The long road to launching Radio Taboo, a solar-powered station in the Cameroon rainforest

May 14, 2018
Une traduction pour cet article est disponible en Français

Ngambé-Tikar district lacks many things: schools, libraries, running water, electricity, and hospitals. But one thing this district in Cameroon no longer lacks is a radio station.

After more than seven years of work, Issa Nyaphaga finally saw his vision traditions and cultures. One of its flagship programs is Bonsoir le village (“Good evening village”), a show that shares the stories and activities of people in the area. The program airs discussions, personal stories, and music.

Powered entirely by solar panels installed on the roof, Radio Taboo was created to air community issues and help build bridges between local cultures. Its programs cover topics often considered taboo, such as the rights of gay people, people living with HIV and AIDS, and indigenous peoples such as those who are sometimes called pygmies.

With the support of a local NGO called Hope International for Tikar People, Mr. Nyaphaga was able to secure funding for the radio station. The NGO works with indigenous Tikar and Bedzan (pygmy) villages in Cameroon to implement health, education, and art projects.

The radio project serves as “The Voice of the Voiceless,” a motto that is painted on a sign inside the studio.

People in the Tikar Plain region speak 20 different languages. Radio Taboo broadcasts in 10, to meet the needs of as many listeners as possible. These include French, English, Tikar, Balon, Bamoun, Djanti, Hausa, Bavek, Fulani, and Babouté (also known as N’vouté).

Many listeners live in isolated indigenous villages, where there are few outside sources of information. After about a week on air, Mr. Nyaphaga realized most of the station’s target audience had never listened to a radio.

The Tikar people have a popular saying: “People are our best investment.” One of the goals of Radio Taboo is to empower women in the community. Half the station’s broadcasters are women. Another objective is to educate the community about public health and environmental issues.

Radio Taboo’s second flagship program is Le Micro Ouvert du Magicien de la Terre (“Open Mic with the Earth Magician”). It addresses rural issues, including farming, micro-credit business, and health.

The road was long from Mr. Nyaphaga’s vision, to finding funding, to building the radio station, broadcast tower, and solar energy system. But on July 23, 2017 at 5:43 p.m. local time, Radio Taboo went on air with these words from the station’s founder: “Hello! I am Issa Nyaphaga from N’ditam. We’re broadcasting from 96.0 FM …. Can anyone hear me?”

Radio Taboo still has a long road ahead of it. The station broadcasts for only six hours a day due to the limits of the solar panels. Mr. Nyaphaga would like to increase the station’s broadcast range beyond its current limit of 40 kilometres. And the staff need more training and resources.

But Mr. Nyaphaga is proud of the progress they have made. He says the station is open to the community, and recently added a computer learning space. He says, “This project has pushed boundaries and now villagers are considering the pygmies as people with equal rights like themselves—which is a huge step.”

Learn more about Radio Taboo in on their Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMt8tiDQePM&t=3s