MINGKAMAN, South Sudan – Twelve Mingkaman residents, ranging in age from 17-years-old to 43-years-young, came together for a three-week Internews South Sudan Young Reporters training.
All came to learn the basics of radio and photography at Mingkaman 100 FM in January 2016. This is a follow-up to the first South Sudan Young Reporters training last April in Malakal.
Sixteen South Sudanese youth living in the Malakal United Nations Protection-of-Civilians site were trained multimedia skills by Internews. Following the training, many found work at various aid agencies in Malakal’s humanitarian hub.
“This training is about learning. I want to learn how to make radio and take nice photographs,” said 22-year-old aspiring journalist, James Machok.
Mingkaman 100 FM is a pillar in the community. It’s the only source of news and information from Lakes to Jonglei state, across the Nile River. Its broadcasts reach some of the most remote communities on both sides of the Nile in South Sudan.
The Dec. 15, 2013 crisis reached Bor, capital of Jonglei state, a few days after fighting broke out in Juba. Bor residents fled the violence and arrived, by boat, to Mingkaman, Lakes state, at the time a village known for its relative calm and security.
A host community of Bahr el Ghazal Dinka in Awerial County welcomed Bor Dinka from Bor County, Jonglei state.
Nearly 70,000 displaced people arrived by January 2014, causing a humanitarian emergency. International aid agencies flocked to Mingkaman from Juba, trying to provide basic necessities for IDPs setting up temporary shelters all over Awerial County.
Internews set up Mingkaman 100 FM, an information lifeline for the community.
The village of Mingkaman soon became a restive town, where host community began to blame displaced people, or IDPs, for the lack of opportunity. This tension led to communal violence, as clashes over land and cattle happened with alarming frequency.
Last September, youth from host community protested outside the gates of Mingkaman’s humanitarian hub. They were demanding job opportunities from aid agencies, claiming IDP youth were being hired over them despite equal qualifications.
Mingkaman 100 FM became the target of their frustration. A dozen youth stormed the gates and pushed their way into the radio station, assaulting staff before realizing the error. Youth soon apologized, on-air, for their actions.
20-year-old Josephine Yar was born-and-raised in Awerial County. She is an outreach worker with ACTED, Mingkaman’s camp management agency.
“I remember when Mingkaman was a small village. Now it’s grown so much. I think it’s become one of the biggest towns in the country,” Yar said. “I hope all youth can put aside differences and work together to develop it further.”
Mingkaman now rivals Bor as one of the biggest towns in the region. It has a 130 km road network connecting it to the capital, Juba. There are markets, banks, and community centres, not to mention a thriving cultural scene including traditional music, dance and sport.
“Will we receive a sitting allowance?” Emmanuel Gai asked the first day of training. I informed all youth that this was no traditional training, like those provided by aid agencies in the past.
This would help develop their media skillset and make them more employable as a result. All twelve stuck around and learned to record radio and take photographs.
“I want to learn more. This training taught us the basics of radio and visual storytelling,” said 22-year-old Mingkaman Young Reporter Isaiah Anguat.
To accommodate Mingkaman’s new Young Reporters, Mingkaman 100 FM will launch a weekly radio program in February, called Young Reporters.
The radio program will contain a mix of interviews, vox pops and live, on-air, presentation, with the help of Mingkaman 100 FM’s journalism trainer, to help improve skills further.
I know it’s a cliché to say, but I’m confident it will give voice to the voiceless youth. It seems the Mingkaman Young Reporters have a lot to share with the community.