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Uganda. Radio Pacis: “We go Forward”

The only FM radio station operating in the West Nile region and Northern Uganda. At the service of the people and the church.

It’s early morning, the sun rises behind the green hills of Arua. People moving and the first fires can be seen. From a group of huts a loud voice wishes “good morning”. It’s the voice of the speaker of Radio Pacis, the only FM station operating in West Nile, Northern Uganda.
Father Joseph Pasolini, a Comboni Missionary who has lived in the country for almost forty years, is the director of the Radio. He told us: “Radio Pacis is serving the region since 2004. It operates on the frequencies of 90.9fm and 94.5fm from Arua and 101.4fm from Gulu. The main broadcast languages are Lögbara, Kakwa, Alur, Madi Luo and English programs are included on all the frequencies. The station trusts in its powerful output and the strategic position of the main antenna to cover the entire West Nile region and parts of Northern Uganda, the DR. Congo and South Sudan”.

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Radio Pacis format is a mix of news-talk, religious and secular music. The station presents local, regional national and international news, documentaries and dramas from the villages. Sports are presented daily and community service programs, locally known as We Go Forward, are dealt with in all the local languages. In Rural Debates the issues are discussed by members of the local communities. “This very interactive program is particularly loved by listeners – continued the director – they enjoy the opportunity of ‘having their say’ through Radio Pacis, both during the time of recording – in front of their leaders – and later, on broadcast to a very large audience”. The station offers speciality programs Monday through Sunday, including musical interludes. Choirs of West Nile hosts local choirs. The Cultural Perspective offers debates in Lögbara and Kakwa, Sunday after Sunday. The popular Good Morning West Nile runs from 6.00am to 9.00am Monday through Friday. The Program is popularly known for The People’s Voice segment. It is one of the best examples of citizen journalism. The comical and humorous In Daa Mood Program is a chat-show. One inspirational religious program that has aired on Radio Pacis since the beginning is the Scripture Moment. It runs in English, Lögbara, Kakwa, Alur, Luo and Madi.

Active role

Journalists at the Radio said that political affairs have an important place in the Radio: “The current political, social and economic issues prevailing in the region are discussed every Saturday in the West Nile We Want. Leaders are invited to account to the local community.

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The latest entry in the schedule is the Conflict Sensitive Journalism program. It promotes a conflict sensitive approach to news coverage and programming. It advocates that media practitioners take a more active role in finding solutions to conflicts within their jurisdiction through their daily journalistic work”. West Nile is a multiethnic region. People speak a variety of languages, making it difficult – if not impossible – for all inclusive programming on radio. Yet radio remains the media tool to reach all the communities of the region. The radio is the only medium that can reach and deliver programs, news and advertisements to communities unreachable by other electronic media in the region. Radio Pacis offers the advertiser a strong, clear signal that reaches the entire West Nile with quality programming and reasonable rates.

Radio of the Year

Father Pasolini recounted for us the history of the Radio: “The radio station is owned by Arua Diocese and requests for the radio were echoed in two diocesan synods: 1994 and 1999. In 2001, Bishop Emeritus Frederick Drandua appointed two missionaries with the mandate to initiate the radio station. In February 2008, the radio began broadcasting 48 hours a week. Later this expanded to cover the whole day, well into the night. In June 2008, a process was begun to research the feasibility of putting another mast in Gulu in order to relay the programming to that area of northern Uganda. Since then Radio Pacis has grown in its offer of programs: entertainment, music and information, targeting the holistic development of the human person and community”.

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Radio Pacis is now seeking the license to be able to broadcast from Kampala targeting primarily the people of Northern Uganda (Lögbara, Kakwa, Alur, Madi, Acholi) who live and work there. Father Pasolini recalled that: “In 2007, the BBC World Service sponsored a competition celebrating the excellence of English language radio journalism in Africa. The judges selected Radio Pacis as the “New Radio Station of the Year”, in all of Africa! The BBC wrote: “Radio Pacis is a fine example of what a community radio station based outside the capital can do. The judges are convinced Radio Pacis contributes significantly to knowledge and development in the area”. (F.L.)

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