“Many voices make a city and we want ours to be heard.
When we came out onto the streets, they shot at us.
But no one can stop us singing. And the struggle is in our song.”
In most countries of the world, slum dwellers have often been victimized by supposed urbanization efforts of Government. While the Government may have valid reasons for wanting to wipe out slums, the inhuman treatment meted out to thousands of slum dwellers through forced evictions has continued to be a source of concern to observers. Residents of various shanties in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, have had to face the same fate severally. As a way of bringing succor and hope to the helpless citizens whose homes have been destroyed and those currently under threat of demolition by their Government, Chicoco Radio was initiated to serve as a voice to the voiceless.
Chicoco Radio is a floating radio station being built by residents of Port Harcourt’s waterfront slums. By estimate, 480, 000 people live in waterfront settlements along the creeks fringing the City of Port Harcourt. The Government plans to demolish them all. In times past the people have attempted to protest but ended up being overwhelmed by soldiers, police, and other government agents.
“Chicoco Radio will allow them to reach out and speak up. From their floating platform residents will be able to demand their rights, campaign for change and celebrate their culture.”
Chicoco Radio is an initiative for social change that has been creating various campaigns to communicate what their ‘cause’ is about. “CHICOCO RADIO: We Must Be Heard” and “People Live Here: Where We Live, Why We Sing” are some song campaigns that has been used to further communicate the message. But beyond that, the song campaigns have also given artistic waterfront residents the opportunity to discover and harness their musical talents.
Contrary to Government’s inexact position that waterfronts are habitats for criminals, several law abiding citizens dwell in these places ranging from professionals to traders, clerics, artisans, politicians, school children, security officers, talented youths, government officials, and so on. This is what inspired the “people live here” campaign.
“After tens of thousands of people had their homes and livelihoods destroyed without warning or compensation, we came out into the streets to say: ‘People Live Here’. We put up a campaign billboard. The government tore it down. But many voices make a city, and this is our rhythm, our right, our voice”
How Chicoco Radio operates….
Chicoco Radio is powered by volunteers. Currently, over 100 waterfront slum residents are being trained as citizen journalists, writers, sound engineers, programme presenters, studio operators, music producers, drama directors, news casters, station managers and community correspondents.
“They are all getting world-class training but we need your support to deliver it.”
Volunteers are personally designing and building two excellent radio studios and a music production studio with live recording facilities. Broadcast will be done from one of the poorest parts of the city, already at risk from flooding, so the station is being designed to float on the water.
“Out of the ghetto; over the water; across the city: I’m singing loud with Chicoco Radio.” ~ Sira Dumedam (Police Baracks near Cemetery Waterside)
Before the last rains, volunteers from the waterfronts put up a radio training studio, exhibition space and community gathering space. They call their ‘media space’ – made by local people, with local materials – a first step towards the community radio station.
Chicoco Radio is concerned about housing for slum dwellers and they are taking steps to help ease the pain of those affected. Our society could be a lot better if all of us will take steps towards addressing those issues that gives us concern.
You can stay in touch with Chicoco Radio via: