Malawi: Convicted boy broadcaster to get own station
October 28th, 2009 - 14:02 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

To atone for the embarrassment suffered from the negative publicity received after a school dropout was convicted for running an improvised community radio station, Malawi’s Communications and Regulatory Authority (MACRA) today said it would donate state-of-the-art community radio equipment and a licence to Gabriel Mkondesi, a primary school dropout who operated the popular radio illegally.

Mkondesi was forced to pay a fine after his conviction for operating the radio station in his rural Mulanje district of southern Malawi where he introduced phone-in programmes to the community.

MACRA Communications Officer Zadziko Mankhambo said the body had received many complaints from the community where Mkondesi radio was operating, demanding to give them an alternative to the young man’s illegal service. Due to this “MACRA will donate the equipment and a licence to Mkondesi, probably next month, so that he can start operating programmes which can benefit the community,” he said.

Mkondesi was described by academicians and other quarters of society as innovative, creative and a genius. According to press reports, he wired together two radios and made it possible for listeners to air their views using mobile phones. His improvised radio station did have a proper studio for playing tapes or anything else – apart from the receiving and broadcasting the phone calls.

The service was highly appreciated by the local community until the police swooped on him and took him to court for the conviction. This solicited an outcry from the community and other legitimate broadcasters who solicited funds to free him from prison.