Tuesday, 19 March 2013
(50): Wisal TV and Satellite Broadcasting in Hausa
Perhaps one area in which the Hausa language remained active is in international broadcasting. From the days of the empire service which was transmitting programmes to the former British colonies, to the establishment of international broadcasting units such as the British Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle etc; the Hausa language always has an active section in these international broadcasting centres. In fact in some of those media outfits, the Hausa service has the largest share of audiences compared to other languages.
Beyond the Western capitals, many developing countries have invested heavily in transmitting programmes in the Hausa Language. China, Egypt, Iran, Russia all have Hausa sections or programme slots dedicated to the Hausa language. In the last fifty years, veteran international broadcasters like Alhaji Magaji Dambatta, Dr Ibrahim Tahir, Alhaji Musa Musawa, Alhaji Halilu Ahmad Getso, Alhaji Ado Gwadabe, Malam Usman Muhammad, Dr Saleh Halliru, Malam Bala Muhammad, Alhaji Isa Abba Adamu, have greeted the airwaves.
Many more are still active in the field, and working very hard to inform us about international affairs, some of them with the dexterity and exceptional oratory that keeps you glued to your radio station. Space will not allow me to mention them now; perhaps one day there might be a chance to conduct a rigorous research on the contribution of these exceptional talents who work hard to make even the most illiterate Hausa speaker into a semi-professor of international affairs.
One area that the Hausa language remains behind is in satellite broadcasting. This is an area that many nationalities with cross border presence have embraced in order to educate their people, entertain their youth, acquire soft power, and remain visible in the international arena. Examples of such Satellite stations include Zee TV targeting Indian speakers at home and in diaspora, Telesur focusing on Latin America, as well as other Geo-cultural stations like Channel S, Islam Channel, Peace TV, Ben TV, OBE etc targeting large communities and serving their cultural, educational and religious needs.
The Hausa Language, which is widely spoken in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and with a growing number of students in England, Malaysia, United States and Cyprus; having an international satellite station is long overdue. That is why it is pleasing when some interested individuals and stations started investing in this important area. The coming of Africa TV which has a Hausa section and Sunnah TV which transmits in Hausa language will hopefully initiate the Hausa language and make it have a meaningful presence in the world of Satellite broadcasting.
Interestingly another effort being made to transmit in Hausa language to global audiences is through Wisal TV, which at the moment will start transmission from the city of Jeddah. I had the opportunity to visit the studio of the new station which according to the programme coordinator, Malam Aminu Saad, transmission will start in the next few weeks via Nilesat. Wisal will be transmitting various educational programmes and gradually move into current affairs.
The effort to have these channels is commendable, but for them to succeed, especially with the limited resources some of them operate, they need the goodwill of the audiences. This brings me back to the role of the veteran journalists, some of whom I have mentioned earlier. To run a successful TV station, you need professional hands to come up with quality programmes, ensure accuracy and fairness in presentation, provide in-depth analysis of news and current affairs, and above all respect and promote the values of the audiences.
Satellite broadcasting in the 21st century provides an essential tool for economic, educational and social transformation. It brings the world to your table, and if handled by competent hands, it can address the key issues bedeviling the society, and come up with practical solutions for the good of all.