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Power of the Wireless

Power of the Wireless

John Simon writes from Keffi, Nigeria about how the wireless helped him overcome the effects of social distancing and help teach youngsters about the pandemic.


I understand the concept behind physical distancing and why it is compulsory with COVID-19, but social distancing?! Not being able to converge and frolic with friends?! This was a mind breaker and a direct paradox to our values as social beings.

It sucked the fun out of my gregarious and engaging lifestyle. My job as a broadcast journalist became uninteresting because we could not host guests on live programs. Schools were locked down and bagging my B.Sc. degree in Psychology was like a dream far-off.  The isolation caused by Covid-19 made me introspective and helped me write more poems, one of which is titled “Virus”, a poem about how we had become prisoners in our own homes. My poem was published in a national newspaper and it was a breakthrough moment for me.

This uplifting event spurred me to do more with the little resources I had available, and so it was, one bright and sunny day that my boss brought up the idea of producing a radio program aimed at educating primary school children during the lockdown.

The programme which I titled “Listen and Learn” was a game changer in my Covid-19 experience. It felt different and I got a sense of fulfillment from helping to educate children using the versatile medium that is Radio. Radio lessons made learning more interactive for the children and helped them express their views more confidently than in a regular classroom due to the absence of prejudice (perceived or real) and because the children took pride in hearing their own voices on the radio. The reach of radio came as a real advantage because children in both rural and urban areas had access to the radio lessons. The beautiful thing was that these children brought in their world views and would use things familiar to them to explain questions and depict their thoughts in class.

Every day became an adventure in learning as I received phone calls from young pupils who attempted quiz questions and would call in to send shout outs to their friends, teachers and schools, most of whom they had not seen in a long time. This platform brought the children together and gave them an avenue to talk and communicate with each other. It gave them a sense of togetherness and though physically distant, they defied social distancing by using this medium as an avenue to stay socially active and connected. For me, it brought with it a sense of fulfilment and peace and gave me the opportunity to meet with children and bask in their child-like and quaint world-views.

There were some really funny moments on the show, some of which I remember vividly. During a CRK class, I asked which gifts the wise men brought to the baby Jesus and a child called in and said Gold, Myrrh and Franksentthis (this child has a cute lisp and could not pronounce Frankincense), it was such a hilarious moment but of course we couldn’t laugh on the show for fear of being misunderstood. Another time was when all attempts to explain to a 5 year old that we could not see her drawing of a bird because radio is not a visual medium fell on deaf ears. She just could not comprehend it and kept holding the picture against the radio (her mum eventually sent it via WhatsApp).

Listen and Learn was filled with such hilarious and nostalgic moments. It was a departure from my near depressive state that the anxiety of covid had brought with it. In time, the curfew was lifted and life returned to near normalcy. I also started a laundry business which I began by getting clothes from clients and returning them to their homes and offices. Now, I have multiple streams of income and Listen and Learn has impacted me positively in more ways than one.