MANYANG MAYAR: The Journey from VOI TO VOA

Fifteen years ago at Quiver Secondary School in Senior 3, I used to cover stories from around the school; issues concerning students, school administration and the community.

I founded Voice of Information (VOI). Every Monday and Friday, I stood before the parade and read out the news using my voice. I read the intro and let my reporters from the classes read the tracks, something I learned from my frequent listening to BBC’s Focus On Africa.

One day, one of my stories became a disaster.

One of our beautiful ladies in senior 3 was caught having a sexual affair with a business man living in the community near the school. I was there when the wife of the man was harassing the girl and referring to our schoolgirl as a bitch for taking a share from her man.

On Monday morning, the incident became my lead story.

“One of our school girls in senior three is in love with a local businessman for money. The wife of the man discovered the affair and called our school girl a bitch…!”

I could not finish the full story.

The girl fainted and students rushed in to rescue her. I immediately stopped the broadcast and went to the students dormitories.

I was later summoned to the headmaster’s office and made to appear before a furious team of a disciplinary committee. I was charged with a term I never heard before; ‘Defamation’! My English teacher who was part of the committee helped to translate the term. He said I had assassinated the character of the girl. Because I didn’t know what the term really meant, I simply admitted.

And then there was a verdict.

I was given 20 lashes on my buttocks. I was given a 10 X 25 meters of a tall grass land to slash and to dig a one metre deep hole for the school trash. Thanks to my team of reporters and listeners. The punishment, except for the lashes, was shared and I was successfully cleared.

That incident taught me to be careful today at VOA where I am no longer dealing with students or school issues but with politicians and national issues.

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