Today we visited two radio stations. Lee, who has spent more of this life in Africa than on any other continent, drove as expertly as anyone I have ever ridden with. He dodged thousands of potholes – on some of the roads the surface area covered by potholes was greater than that which was not. Most of us wouldn’t even consider driving on these roads unless we were on our recreational 4-wheelers. However, one look at the cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, motorbikes, and pedestrians who are all over the road and one realizes this has the potential to be a very interesting ride!
Rarely are there any lines marking the middle of the road and it would be useless anyway since drivers swerve from one side to the other to avoid the next pothole, some of which are large enough to swallow a Prius. Speed bumps – which seem totally useless when there are so many potholes – combine with goats, sheep, dogs, chickens, cattle and children to add to the confusing obstacles. I enjoy a good roller coaster ride but like getting off when the ride is over. Imagine a continuous coaster ride which is also a demolition derby and lasts for more than 8 hours.
But it was worth it.
Comments from team members included:
“can’t get over how many different items you can buy while sitting in your vehicle. The selection is better than most convenience stores back home”
“crowds of people, swarms of people and still more people” (Greater Accra has a population of about 3 million)
“people will gather and sell anything”
“the level of poverty is shocking but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen so many people who seem to be so happy” (Average income is $3 or less per day. Many live on less than $1 per day.)
The first radio station we visited is located in a city called Asinfosu and the other is in Asamenkese – both have been on the air for six months. They are located in rented facilities and both have a reception area, news room, and studio. We saw up-to-date computers and digital broadcast equipment that almost seems out of place when the surroundings are so undeveloped. Here are some observations:
· At both stations the manager and staff are young, energetic, engaging. Their youthfulness is one of their greatest assets.
· Both managers talked about how the stations have embraced their cities by focusing on local news, sports, and events.
· The people have responded enthusiastically to the stations and the Gospel is being broadcast and life changing testimonies are being shared.
· Local tribal elders are welcoming the station managers because they understand how much influence radio has on the people.
One station has an Internet Café as part of their ministry. Ten computers are set up for people to use and most evenings there are people waiting. Again, it almost seems out of place but makes sense that followers of Christ are setting the pace with technology.
We were able to present a few of the solar powered radios at each station. TheoVision is HCJB’s partner in Ghana and they want to be very intentional about how the radios are distributed. The goal is to establish listening clubs or groups where a leader is accountable for those who listen to significant programming by leading in discussions and doing follow-up.
It was a grueling day. We did stop at a restaurant in Asamenkese for a lunch of chicken and rice or chips (French fries). Then, for supper, Lee and Michelle and several of their staff members, took us to an Ethiopian buffet. The food was excellent. The total absence of utensils was challenging. The conversation around the table was stimulating.
The experience today was priceless.