Close to a month since Lethem’s first radio station was commissioned, Maba-ruma has now followed suit with Radio Mabaruma which was commissioned on Saturday by Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo.
Like that of Lethem, Radio Mabaruma is the first radio station to have been launched in the new Municipality and aims to bridge the communication gap between the hinterland and coastland.
In delivering the feature address, the PM described the launching in the North West District as a momentous achievement; one that he said will benefit not only residents of Mabaruma, but the entire Region One as they will now be in tune with what is happening in the rest of Guyana.
“People in the hinterland areas must be brought on stream with what is happening in the rest of Guyana”, he said, while positing that this would facilitate two-way communication between Guyana’s coastal and interior regions.
The PM went on to note that apart from facilitating a more inclusive vision for the people of the interior, the new radio station would also play a part in promoting local produce and commodities, while fostering development at both a personal and community level.
“Communication in the realest sense is knowledge and knowledge in the real world is power,” he said, while adding that radio communication is a means of strengthening the mind.
“Because you are on par intellectually with other parts of Guyana, it is your intellect and your access to information and knowledge that would connect you as equal citizens of this Republic of Guyana…you don’t need to anymore be considered as people of the forest or children of the bush,” he stated.
Additionally, Nagamootoo pointed out that the new station in the Barima/Waini region bordering Venezuela also has a role to play in the national strategy against the claims to Guyana’s sovereignty.
He said, “…this story has another dimension, as you know you are living in a part of Guyana that is resourceful and rich upon which evil eyes have been cast from the west. We have to protect ourselves; we may not have the battalions and we may not have the cannons, rockets or big guns, but we have people who are armed with the ability to communicate with themselves and with the rest of Guyana.”
“All you need to say every day on your radio station is Essequibo is we own, that is all you need to say, Essequibo is we own. The conquistadores are saying that the land which they claim doesn’t have people, that it is bush that it belongs to them; well bush can talk and this bush here will start saying is we own every time you hear a claim being made from the other side,” the Prime Minister declared.
He noted that the new radio station presents an opportunity to residents to have their stories be heard by the rest of Guyana, saying “There has always been a story that the Indigenous people have that was never fully told and so now you have an opportunity today from today to begin that storytelling.”
Reflecting on the journey to establish the radio station, the Prime Minister said that it is an especially great feeling to see the fruits of the years of work being reaped as the plans to build on the tree of broadcasting in Guyana continue in the hope of allowing Guyanese to be well informed.
He was also very quick to state that he will not allow either of the radio stations to be used as political tools, saying that while it is important to give everyone a fair chance to express their views on public issues or public policy, he will see that the stations not be used for propaganda.
For now, the program-mes on Radio Mabaruma will be sourced from the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) in Georgetown. However, it is his hope that that once they are able to train a corps of broadcasters, they will be able to produce their own programmes.
“It is not simply a radio station for which you can hear songs but one that you will eventually be able to use to tell your own story,” he said.
In the meantime, he stated that discussions have been ongoing to have the service of a satellite and the use of The Learning Channel to facilitate productions from NCN and GINA for the benefit of Mabaruma and 15 other locations throughout Guyana including Lethem, Orealla and Bina Hill
Like the PM, Coordinator of the project and veteran radio broadcaster Dr. Rovin Deodat also encouraged residents to use the radio as a means of developing themselves as well as their community.
He, too, alluded to the achievements of Michaela Abraham-Ali, Merrano Isaacs and Isiah Chappelle, all of whom are prominent radio broadcasters, hailing from varying indigenous villages across Guyana.
Using them as examples of what they too can achieve, Dr. Deodat said, “It’s just finding the talent, the energy, the purpose is there already, it’s just to put the switch on and that has been done today. It is time you start telling them in your own words what they are missing, the 80% or so of Guyanese.”
He, too, expressed the hope that next year will see Radio Mabaruma being able to produce at least 50% of its own programmes.
Meanwhile, congratulatory messages were also extended to the people of Mabaruma by Deputy Production Manager of NCN Wendy Hermonstyne who described the new community radio station as a landmark achievement, one that was made possible by the vision and instrumentality of the Prime Minister.
She also expressed the hope that within the next three months, the radio station would be airing locally developed programmes of good quality through Radio Mabaruma.
“We look forward to programmes being developed and aired; we look forward to hearing the voices of trainees in the studio here at Mabaruma,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the residents of Mabaruma, Rupert Henry Smith, whom the Prime Minister addressed as Mayor, described the launching of the radio station as a step in the right direction.
“We live in a world of technology, but while I do agree that technology has taken a long time to get to Region One, today it has finally arrived. In my wildest dreams I never thought it would be established so soon. It is a definite opening to showcase Mabaruma in terms of our culture, produce among other things while we in turn will have the opportunity to be up to date with the news,” he added.
Smith was sworn in as Mayor of Mabaruma by President David Granger on April 6th following historic local government elections but has been unable to function in that capacity as Justice Diana Insanally has granted an interim order quashing the controversial appointment which had been made by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan.
This is one of several interim orders that the PPP/C applied to the High Court for, after expressing disapproval with decisions made by government with respect to the Mabaruma Township and five Neigh-bourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) where there was a tie in the number of seats awarded to the government and the PPP/C following the Local Government Elections.