Hannah Sassaman — Banned from the National Association of Broadcasters Since 2002

Radio Uhuru — Briefly, and More Soon…
January 25, 2007, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello to all — we’ve met an amazing milestone.  After two and a half weeks of extensive work, the station broadcast all day at the World Social Forum.  I’ve never been involved in a barnraising where the initial launch of the station was accompanied by such a diversity of voices on the air — landless organizers from southern India, youth trainers from rural Somalia, elders from Zimbabwe.  The world is deep and large and for one day in Nairobi, beautiful young producers wove some of the best radio I’ve ever heard from that world. 

This station rose from what was, at this time yesterday, an open wound.  Three of the women that helped to build this project — two Ugandans and one American — were working in the studio on Monday, interviewing each other.  I am not going to use their names until I get permission to do so.  The two Ugandan women are fierce, beautiful women who work with youth in Kampala, Uganda, and the American woman can match them step for step with her focus and clarity and intelligence.  When three men showed up at the door of the studio with a gun — a real gun, one of the Ugandans promised later — they did the right thing by listening to their demands and lying down on the ground.  The thieves, who had scoped out the studio earlier with a guarded curiosity, took the computer of a French producer, our two brand new mikes, a number of minidisc recorders (rare as gold in our group) and some other small valuables that we keep realizing are missing.  The thieves put these three women in a shocked and guarded state, and put all of us into a place of reflection and decisionmaking.  Were the thieves actually cops in disguise?  Were we way too lax and flashy with our expensive computers, cameras, minidiscs and microphones?  Did we feel safe going back to that space?  As the thieves didn’t take any of the equipment necessary to actually broadcast (the mixer and transmitter were safe as houses) or any of Andy’s technical tools (they dumped out his canvas tool bag on the floor, filled it with their other valuables and left), we actually could go on air still, if we wanted. 

After long conversation we decided that the space was ours and that we had a responsibility to ourselves to get our audio on the air and to keep broadcasting. The women who had been involved in the assault, encouraged us the most.  And so on Wednesday morning, after a day of police reports, collecting more audio, one of the Ugandan women, quiet and powerful, was the first voice on 107.9, Radio Uhuru.

The day was magic — the exhiliration of a barnraising paired with a focused need to put as many world leaders on the air as possible.  We have archived the entire day of broadcasts and once many of us are back in the land of broadband we’ll have photos, stories, and audio to post.  Expect brilliant conversations with landless Indian community organizers, Somali women working on infrastructure, and Zimbabwean elders — and more!  I’d like to write more now, but the only reason I’m enjoying the rare luxury of internet access is because I need to download audio editing and graphics editing software for our Ugandan allies who are about to head home.

More soon and with love,
Hannah Sassaman


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Congratulations and love to you and best of luck to Radio Uhuru!

Comment by Esther

thank you so much for your work in struggle!

Comment by Olive Lucy

crime is an accompnayment of dissullusionment, and it would appear that part of the youth in Nairobi are increasingly seeing no hope for the feauture, but that is countered by the increasing number of vibrant youth that are taking charge of thier destiny and doing something positive.

The broadcasts from Kasarani the venue of the WSF was a great idea..keep it radical.


Comment by oti

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