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When did FM radio presenters become relationship and marriage counsellors?

Posted by Administrator on October 18, 2011

I was quite amused to learn recently that, once upon a time in England, the ultimate contraceptive – according to Hera Cook in her 2004 publication, The Long Sexual Revolution: English Women, Sex and Contraception 1800-1975 – was “I have a headache tonight, dear”.

This ‘‘headache’’ tagline kindled memories of callers to Kenyan FM stations, mainly ladies, engaging presenters in tales of woe with their husbands or boyfriends.

I was particularly amused because, besides the pretensions to artificial headaches being alive and kicking in popular banter on the radio talk-shows, they are neither new nor strange.

The difference, however, is that this time round, man-made headaches are no longer prevalently the contraceptive they used to be in England some time back, but an expression of gender power – whatever that might be!

Similar headaches and related creative thrusts have today become a major source of inspiration for public debates in secular FM shows.

On the other hand, I was alarmed to realise that matters that ideally ought to be directed to the priesthood and counselling outfits have now been assigned to FM radio presenters by the public.

Notably, some of the concerns – regarding relationships gone or going awry – are actually quite grave as they reveal ugly fissures that, if neglected, will certainly cost our society dearly.

In the prevailing crisis, the family unit will suffer the worst blow.

The voluntary choice by the public to anoint FM stations as centres of excellence for relationship counselling should shame the institutions and instruments that ought to handle such matters.

The very sensitivity of relationships calls for a meticulous approach to thoroughly resolving the disquiet there may be between the individuals involved, for it is true that the effects of troubled families and individuals endanger the quality of citizenship as well as productivity.

Therefore, those on whom the burden of relationship counselling falls should get very concerned that Kenyans have chosen to dump them and instead wash their dirty linen in public.

In fact, it is particularly disheartening that some of the sassy tales oozing from FM callers on air day in day out are from disenchanted faithful calling right from inside the priesthood or choir. If the callers from these quarters are not phoney, then this tells it all!

In the prevailing circumstances, it seems the confidence that congregants should adopt when forwarding their worldly afflictions and tribulations to religious ministers and counsellors has hopelessly waned.

Could it be that the priesthood is viewed just as hopelessly inept, aloof or judgmental and therefore no different from any uncontrolled audience after all?

The source of this liberal outpouring of anguish from broken hearts on air is most disturbing.

I read in it the demolition of boundaries of honour and shame quite tellingly pointed to by this liberal sharing of relationship miseries whether between spouses or boyfriends and girlfriends.

If so, this is a dangerous indicator of the collapse of the vital meshwork on which character and morality, and by extension, ‘‘souls’’ of nations are constructed.

I find it difficult to lay blame squarely on local FM stations insofar as the burden of counselling or offering relief to those bursting from the seams with pent-up frustrations is concerned.

In fact, the FM show hosts are largely innocent and do, perhaps, deserve commendation for providing a platform.

But in the first place, a breakdown of the set of rules of engagement or trust between those charged with the task of counselling and persons desiring counselling, must have occurred.

Alternatively, perhaps as society succumbed to the dynamics of change, religious outfits may have been left stuck in a time-warp where denial or a live-and-let-live attitude may have lulled monks, imams, ministers and priests into some deep sleep.

Whatever the case, if the chagrin expressed on air by FM callers – let alone the tonnes of telephone messages expressing the same – serve no notice to the gatekeepers of our national values, we must brace ourselves for unending live soap operas right in our homes cheered on by no other than our children.

God  forbid!

Dr Omondi is a social science researcher, University of Botswana

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/-/440808/1257050/-/item/1/-/11bi4pgz/-/index.html

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