The annals of Sierra Leone’s history are replete with tales of struggle and resilience, each contributing to the nation’s journey towards democracy. Among these stories, one name stands tall and unshakable – Radio Democracy FM 98.1. Established in 1997, this radio station played an indomitable role in the restoration of democracy during trying times. Its unwavering commitment and unwavering dedication to promoting democratic values and countering tyranny deserve a significant place in Sierra Leone’s narrative.
In the aftermath of the AFRC’s overthrow of the democratically elected government led by Ahmed Tejan-Kabba, Sierra Leone faced a perilous juncture. It was during this trying period that Radio Democracy emerged as a beacon of hope. With support allegedly provided by the British, including essential broadcasting equipment and supplies, the radio station broadcasted from behind ECOMOG lines at Lungi. Others instrumental in setting up the station included Zainab Bangura. The station was not only a medium for promoting the Kabbah government but also served as a potent counterforce against the AFRC’s Junta’s propaganda machinery. The establishment of Radio Democracy was pivotal in galvanizing local and international support for the reinstatement of the democratically elected government.
The champions of democracy behind the scenes of Radio Democracy’s success, such as Joe Williams (Julius Spencer), Abdul Karim Sesay (Allie Bangura), and Yeabu Dumbuya (Hannah Foullah), are unsung heroes whose contributions cannot be overstated. Their dedication, along with that of countless stringers and reporters, turned them into household names across the country. These patriots, often operating in the shadows, selflessly worked to amplify the voice of democracy and promote the values of civil society.
While the legacy of Radio Democracy remains a source of inspiration, recent events have raised alarms within the democratic landscape. The resignation of four senior staff members has cast a shadow over the station’s future. Despite reassurances from the Board Chair that there is no crisis, concern lingers. As a Company Limited by Guarantee, with a board representing civil society groups, labour unions, good governance NGOs, and non-profit organizations, Radio Democracy holds a vital responsibility to the Sierra Leonean society it serves. With immense support from OSIWA, its role in fostering active citizenry, democratic governance, human rights, peace, and development cannot be understated.
In light of recent developments, it is crucial for the Board of Radio Democracy FM98.1, which needs to be reformed, to remain true to its founding principles and the legacy it upholds. The citizens of #SierraLeone, who have looked to the station as a source of inspiration and a platform for their voices, deserve nothing less. The station’s continued dedication to openness, criticism, and the promotion of democratic ideals is essential for the nation’s progress.
Radio Democracy FM98.1 stands as a testament to the power of media in shaping a nation’s destiny. Its role in the restoration of democracy and its ongoing commitment to democratic values have left an indelible mark on Sierra Leone’s history. As the station navigates through challenges, It must address recent criticisms and perceptions of bias and remain true to its founding ideals, heed the call to remain unwavering in its mission and continue being a beacon of hope, a platform for civic engagement, and a vital force for democracy in Sierra Leone. #SaloneTwitter