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‘Don’t think of banks’
BLANTYRE–At 43 Malawian poet-cum-broadcaster Gospel Kazako may be among the richest young men in Malawi but the millions he has accumulated haven’t disconnected him from his humble beginnings
Kazako, owner of one of Malawi’s most successful private radio station – Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), calls himself a complete person.
“I’m a complete human being because I have experienced what it means to be poor and what it means to be rich,” he tells Maravipost.com in an interview Monday. “Some people don’t know how it feels to be poor. The majority of policy makers throughout the world haven’t felt the real pain of the poor.”
Born on December 29, 1968 to a watchman father and an unemployed mother, Kazako calls himself one of the luckiest people in the world to realise his dream despite his humble beginnings.
“I have always considered that everything is possible,” he says. “Everything you have seen in this world mean it can be done, there is a possibility it can be done.”
Starting off at the state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Kazako says he noted that there were gaps in the broadcasting arena that someone had to fill. He says there were a lot of limitations not only in political reportage. For instance, he says other radio stations that emerged after the fall of one-party dictatorship in 1993 had the elite in their mind as their target audience.
“I thought I should target people without money,” he recalls. “I thought radio was fluid, it can change everything if managed well.”
He says it didn’t take time for ZBS, which was established in 2005, to find a foothold in Malawi because its target audience – the poor – are in the majority. For five years running ZBS has been the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) Electronic Media House of the Year. Its journalists have also ended up finalists at the CNN/MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Award.
And because of the trust it has among the majority in Malawi, against all odds, the Malawi Electoral Commission – in consultation with all political parties in Malawi – chose ZBS to become the official broadcaster for the 2009 general elections, not a small feat considering that the state-run MBC was seen as an automatic official broadcaster for any elections.
Kazako says ZBS’s secret is that it understands the needs of its target audience.
“We speak their language, we communicate easily with them and in us they’ve a trusted friend who can tell them the truth which the rich try to suppress.”
Kazako says throughout the world the rich try to oppress the poor by disorganising them with distorted information.
“You can’t oppress an organised entity, that’s why the rich try to continue disorganising the poor by giving them low-quality education so that they continue being oppressed,” he says.
Kazako says it is the mission of ZBS to empower the poor with the truth so that they can get organised.
“It’s not enough to say we are not biased; as broadcasters we should strive to give our audiences the untainted truth,” he says. “By telling the truth we are not looking for (political) change, no, we want transformation. If you want transformation you need true and accurate information that is not tinted.”
Perhaps this has its downside. Ahead of Malawi’s unprecedented anti-government demonstrations, in which 19 people were shot dead by police, a group of hooded hoodlums attacked a ZBS outside broadcast van and torched another of its saloon vehicles. No arrests have been made so far but Pres Bingu wa Mutharika accused ZBS “and other hostile” broadcasters of fanning the demonstrations.
However, Kazako refuses to blame to anyone for the attacks.
“We try to stand for truth to the extent that even if they bash us we don’t react, we’ve not reacted after we were attacked and we refuse to blame anybody because we don’t know who our enemies are…if any,” he says. “When you stand up after being attacked it means you’re spoiling for a fight. We refuse to stand up because those who try to oppress the truth are very powerful and we definitely will lose if we dare them.”
He adds: “We know our mission is far beyond the pain they may inflict on us.”
Kazako always goes back to the issues of poverty because, according to him, he understands it.
“I [was] a poor person for a long time so I know how to manage poverty better than riches,” he says. “In fact I survive better in poverty.”
He isn’t abashed about recalling going up poor. He slept without a blanket, sometimes had no food to eat and went to school with a single pair of trousers. He is obviously happy that his two sons and a daughter are well provided for but he makes sure they don’t take things for granted and reminds them that there are always people who don’t “have anything to eat the whole day.”
He agrees with the richest man in Scotland, Tom Hunter, who said during a visit to Malawi that “when I’m gone I would like to leave enough for my children so that they shouldn’t go without food but not too much that they may not see the reason to work”.
“That’s the spirit,” agrees the youthful Malawian media mogul.–maravipost
Read more: http://www.maravipost.com/malawi-politics/society/5759-behind-the-success-of-media-mogul-kazako.html#ixzz1YXz9Jmgb