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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Gil Ndi-Shang "The Radio"


In 2012, UNESCO declared 13 February to be "World Radio Day" honouring radio as a powerful medium for celebrating the diversity of humanity. Fittingly, on this date Cluster member Gil Ndi-Shang provides a look into his latest book called "The Radio and other Stories" which will be published shortly.

Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO, and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day, February 13 became known as "World Radio Day" commemorating radio as a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity. The radio also constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. To this day, radio remains the most widely consumed medium at a global level. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, as well as be represented and heard.

Gil Ndi-Shang, member of the Cluster's Research Section “Arts & Aesthetics”, has written a book titled The Radio and other Stories reminiscing in several of his life's anecdotes. In his latest book, he crafts a spiral of stories that connect diasporic life with home in all its uncanny complexity. The collection captures and coalesces diverse stories, voices, dreams, idiolects and idiosyncrasies in a poignant and dextrous blend of light-hearted humour and existential gravity. On moving into a new apartment abroad in his Bavarian hometown of Bayreuth, the narrator realises that some of his possessions and elements of his new neighbourhood open a window into a flurry of memories, serving as allegorical threads to his childhood, self-consciousness and discovery of the world. What begins as a personal narrative quickly cedes to a social archaeology, inviting the reader/listener on a homegoing journey in the backdrop of Cameroon’s tottering democratic trajectory. Modulated with poetry and music, The Radio tunes in to diaspora, home, nation, education, existence, religion as well as Mbum popular culture, showcasing creative re-appropriation and re-mixing of global trends and icons in specific communities. The book will be available by early March.

Excerpt of The Radio and other Stories

"As you dusted the radio, almost half-heartedly, wondering if you needed it at all, you said to yourself: 'Truly, the radio keeps tracking me, like the woman I shared with my father.' You had bought that radio as one of your latest strategies for learning German. The language seemed to you like a hydra and one needed to keep overhauling old methods and devising new tactics in order to apprehend it. In addition to that, you enjoyed sleeping to the tunes of Radio Bayern that most often played pleasant RnB music all through the night.  Then, for some time, you had gotten so busy with your thesis that your laptop took precedence over any other appliances in your room. Whatever radio programmes you still followed, like your long-time companions BBC Afrique, Focus on Africa and BBC News Hour, you did so on your laptop. But here was the radio again, in its physical form, accompanying you to your new apartment! As you held it in your hand, wiping it, you realized that, in many ways, you were a child of the radio, that the radio ran through your veins, that she lived in you and you could not deny her. Sometimes, when someone asked you what you missed most from home, you often answered: 'The radio.' Of course, that often sounded like a rather weird answer to an earnest question."

Gil Ndi-Shang is also author of the book Letter from America - a reference to a former BBC World Service programme.

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