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Coppi Arbeitsgruppe für angewandte Technologie in der 3. Welt e.V.

This report will cover activities starting from April 1996, after the launch up to end February 1997.

Vukani Community Radio


The 30th March 1996, will remain in memories of the community of Cala for a very long time to come! That date marks the realisation of an idea that developed over a 3-year period of frustrating and hard work - namely the setting up of Vukani Community Radio. This date is when the radio was installed and ten days later, on the 9th of April 96, the station was launched. There was a general mood of excitement in the district as a whole!

In 1993, CALUSA took a decision of exploring possibilities of setting up a community radio in Cala. This idea coincided with arrival of a delegation from Germany, that was on an exploratory visit to South Africa, to identify communities where the concept of a community radio could be taken up. Having bought the idea, CALUSA applied for a license, in 1994. In March 1995, CALUSA made presentations to IBA, motivating for the radio. In October 1995, the application was approved. Funding constraints could not allow CALUSA to start operations of the radio until April 1996, hence the launch.

This report will cover activities starting from April 1996, after the launch up to end February 1997.

Objectives set for 1996

a) To popularise the radio through the launch.

b) To formulate a programme with other structures for a radio.

c) To organise relevant material for the radio.

d) To fund-raise for the radio.

Activities in 1996

a) Launch of the Radio: Vukani Community Radio was installed on the 30th of March 1996, and was launched on the 9th of April, 1996. A general mood of excitement in the district as a whole, marked this period. To mark the launch, invitations were sent to the following organisations: Trust for Christian Outreach and Education [TCOE] and all its regions, Eastern Cape Regional Educare Council in Bisho, National Educare Forum in Umtata, Catholic Development Centre in Umtata, Mineworkers Development Forum in Mount Ayliff, Health Care Trust in Cala, Xhalanga Council of churches, UNITRA Community Radio in Umtata, Xhalanga Soccer Association, Government institutions - Cala Hospital and other Government departments as well as local political organisations.
The establishment of Radio Vukani was made possible by international support we got from a German company of technicians [Coppi] and a promised funding from a German funder [Umverteilen]. As a way of popularizing the radio, some schools from the District brought school children to the studio, on educational excursions, to learn how the studio functions.

b) Programme of Vukani: A number of organisations were invited to form a forum of the radio. The following institutions responded to the invitation of Vukani by sending delegates to the Radio Forum meetings: South African Democratic Teachers Union [SADTU], Xhalanga Ministers and Church Leaders Association, CALUSA, Xhalanga Office of Ministry of Education and Culture, Cala General Hospital and Health Care Trust. A task committee made up of 4 people was elected from the organisations that participated in the forum, to draft a programme for Vukani Community Radio, based on the inputs given by the participants in the previous meeting.

Here below is the programme of the radio:

Time-frames Themes Presenters


Church issues & gospel

S.Z.Fetumane, N.Dywili


News update & music


Community announcements


Community issues

S. Nkomo, N.Arosi, T.Bavuma


Pre-school education


Micro Econ. Enterprises


Educational issues / Mother's Union

T. Qayi, N.Mbidlana, N.Mdyeshana


ABET classes


Children & youth


Sport announcements

N.Mboniswa, M.Nkwezi, N.Tulami, M.Kasana


Health education


Cooking and baking


News and current affairs

Z.Skeyi, L.Noyakaza, M.Qongqo


Community debates


Gender awareness


c) Organisation of material: In July 1996, Vukani approached music companies such as Gallo and BMG in Johannesburg, requesting them to donate CDs to the radio. This move was taken because the radio did not have funds to buy music material. A total number of 79 CDs was received from these two companies. We also got 13 audio tapes from Spider's Web that deals with primary health education. We also received audio tapes from Soul City on drama entitled "Intliziyo ephilisayo". These tapes contained 74 episodes. Lastly, we got 9 audio tapes from IDASA dealing with community issues like community policing and the debate about truth and reconciliation.

d) Fund-raising: Up to now, he have not yet received funding from Umverteilen, who promised us initial funding for the programme. Open Society Foundation of South Africa was also approach to fund the radio, which came in October 1996, to assess the radio. Through it is prepared, in principle, to fund us, there were some issues that it wanted to be sorted out before considering our application, e.g. that Vukani undergoes an organisational process. CALUSA followed this up at the beginning of 1997.

Problems and solutions

* Funding is still our most serious problem in that we have not been able to secure any financial assistance for the radio. Though the German donor promised us financial assistance, that promise is not yet been fulfilled. To address the matter, other funders have been approached, e.g. Open Society Foundation. There is also local fund-raising through advertisements that we are developing ideas on.

* Due to the problem of funding, the radio could not recruit presenters, to work on a full-time basis. As a way of addressing the problem, volunteers were recruited into the programme.

* Through introduction of volunteers posed as a solution, training of those volunteers has been another problem that the organisation had to address. Exposure visits to other radio stations have been used to orientate the volunteers. Some of the volunteers have been taken for training in certain areas such as primary health care programming. Efforts are being made to identify other training institutions.

* It is clear that we need to train certain staff members on basic maintenance of the radio or get somebody who has maintenance skills. This weakness was exposed when the radio went off air on the 27th April 1996, for 5 days due a technical fault. We got a technician from Radio Transkei, who came to assist us fix the fault. The fault was attributed to electricity fluctuations in our area, that caused the mixer to blow up. On the 11th September our radio experienced another problem which affected our transmitter. Funds permitting, we intend sending the radio co-ordinator for a technical training on radio maintenance.

* The electricity fluctuations in our area is a problem that is beyond our control. Electricity Supply Commission [ESCOM] has been approached to look into the matter. ESKOM's response is that the present electricity transmitter needs to be replaced.


We are presently networking with the following structures:

=> National Community Radio Forum, based in Johannesburg

=> Grahamstown Radio Station

=> UNITRA Radio Station, in Umtata

=> MAU Community Radio in Maclear and Ugie.

On the 7th - 8th December 1996, there was a delegation from Grahamstown and MAU Radio Stations, to share ideas and skills with us as people in the same region.


Though we have problems financially, we are determined to overcome them. This feeling is caused by the fact that there is commitment in people involved in the radio. Training of the personnel is a priority at the moment, so that the radio can produce good programmes. Good programmes will make the radio attractive to people and thus be usefull as a communication and a sharing tool [ideas and experiences] in our area.

By Sipho Tabo

[Radio Co-ordinator]

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