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Keynote address by Hon. Claude M Kamanda at the opening of a two-day training of radio broadcast technicians for Western urban and rural areas at Jabex Hall, Waterloo on August 11th, 2011.
Chair, permit me on behalf of Constituency 95 and the Ward to congratulate Mrs. Bernadette Cole – the outgoing chairperson of the IMC. One thing I hold on strongly in life is that, no matter the deeds of your critics or detractors, your works are never over shadowed. Mrs. Cole has weathered the storm; she has gone through the waters but not drowned; went through the fire but yet not burnt. Now, she is leaving the IMC as a democratic institution of excellence with her head up high. Mrs. Cole’s successes have been among others:
Chair, the IMC is one of the pillars of democracy established by an Act of Parliament to enhance Press Freedom and Good Governance in Sierra Leone. It is one of the regulatory institutions of the “fourth estate” (i.e. Print and Electronic Media). But let me be quick to say, this nomenclature (fourth estate) should not in any way import the idea of opposition to established authority, as many people may be tempted to believe. The role of the media we all know is to inform, educate and entertain the public on issues that are of interest to the nation. More specifically, the media in a third world environment should be seen as partners in development and not as adversaries to government and the people.
Chair, Sierra Leone like most other countries in Africa is undergoing spectacular national economic building; an economic nation-building in which the media ought to play a positive role. Indeed, the media ought to dispassionately communicate the doubts, fears the hopes and aspirations of the people to government, and vice versa. At the same time, the media in the developing world should be development oriented if government is to succeed in the task of making itself understood by the people.
Chair, if our government is to succeed in meeting the MDGs and if the local councils are to succeed, the media has a leading role to play. Again, if the media reporters, producers, presenters, editors, etc, etc, are to effectively and efficiently perform their roles for the nation’s success, the Radio Broadcast Technicians must be equipped with the required techniques. Hence, the training for Radio Broadcast Technicians is not a misplacement of resources, but a dire need in the media profession. Also, the training is in fulfilment of the ‘vision’ of the IMC and Part III section 8(1) (a) and (e) of the IMC 2007 Amended Act. Part III section 8 (1) states that, the IMC is established:
(a) to promote professionalism in the media throughout Sierra Leone.
(e) to promote . the development of adequate human resources for the advancement of the media industry throughout Sierra Leone.
Promoting professionalism and the development of adequate human resources for the advancement of the media industry means, building the capacity of all connected with the work of the media in Sierra Leone. I therefore duff my heart to Mrs. Cole and the Commissioners.
Chair, the media has a sole weapon that is so desperately needed in the world of democracy, though that weapon can either ‘make or break’. I must hasten to say, the IMC has stood the test of time to maintain positivity in regulating the media. Positivity in the sense that, to a very large extent, the IMC has upheld and maintained constructive criticism.
Chair, criticism is an undisputable fact, but it should be seen as genuine attempt to call attention to issues that are going wrong in the society and is in the public interest.
With regard to the negative aspect in the media profession, we all must endeavour to change our attitude. We should adhere to this clarion call of the President and embrace this concept to better serve Mama Salone with honesty of purpose, fairness and truthfulness. Remember the wise words of SLAJ President – Umaru Fofanah, saying “the only profession God will need to serve Him in Heaven is the media – to transmit accurate information”.
Chair, let me clarify here, that the IMC has operated in a free environment, and I want to reassure all that our government will continue to give a ‘free hand’ to the IMC to run its affairs, as long as it operates within the law and in accordance with its mandate.
In conclusion, I call on you participants to give this two-days training serious thought and the utmost seriousness it deserves. Such training you’ve been yearning for is now at your door-step. If possible, put off any and everything that may have to force you out of this hall.
On behalf of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, whose ‘Agenda for Change’ is here translated into reality; and on my own behalf, I declare this two-days training of Radio Broadcast Technicians in the Western Urban and Rural Areas of the country, OPEN.
I thank you all.
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