Friday, April 24, 2009

More From Our Own Correspondent is a collection of radio transcripts originally broadcast on the BBC World Service programme From Our Own Correspondent (FOOC). For those unfamiliar with the format of FOOC it is, according to the introduction, “a simple collection of radio essays written by correspondents eager to tell you about events unfolding in their part of the world”.

In More FOOC the correspondents look beyond the good and the great and for a few minuets tell us how the events making the headlines effect the ordinary everyday people. For a few moments the doctor, the nurse, the farmer, the clerk replace the president and the ministers and tell their story on the main stage.

Many of correspondents will already be household names including among them are Fergal Keane,Mark Tully and Jim Muir. The reader will move from report to report, from one corner of the globe to the other. With the correspondent the reader will attend a Maoist Wedding in Nepal, accompany honey hunters in Bangladesh, visit Iraqi refugee camps in Syria or visit high security prisoners with evangelical Christians in Mississippi.

There are however moments of poignancy and bravery. Alan Johnston recounts his 114 days spent in captivity in Gaza. While Natalia Antelava reports on the murder of an outspoken journalist in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Some of the reports from correspondents will come from counties caught in seemingly intractable conflicts. In a Kabul Hospital, Emma Jane Kirby accompanies a doctor returning from exile. The two discover a dilapidated hospital which is short on medical supplies and in a state of infectious decay. As she leaves a pharmacist plaintively enquires of her “I wonder if you could tell me: is anyone coming to help us?”.

In conclusion the last transcript could well be a paean to all those forgotten by the scribes of history, the very people FOOC reports on. Monica Whitlock, the correspondent in question, is reporting from Kampyr-tepe in Uzbekistan. Founded by Alexander the Great Kampye-tepe was at its height an important military base. Long since abandoned and forgotten, the city had only been recently been discovered and partially excavated by archaeologists. Outside of Kampyr-tepe at the site of an underground Buddhist monastery, far from all the glamour and gore of armies and empires, papers belonging to the monks are discovered in sealed jars.

“What did they say” Monica Whitlock asks her guide.
“Oh, they said that we too lived here”.

More From Our Own Correspondent is edited by Tony Grant.


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