Exchange with Karim Djinko, Radio Chief at Mikado FM in Mali
UNESCO is pleased to make the audio and text of this interview available copy-right free for the celebration of World Radio Day 2019. Radio stations are especially encouraged to broadcast the interview, either in its totality or by exacting the answers and announcing the questions themselves.
UNESCO had the pleasure to speak with Karim Djinko, leader for the past three years of Mikado FM, the United Nations radio in Mali, which he helped build to support Malian peace and reconciliation efforts. The Canadian journalist born in Côte d'Ivoire has 20 years of experience in journalism, management and media development. Before joining the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he worked as a journalist for Radio-Canada, a Canadian public service channel. He has also contributed to various print publications in North America, Europe and Africa, as well as writing editorials. Karim Djinko, 45, has developed expertise in issues related to media development in post-conflict contexts and societies in democratic transition. He is the winner of the Quebec Lizette-Gervais Award for his radio report "Gays et lesbiennes Noirs au Canada".
Q. Thank you very much for being with us today to talk about World Radio Day 2019. You are the Chief of RADIO MIKADO, the radio station for the United Nations multidimensional integrated stabilization mission in Mali. Can you tell us a bit more about the station's programming?
MIKADO FM aims to support the efforts of Malians to establish a lasting national reconciliation. It is a radio launched since 2015 at the request of the UN Security Council by the Malian authorities and the civil society, according to the studies made in the field. It is a public service broadcaster that broadcasts 24 hours a day. We have a national reach and broadcast on a good part of the Malian territory, especially in Bamako, Gao, Timbuktu, Saïd, Menaka to name only these localities. Our programs are designed to provide people with reliable and credible information that has an impact on their daily lives, at all levels in politics, economics and health. In the post-crisis period, obviously, information is essential.
United Nations radio in Mali provides information on the content of the peace agreement, its various developments and issues. We also explain the work, the mandate and the mission of the UN in Mali, the specialized agents to the United Nations and all the agents who work to the stabilization of the country the international or local NGOs. To better respond to the concerns of the people, it is obvious that we must know their concerns and radio can give voice to Malians in the four corners of the country through our network of correspondents in the main cities of Mali. MIKADO FM also plays its part of vector of social cohesion of education especially to the culture of peace. We are open to all sensibilities, to all Malian voices. Programming includes newsletters, magazines, interactive debates and of course music.
Q. In post-conflict situations, how do you think radio can promote tolerance among its listeners?
First and foremost, giving voice to publishers to enable them to express their concerns. We know each other and understand each other better when we know the concerns of others. It should be known that Mali is a large, vast country of one million square meters and the displacements are so complicated that the populations of the south sometimes know little about the north of the country, the reverse is also true. Give voice but also create conditions for dialogue on national concerns, which is why we organize interactive debates every day at MIKADO FM. Whether you are in Tessalit, Gao or Menaka, you can take part in the telephone and all this of course reinforces the inclusivity and the community. We also broadcast messages of peace from community leaders to ease tensions when they arise, for example gathered around the same table to find solutions to community violence in the centre of the country. This has a direct impact that is priceless, the radio can do it. It is the most accessible medium and most responsive to the traditions of orality of Mali. You must know that the illiteracy rate is very high in Mali, it makes it even more necessary to communicate through the radio. Everyone cannot read a newspaper; besides it is difficult to read a newspaper outside Bamako, nevertheless everyone can listen to the radio and that is essential.
Q. In order to successfully disseminate information to those who need it, it is essential that radio stations communicate in the main languages of their listeners, are there any stories that demonstrate the importance of broadcasting in indigenous languages to MIKADO FM?
Yes of course, besides the French, we broadcast in the five main national languages including Bambara, Songhai, Tamashek and Arabic. All our productions in national languages are the most popular. The phone involves the listeners. We have also improved our programming in national languages, it was to respond to the wishes expressed by the listeners themselves in a recent survey of the population. We also share our productions with local radios who request them. The most visited programs are those in national languages. I come back from a series of reports in Timbuktu, where different actors told me that they liked MIKADO to systematically include the national languages when making live broadcasts of major events such as the national agreement conference or the past presidential elections. We ensure the public's right to information, including those who do not speak French and have the right to have information in their language.
Q. Since the creation of RADIO MIKADO, I imagine that the station's programs have covered stories with various topics. Is there one that has focused particularly on gender issues?
Not just one. In fact, the question of gender is fundamental for MIKADO FM. We decree the question of gender in our way of working first and foremost, we make sure that in our reports, our debates, the choice of guests reflects the diversity, as far as possible in any case. A reporter, for example, when he goes to a village, he is instructed not to just be content with interviews with notability, organizations often dominated exclusively by men. He will also look for other sounds of bell and especially women, young people. We also have specialized programs on gender issues, Mondays are reserved exclusively for questions of gender and concerns. We are talking about women's rights, their place in society, the issues of violence against women, to name just these themes. There is also the issue of representativeness in the writing. Now, two women are running morning news programs, which is probably a first in Mali, and there are few on the world scale. Our flagship information magazine at the end of the day is also animated by a woman who is also coordinator of writing so at different levels we try to consider the gender dimension and the place of women for us is important.
Q. The theme of World Radio Day 2019 is "Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace". What would be your message for this day?
This is a theme that is more relevant since we are witnessing everywhere in the world feelings of withdrawal, of clashing, the question of migration, of borders, brings back old demons even though migration only concerns 3% of the world's population. We must therefore talk with and tolerate each other in order to achieve lasting peace, and in this respect, radio is still a strong form of communication, even in the era of social networks and the fragmentation and consumption of information. I take this opportunity to wish radio listeners and all people who work in radio that sometimes work under difficult conditions, sometimes endangering their lives a happy World Radio Day!
Thank you, Karim, for your testimony!