinguished himself by setting up radio stations in crisis areas to preach the gospel of peaceful coexistence in war-torn areas.
He cut his journalism teeth during the Apartheid in South Africa in 1985, and despite being of Canadian descent, worked for the ANC-owned radio station, Capital Radio, against the P.W. Botha-led National Party.
Mr. Smith describes Apartheid as “terrorism”.
He set up the first UN-supported conflict-zone radio in the Balkan region in the 90s during the war in Yugoslavia, and later established a similar project in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, CAR.
With the huge success recorded in educating the people to eschew violence in CAR, he set Radio Bar-Kulan (meaning a meeting place in the local language) in Somalia, and later established Radio Okapi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
With terrorism ravaging the Lake Chad Basin – an area covering parts of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroun – the broadcaster established Dandal Kura in Nigeria.
Speaking when he visited PREMIUM TIMES recently, the Media Advisor of Dandal Kura Radio, David Smith, said the station targets about 9 million people in the Lake Chad basin.
Mr. Smith, who once worked with the UN on media projects in conflict zones, said the major target audience of Dandal Kura Radio were states affected by the Boko Haram crisis.
He said although the station informs and entertain the people on routine issues, the thematic area of the its programming was largely on peace building.
He said Dandal Kura Radio broadcasts in Kanuri language in order to give people “sense of belonging and ownership”.
He said other areas of the station’s focus were Eastern Niger area of Diffa, the Northern Cameroon area of Marwa, Northern Chad, noting that the station had correspondents in these areas.
“We have network of correspondents in states affected by the Boko Haram activity, and also in neighbouring states,” he said.
“Interestingly, because I travel a lot to N’jamena where I am in talks with the Multi-National Joint Task Force and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, I come across a lot of Kanuri speaking people in N’jamena, there is a large Kanuri speaking IDPs in N’jamena.
“I didn’t know they existed until I started visiting the Lake Chad Commission, and all the Kanuri speaking people in N’jamena started to find me to tell me how much they appreciated Dandal Kura, and wanted to contribute in it.
“Interestingly, because we broadcast on shortwave, and shortwave covers a vast area, I can say even in South Africa, I can pick up Dandal Kura.
“We have a large following in South Sudan and other areas because of the Kanuri speaking people in the Juba area, as well as the Khartoum area. Because of the traditional and historical reasons, people travelling on overland route to Mecca find themselves settling in Khartoum.”
According to him, there are estimated 9 million Kanuri speakers in the Lake Chad basin, and that Dandal Kura Radio is the only radio station that mainly broadcasts in Kanuri.
He said the station was currently operating in Kano for security reasons, assuring that the station would soon move to Maiduguri, where he called the “the heart of the Kanuri speaking world”.
The station currently operates for six hours – from 6am to 8am on 7415KHz in the 41 metre band; 8am to 9am on 15480 KHz in the 19metre band; and 7 to 10pm on 11830 KHz in the 25 metre band.