WASHINGTON, D.C. — A year after launching its first-ever Bambara language radio show for audiences in Mali, Voice of America has added a dynamic new call-in program called An ba fɔ! (in English, We’ll Say It).
The hour-long weekly radio show airs on Saturdays at 8 p.m. local time on VOA’s 24/7 FM transmitter in Bamako and is also available online. Each episode addresses a topic critical to audiences in Mali, including security and stability, education, women’s rights, and youth unemployment, which was the focus of An ba fɔ!’s debut episode on Jan. 11.
“We are excited to be able to provide this kind of platform, which allows a large swath of Mali’s population to debate and discuss these important issues in a widely used language,” said VOA Africa Division Director Gwen Dillard.
In An ba fɔ!’s first episode, Mali’s Minister of Labor and government spokesman, Mahamane Baby, joined via telephone from the country’s capital, and took questions from callers and from listeners who weighed in via text message, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.
The minister encouraged young people listening to the show to consider careers in agri-business, to help relieve food shortages in the country and alleviate soaring youth unemployment. He was joined by Mali’s former minister of labor and former minister of technology and communications.
“For our very first broadcast of An ba fɔ! to feature high-profile guests from the Malian government shows that it’s already being seen as a big deal in the country,” said VOA’s French-to-Africa Service Chief Jeremy Groce.
Each episode of the new show also features a short radio drama created by a local Malian troupe, and a community news segment, where mayors and community leaders around the country have a chance to tell audiences what’s going on in their area.
An ba fɔ! is hosted by Kadiatou Traoré, Modibo Dembélé, and Mohamed Toure, who are also part of VOA’s Mali Kura (New Mali) reporting team. Mali Kura is a 30-minute Monday-through-Friday news radio show that debuted last February. VOA is the first international broadcaster to offer a call-in program in the Bambara language.
Along with Bambara, Voice of America also broadcasts to Mali in French and Songhai, a language spoken mainly in the north of the country.