Twelve years ago, I walked for the first time into the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Accra with nine school mates. I was eleven years old. We were going to do programs on national radio. We were so excited!
Kingsley Obeng-Kyereh, then a producer with Curious Minds radio programmes, explained that we were joining other young people to demand our rights, and let children know they have rights and responsibilities.
It sounded great.
That had been a bad year for me. I was grieving the death of my beloved brother and my family was going through tough times. Often my parents could not pay my school fees and I would stay at home for weeks. When I went back to school, I lied I had been sick.
That day at GBC something clicked. Something good. I had found a new family! And ever since I walked into GBC, I have sacrificed sleep and leisure to create change in my community using radio.
For 18 years, the Children and Youth in Broadcasting–Curious Minds programme has propelled youth issues in Ghana through the voices of young people.
One of my friends is presenter Binta Alhassan, 23. At age 10, Binta narrowly escaped being abducted to another country and married to a much older man. Relatives tried to kidnap her at school but the teachers stopped them.
Binta is a strong advocate for girls’ rights among her Muslim community. On air, she exposes the dangers of early marriage and pushes law enforcement agencies to protect the girls.
“I have felt it and I know it. Change cannot happen if we just keep quiet and watch”, Binta told me.
Like Binta, I feel happy knowing that the little I do is making great impact.
We do many programmes on HIV and AIDS. HIV prevalence in Ghana is not that high at 1.4 percent, but not to be ignored. Sometimes we discuss policies, sometimes people, or gender-specific problems.
For example, young women tell how their role as caregivers for family members sick with AIDS harmed their education and health. Our listeners call in with their real life stories; together we try to find solutions.
My journey with Curious Minds has not been easy.
I remember weird times when a radio technician would walk into the studio while we are live on air and chide us:
“Why are you children talking about family planning? How does it affect you? Discuss things for people your age!”.
We had to do very long and friendly explanations to stop being taken off air by angry technicians.
It was difficult to get permission to leave school to do radio. Although I tried hard to get good grades, my teachers perceived me as not serious.
In my final year in Junior High School, I got a caning on my buttocks from my French teacher because he had seen me doing advocacy on TV during exam week. The teachers expected us to be glued to the books during this period, doing no extracurricular activities. I had flouted their unspoken rules.
I can laugh at those experiences now. They were totally worthwhile!
Edith Asamani is a self-taught photographer, graphic designer, radio presenter and human rights activist, passionate about issues of women and youth, who wants to make the world a better place for young people. Her motto: “I live not for myself, but for others.”
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