In Southern Sudan there are several FM radio stations of which most are community FM stations. In Juba there are about 6 FM stations, amongst them is Radio Miraya. James Ohisa takes Miraya listeners down the memory lane.
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Miraya is an Arabic word for mirror. Radio Miraya then known as Miraya FM was first inaugurated on Monday 26th June 2006, the day it first hit the air waves with our presenter and reporter Shila Keji Modi accompanied by the President of Southern Sudan Salva Kir and the UN special representative for Sudan Jan Pronk.
Clip: Miraya's first day on the air waves with Shilla Keji Modi.
" Mr. president you are well come and are privileged having you in our studio I just want to know what is the kind of music you like , so that we play it for you. Well I like hearing music but unfortunately; I am forgetting the types of music I like, so that we play it for you. What about Mr. PRONK what which kinds do you like. I am very fond of Jazz and in particular African Jazz, South African Jazz Dollar Brands, and Abdullah Ibrahim it would be great. We will make sure we play it for you... Short music Dolly rots with my best friend is hot."
The first anniversary to mark the on air launch of Radio Miraya was attended by a number of dignitaries from different NGOs as well as high ranking government officials . The opening speech was delivered by the then Chief of Radio Miraya; Leon Williams.
Clip: LEON WILLIAMS
" It is an honor for us in the UN Radio to see so many of you coming here to the start of our radio broadcast operation in Sudan it shows the importance that al of your grant to the dissemination of information the people of Sudan and an honor and privilege to our contribution to peace in Sudan, for the greater of which this radio was created we have to many for this possible. Ladies and gentlemen hand over the microphone guided by your applause to that man, the minister of information his Excellency Dr. Samson Kwaje."
As people got excited with the Miraya launch and the police band played in the background accompanied by traditional dances and music from local artists; people in and around Juba, who did not attend the celebration were able then to listen to the new Radio; Miraya FM. was not only warmly welcomed by the population but it was also welcomed by the government of Southern Sudan. Dr. Samson Kwaje, the then minister for information in the government of Southern Sudan tells more.
Clip: SAMSON KWAJE
"Today is a very great day for us, because we know that if a UN mission is deployed in any country; one of the things they will have is a Radio that they will have to run with cooperation from the host country. In respect of international agreements the government of Southern Sudan quickly worked on the program that is going to take place today the status of a force agreement so far clearly state of the UN to have a radio."
Radio Miraya's main goal has always been to inform in a free and independent manner whilst supporting the UN in implementing the CPA and its mandate. At Miraya's debut, Jan Pronk was the former special representative of the United Nations secretary general to Sudan; this is what he said about Miraya during his inaugural speech.
Clip: JAN PRONK
"I have looked forward for a long time to first day that indeed you can get into the waves; radio is major instrument to help the people and the government of Southern Sudan to implement the CPA. So many people on that 9th January 2005 and later did look forward, to what John Garang called a new Southern Sudan, a new Sudan, a society two systems two system within overall country. That is what you in the South are working on; that in order to implement the CPA fully, you need democracy such a society requires many instruments, it also requires other free media radio in particular; Radio miraya it is a Sudanese Radio it is a free Radio a democratic Radio that is the reason why the staffs are Sudanese and that is why we are so please under the leadership of Leon Williams and also with the assistance of Radio Hirondelle so many Sudanese more than 70 young Sudanese people form the staffs of Radio Miraya."
Radios do play a crucial role for change in a way that it publicizes what would have been concealed for one reason or another. Radio Miraya's main task is to spread peace messages. But what was the government's expectation of Radio Miraya? President Salva Kir spoke about his hopes for Miraya.
Clip: SALVA KIIR 1
"On this occasion of opening the UNMIS radio in Juba, which is known as Miraya FM; it's important for the UN to explain to the Sudanese public information related to its mandate. It will also play a crucial role for democracy, human right, and the fight against corruption and other vice in our country. The establishment of the UN radio in Juba is a major step forward in the fulfillment of the above objective; the opening of Miraya is again a greater significant because the media is expected to play a decisive role in dissemination of the comprehensive peace agreement. One of the pillars of the policy statement is the promotion of freedom of the media. The bills that are very important for a free and responsible are as follows: media policy framework for Southern Sudan, two freedom of information bills, three broadcasting bills, four public service broadcasting bills and five bills to promote media self regulation".
Since then Radio Miraya has been hard at work doing its best to fulfill its role and different responsibilities.
Clip: SALVA KIIR 2
"The UNMIS Radio is not only a tool in the education and enlightenment, but it shall be another medium in the repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation process of our people the IDPs and refugees to the South; it will assist in reconciliation and defuse the looming threat to the peace process. Last but no least I would sincerely like to thank our friend Mr. JAN PRONK who with his staffs in Khartoum and Juba has tireless worked with our government to realize, the planning installment and the operation of the Mirror Radio in Juba; we have come to Juba today to witness the inauguration of this Radio. May God bless you all and wish you all the best".
Quality is of paramount importance. Radio Miraya's four years journey has been through many changes that might have affected its quality in one way or the other but it has managed for the most part to stay on track. Amos Longa Modi is the Director of Quality promotion in the ministry of Education Science and Technology in Central Equatoria State.
Clip: AMOS LONGA MODI
"Miraya is one the mass media which I like very much in a way that all the information comes from Miraya is educative. All the political information which we received is actually correct. It is through the Miraya FM that the people are sensitize of the important ways of how to be productive. I would advise all our listeners to attend to Miraya so that we come up with what is designed for development goal as stipulated in the CPA. This is how we are enlighten and we are to get her with the world; we feel that Miraya FM, the staffs in general could also go round in various unit; we need to promote quality development in terms of training, supervision and in terms of bringing up the best result ever."
Listeners are able to express their views on a wide range of topics through phone in programs and sms's, the goal is to have our listeners at the heart of our broadcasting. Radio Miraya stretches across most of Southern Sudan on FM and is the only Sudanese Radio station which can be heard through the internet in any part of the world, it is also available on Nile Sat as well as in Shortwave in the North. Our radio launched its new programming grid in February this year. After much thought and consideration and to give the whole of Sudan more of a voice , we split our grid between national and regional feeds. Three times a day we broadcast across the country on a common stream on national issues, the rest of the time we broadcast on a separate northern and southern stream to address issues and concerns specifically pertaining to those two regions.
So what do listeners today, 4 years on, actually say about Miraya?
Clip: VOX POPS
"My name is Simon Lubang Diorisu; I love Miraya (He uses a local language) so where there is Miraya, in fact I can be alive everything I get fro Miraya FM., so Buda bless Miraya FM. Miraya is the first Radio station in Southern Sudan."
"Maya Vitali; I sometimes listen to Miraya because it is up dating me on the local news that is why I have to tune to Miraya and sometimes tune in for music but at night appoint me always if I tune to Miraya I want to listen music Miraya doesn't tell me what is the time that is why I swift to BBC and they tell me the time."
"Mary Achiro Steven, Miraya is one of my favorite Radio they really discuss current issues, Miraya has done a lot of work, Miraya has done a very very impressive work especially during elections , people were all listening to Miraya because that was the only source you could really get the real taste of the elections from all the states. The Miraya reporters were live every where in all the states. Miraya should still do a lot of work in creating awareness especially about the upcoming referendum."
(Voiced over) "What I like about is Miraya is, Miraya is very good; it knows how to advice people, the people who are working in Miraya are educated they know how to tell you what is right and bad; that is why I like Miraya so much. All the time I am in Miraya. It's the only Radio I listen to. It's a very good Radio.
"Simon Elias Parakiti; I am a listener to Miraya FM; I love Miraya because it gives us up to date news. It expanded to all the ten states that is why I love to listen to Miraya and it gives really the fresh news it gives us also many songs"
Miraya's goal will be to continue providing news, information and a variety of voices to all in its never ending goal to promote peace and conflict resolution through communication. In the upcoming months we will increasingly focus on the Referendum and the many questions and concerns raised by Sudanese across the country and the world on this landmark event. An event which is likely to change the face of Sudan as we know it, regardless of whether people vote for unity or secession. Miraya will ceaselessly continue to hand the microphone over to communities across the country as it works on providing them with the information they need to help them make an informed choice.