September 18, 2015

Oromo: Diaspora Calls for BBC Afaan Oromo Radio Programme

In response to the BBC’s decision to launch new services in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Oromo people from across the world have begun a petition, demanding the opening of an Afaan Oromo Radio Programme.

Below is the Preamble and Petition itself:

Preamble

We, the Oromo Diaspora in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, the Oromo people in Ethiopia and the Horn of African Countries, and the friends of the Oromo People and Afaan Oromo speaking peoples across the world welcome the recent announcement by the BBC to launch news services to Ethiopia and Eritrea. In this connection, we would like to draw the attention of the BBC Board of Trustees, the BBC Board of Directors, and the government of the United Kingdom on the vital significance of starting medium-and short –wave Afaan Oromo Radio Program that will broadcast to Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti.

Afaan Oromo, the single most widely spoken language in Ethiopia, is also spoken in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea which will give the BBC wider audience than any other language, making it the largest broadcasting and media market in Africa. Furthermore, the Horn of Africa, as one of the most volatile and democratically deficient regions of Africa, needs an impartial and independent mass media outlets that will provide credible and trustworthy news and information services that promote democracy, economic development, and mutual-coexistence of various cultures, religions, and values.

The Afaan Oromo speaking population, which constitutes close to half of the estimated 98.9 million inhabitants of Ethiopia (over 30 million of whom are mother tongue speakers), remains among the most affected with the prevailing democratic deficiency in the region. As a result, there is no single independent and impartial Afaan Oromo newspaper, news website, and radio or television station. This democratic deficiency is depriving Afaan Oromo speakers, particularly the youth which constitutes about 74% of the total population, access to any credible, impartial, and independent news outlets. The danger this poses on the national and regional peace and stability, poverty eradication and economic development is self-evident; and needs urgent attention from policy makers and all interested parties including the BBC and the government of the United Kingdom.

Consequently, we call upon the BBC governing bodies and the government of the United Kingdom to make an urgent policy decision to reach out to this highly disenfranchised and marginalized Afaan Oromo speaking population of Ethiopia and the Greater Horn through the radio programs. It is hoped that this will also help to advance the United Kingdom’s global economic development and poverty eradication policies as well as to promote free expression, peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.

Needless to say, to launch programs broadcast to the region in other languages and not launch one in Afaan Oromo would mean contributing to the privileging of the less widely spoken languages in the region and to sanction the existing inter-linguistic asymmetry created by the States’ national media. Not to fall into this trap, it would be ideal decision if the BBC decides to broadcast in three languages widely spoken in Ethiopia - Afaan Oromo, Amharic and Tigrigna following the VOA’s model.

Petition:

Therefore, we the undersigned, the Oromo Diaspora in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, the Oromo people in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, and friends of the Oromo People and Afaan Oromo speaking peoples across the world, call up on the BBC Shareholders, the BBC Trustees, the BBC Board of Directors, and the government of the United Kingdom to mandate the BBC to launch Afaan Oromo Radio Program as a matter of urgency and as top priority to meet the urgent need of providing trustworthy and credible information and news services that attends to the day-to-day living conditions of tens of millions of Afaan Oromo speakers.

 

To sign the petition for this link

 

Photo Courtesy of Stu Horvath