This profile was prepared when Tomás Mamani was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Tomás Mamani is reconstructing a world that maintains the positive aspects of ancestral culture through the means of community-based radio communication. Throughout the Andean region, he is creating radio networks which serve their communities. The communities learn to construct and manage their own radio stations, supported by electronics training courses and their own means of financing. Instead of being controlled by outsiders and subject to the rules and regulations of commercial, religious, or political interests, indigenous participants are free to broadcast in their own languages and cultures, respecting local and traditional norms.Tomás's primary objective is the rescue of the values and ethics of traditional culture, focusing on justice and history. Through his radio stations, he broadcasts oral history, legends, and traditions, so that this slowly dying culture can be revived and revalued. He uses the same model for all indigenous groups across the Andes.Tomás focuses particularly on youth, whom he teaches to value their traditions and freely express themselves. He is giving them tools to develop pride in their traditions and remember their roots, so that when they become broadcasters they will have the knowledge necessary to teach over the radio.