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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy in Media Studies
Title The Media in Society: Religious Radio Stations, Socio-Religious Discourse and National Cohesion in Tanzania
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL https://epub.uni-bayreuth.de/1681/1/LAST COPY-PUBLICATION.pdf
This study investigates on the one hand the framing of issues and the presentation of socioreligious
discourse in Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan while on the other hand
identifying meanings which audiences of the two radio stations construct. Specifically this
study focuses on the broadcasting activities of Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan,
meanings which audiences construct in relation to mshikamano wa kitaifa (Kiswahili: national
cohesion) in Tanzania. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority
(TCRA), a religious radio is a non-commercial radio station owned and run by a religious
organization or group for religious goals. In Tanzanian context, religious radio stations are a
product of the 1990s liberal economy. Historically, it was not possible under Ujamaa policy
to think about having a private ownership of media in Tanzania. During the presidency of
Julius Nyerere (1961-1984) ethnicity, religion as well as private media were viewed as
divisive and would harm the national unity. In order to avoid such a phenomenon Nyerere
nationalized the major means of production including the media, and adopted utaifa
(nationalism) and undugu (fraternity) as frames of mshikamano wa kitaifa and umoja (unity)
in Tanzania.
Specifically, the study answers the following theoretical and empirical questions:
(1) What informs the packaging of the programmes of Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio
Imaan? (2) What are the contents of programmes broadcasted by Radio Maria Tanzania and
Radio Imaan? (3) How do Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan deal with the socioreligious
discourse prevailing in Tanzania? (4) What kinds of meanings do audiences
construct from the broadcasting activities of Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan? (5)
What are the implications of the constructed meanings on national cohesion in Tanzania?
Data were generated through questionnaires, semi-structured interviews; focus group
discussion, qualitative content analysis, discourse analysis and participation in listening to
programmes of the two radio stations were used. Apart from that, informal discussions,
visiting weblogs and newspapers as well as the academic setting of Bayreuth International
Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) shaped the data collection and writing of the
research report.
Five central conclusions have emerged. First, programmes of Radio Maria Tanzania
and Radio Imaan are set to serve audiences in spiritual and material needs. This approach
informs the setting and packaging of programmes. In this way, the two radio stations have
programmes on spirituality, human promotion and welfare, news and information and social
programmes. Secondly, there is an exclusive element in the contents of programmes of Radio
Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan. Under this phenomenon, Radio Maria Tanzania serves
Catholic Christianity. Due to this situation, Radio Maria Tanzania hardens the doctrinal
differences within Christianity as well as intensifies the intra-religious conflicts. Similarly,
due to differences in doctrines and religious practices between Christianity and Islam, issues
on Islam and Muslims come to the contents of Radio Maria Tanzania in the form of questions
from audiences. On the part of Radio Imaan, programmes and contents are planned to serve
Muslims. However, due to differences in doctrines and traditions, Radio Imaan serves mostly
the group of Ansar as-Sunna/Sunni Muslims. In so doing Radio Imaan strengthens the gap of
differences between groups of Muslims. Thirdly, the framing of issues in some programmes
of Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan provoke audiences and cause socio-religious
tensions and mistrust among audiences in Tanzania. This aspect is also demonstrated in the
engagement of Radio Maria Tanzania and Radio Imaan in the “politics of religions” in
Tanzania. Due to this phenomenon, the two radio stations are partly forums of accusations
and counter-accusations as far as “politics of religions” in Tanzania are concerned.
Fourthly, discourses on mfumokristo (Kiswahili: Christian hegemony), kipindi cha mateso ya
kimfumo [kwa kanisa Tanzania] (Kiswahili: Systematic persecution of the Church in
Tanzania) and udini (Kiswahili: religionism) have amplified and become interpretative and
expressive tools to the extent of causing demonstrations, hate speeches, claims of exclusive
rights in some socio-religious spheres as well as socio-religious clashes between Muslims and
Christians in Buseresere village. Moreover, the discourses of mfumokristo and kipindi cha
mateso ya kimfumo [kwa kanisa Tanzania] cause mistrust over the government because in
the application of these concepts each group views the government as favouring one part at
the expense of the other.
Finally, while at an individual level Christians and Muslims maintain friendly relations
however at a community level there are incidents which destabilize national cohesion. Guided
by a shared mentality, some groups of Christians and Muslims use concepts such as
mfumokristo, kipindi cha mateso ya kimfumo [kwa kanisa Tanzania], udini, “halal”
(Kiswahili: meaning ritually allowed for Muslims and “haram” (Kiswahili: meaning ritually
forbidden for Muslims) to interpret different spheres of life in Tanzania to the extent of
threatening national cohesion which is expressed under the values of utaifa (Kiswahili:
nationalism), undugu (Kiswahili: fraternity). Due to this, in the context of Ujamaa policy, in
Tanzania, religion and religious media even after more than 50 years since the assumptions of
Julius Nyerere are still sensitive as far as undugu and utaifa are concerned. There is a need
for more time for the broadcasting activities of religious radio stations to better serve
Tanzania in the spiritual and material development of audiences.

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