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An Open Letter to the Board of Trustees, the Director General, the Africa Department Editor and Any other Influential Figure in the British Broadcasting Service (BBC)
After, the ringing sounds of Big Ben, London Calling used to be an opening statement by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) since it began broadcasting to the outside world though; one rarely hears it these days.
It is 75 years today when he BBC went on air with the bell tones of Westminster’s clock tower, Big Ben and the opening statement that followed. It must have been a momentous day for those who witnessed that event. I, for one, am not as lucky as these guys were in witnessing such an event though 45 years later I have gotten the first chance ever to listen to it, struggling to decipher every word the reporters said. And, since that day I have been glued to it regardless of place, time, etc; it only entailed the possession of a SW band Radio with new or functioning 2 to 4 Batteries.
On this occasion, of the 75th Anniversary of the BBC. I would like to extend my congratulations to the organization as a whole and wish for the best in its endeavors to make the world a place where information can move freely.
Undoubtedly, the BBC has consistently maintained a pioneering role in broadcasting ever since: it served as the only broadcasting service one would rely on for timely, accurate and balanced reporting world events, thus earning it much wider audience than any other.
The Bush House as commonly known runs 33 foreign languages by which programs are released. Indigenous broadcasters take the airwaves to get these programs to reach their intended audiences. Such diversity is what brings to the BBC the necessary connectivity with the outside world- a crucial factor that further endears it to its targeted audience.
Certainly, the Somali Service is one of these foreign languages that the BBC hosts. Since it was launched 50 years ago, it has been going from strength to strength with quality programs that kept listeners informed of the changing political, social and economic trends in the entire world.
This is largely due to the competencies of the Somali Broadcasters working for the Service whose criteria for hiring were rigorous. But the situation has completely changed into one of deep disappointment lately as the Service has been put under the wily-nily Somali fellow by the name of Yusuf Garad who abused the authority bestowed by the office to his own advantage by overriding the hiring criteria with unscrupulous practice of hiring broadcasters based on cronyism, clannism, etc.. which I would call the Garadism Phenomenon because of his daring move to hire four of his clansmen with no prior experience in broadcasting to work as broadcasters in one go and is still continuing to inundate the Service with his relatives from Somalia. What a shame!
Oddly enough, such unethical practice has never commanded the attention of the people in the upper echelon of the BBC, and it seems that they have looked the other way despite petitions from its valuable listeners worldwide. One finds this indifference on the part of the BBC Management ridiculous and unbecoming to the British values.
Moreover, with no restraining influence over his actions in place. Mr. Yusuf has never relented his pursuit for the cannibalization of the Service by manipulating the roles of the staff as he gave lucrative assignments to whoever he finds accommodating and kept those he finds threatening at bay. A case in point is his favoritism toward certain guy’s like Said. A. Muse, Yonis. A. Nur and Abdirahman Koronto as they have been on assignments in Somaliland and Ethiopia for periods longer than necessary and with no effects, whatsoever.
One wonders if this misplaced favoritism is responsible for the BBC’s losing grip on the few experienced broadcasters who are deserting it in favor of Voice of America. Abdi-Salan, Awke, Yabarow and others have already joined VOA, which soon will sure to overtake the BBC in terms of audience in a short period of time. And if so, please note that Bariise and the likes will never be able to fill in the shoes of these professional broadcasters who left the Service because of the Garadism Phenomenon.
Consequently, the Service is now teetering on the brink of collapse as the number of its regular listeners is dwindling day by day. And, if nothing is done about it, the resulting damage to its integrity will be immense enough to end up in a state that is beyond repair.
It appears, however, that the main culprit in the sorry state that the Service finds itself in at present, which any sensible person would agree with the assessment that it is too ineffectual to continue to be on air is no one else’s other than Yusuf Garad and nothing short of his dismissal can get the Service back on its feet again.
I am utterly disappointed by the fact that this 75th Anniversary has coincided with one of the oldest services (Somali Service) going down the drain and the need for saying it is becoming more urgent than ever. It is high time that BBC Board of Trustees, which is holding its AGM, to incorporate this issue into the other pressing matters under discussion. And if, what I am hearing is true put this Service on top of the list of those areas that are being examined if they qualify for redundancy in the drive to cut organizational costs.
This time London is calling to the Board of Trustees, the Director General, the Africa Department Editor and any other influential figure in the BBC to take the necessary action against Yusuf Garad, who pocketed the whole Service as though it were his oyster.
I wish the Somali Service was Garad-free.
Idris A. Ibrahim
BBC Regular Listener.