[interact_list] [experiment:IHT]: IHT hilight: West Africa, Ukraine and 2nd of May 2001

  • From: Akio Fujita <A.Fujita@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: interact_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 19:11:29 +0100

I wish all of you had a fine day today. In Bradford since yesterday, 
we've been having extremely sunny and warm day. Some exclaimed 'It's 
summer! already.'

Then from now on this mailing list is going to contain 'IHT hilight'
as a kind of daily re-distribution of IHT articles. The form or style
is yet to be decided. (Of course Akio can be downright out from 

The reason I do this is just it is undoubtful that we are standing 
in the starting point of 'the midst' of changes of this world, 
regardless of issue areas, regardless of regions. It is a great time
to be a witness and observer. 

For example, there is an article in 'Editorial/Opinion' Section, 
titled 'Let's Have Revolutions That Let The People Talk'

It's about how 'tech(radio)' worked and might work in West African
conflicting zones. There is a report about Ukraine's political 
situation - and there is an article about death toll and its reasons 
in Congo's recently ceased warfare. 

And of course, Bush proposed unilateral reduction of nuclear warheads 
and his move on ABM treaty is now sparking another controversy.

We had Nelson Mandela visiting in Leeds only two days before,
and yesterday was a May Day.

-I won't actually post an article from IHT, unless it is extremely good 
one to be shared and read. It's upto you. You just can visit,


and the rest is something you can try by yourself. 

It's not about getting info in - as much as one can,
it's more about - how fxxking small the fxxk our brains and scopes are
and how to let all these 'devices' do their work - for responsibility. 
In terms of operational outcomes - we can't do much - then still 
we got heart, now the time - to make it grow and make it open and big, 
really broad - really broad. 

(I think this is a failure mail, shit!- but you know what I mean?]


Let's Have Revolutions That Let the People Talk  
Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times 
Wednesday, May 2, 2001  
ACCRA, Ghana The information revolution has come to Africa, and last 
December it helped bring about the first peaceful transition from one 
elected civilian government to another in Ghana. This was a hugely 
important political event for West Africa.

Ghana's turnabout would not have happened without the information 
revolution here. I am not talking about the Internet. I am talking 
about FM radio.

In 1995, Ghana's previous government, led by Jerry Rawlings, gave up 
its monopoly on the airwaves and permitted the establishment of private
FM stations. Since then more than 40 have cropped up around Ghana, 
broadcasting in English and native Ghanaian languages. They play local 
music, read their own news and offer hours and hours of live talk 
radio, where Ghanaians can tell the government and each other whatever 
is on their minds.

Being able to call the radio or be interviewed in the market by a 
reporter with a tape recorder has given ordinary people a chance to 
participate in politics as never before. This national conversation was
critical in enabling John Kufuor, a free market democrat, to defeat Mr.
Rawlings' tired, floundering party, which had run Ghana into the ground
during 20 years in office.

"Everyone knew that [Mr. Rawlings'] wife, if she didn't like a program 
on our [state-owned] station, could just order it off the air," said 
Yawowusu Addo, director of the state-run radio GBC. "No one could do 
that with the private stations. When people saw something, they just 
called in with the news. These FM radios helped us liberate ourselves. 
The public found their voice. The politicians could all hear ordinary 
people talking about the problems - corruption, unemployment. People 
were fed up and they told each other, and they told Rawlings." Eight of
Ghana's 10 provinces have flourishing private FM stations. Mr. Kufuor 
won in those provinces and Mr. Rawlings' party won in the two that had 
no private stations. Not an accident. The FM stations were critical in 
making sure that the election was not stolen by the Rawlings team. 
People going to the polls would call their local station if they saw 
any shenanigans, and the report would be broadcast in seconds. The 
radios were monitored by the election board, and it would quickly 

"On the day of the elections there was a polling station in Accra where
soldiers started destroying voting boxes," recalled Joseph Ebo 
Quarshie, president of the Ghana Bar Association. "Immediately, someone
called an FM station and it was reported on the air. I was at my bank 
at the time. A guy walks up to me, a pharmacist I know, and says: 'Have
you heard what's going on at this polling station in Accra? What is the
Bar Association doing about it?' So I got in my car and turned on SKY 

"Minutes later I got a call from JOY FM. I told them to call me back in
a few minutes. Meanwhile, I got a copy of the constitution. JOY FM 
called me back and I read over the radio the article in the 
constitution which says that citizens had the right to resist 
interference in a polling station. JOY FM kept playing my interview 
over and over. A couple hours later the soldiers were chased off by 

Now that the elections are over, the radio stations, which are all run 
by young Ghanaians who were either educated or have worked in the West,
are playing an important role in forcing transparency on the new 
government. "The minute people were able to talk freely - and 
anonymously - on the radio, and ask what officials were up to, was the 
beginning of accountability for government in Ghana," said Nana 
Akufo-Addo, the new minister of justice.

Fact: The four most democratic countries in West Africa today - Benin, 
Ghana, Mali and Senegal - all have private, flourishing talk radio 

All of Africa will get the Internet one day, but for now the real 
information revolution will be based on cheap FM transmitters and even 
cheaper radios.

So stop sending Africa lectures on democracy. Instead make all aid, all
IMF-World Bank loans, all debt relief conditional on African 
governments permitting free FM radio stations. Africans will do the 
Akio Fujita

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