Every Wednesday the radios in Rwanda come to life as characters, familiar as old friends, emerge for another episode of the soap opera “Musekeweya” or “New Dawn”. An estimated 85% of radio listeners across the recovering nation tune in each week.
Produced by Oxfam partner Radio La Benevolencija, the series focuses on conflict between the two fictional Rwandan villages of Bumanzi and Muhumuro. The project uses soap opera to heal community and ethnic tensions and spread messages of reconciliation. The two villages may be fictional, but the tensions very clearly mirror those present in the run up to the 1994 genocide.
Increasing trust within communities
Musekeweya has been on the air since 2003. Independent evaluations have found it has succeeded in changing the attitudes of listeners and has increased trust within communities. It has also introduced a measure of constructive criticism into the natural respect Rwandan citizens pay their authorities
The radio program is helping to guide a population experiencing massive re-traumatization during the Gacaca or community justice system, how to recognize trauma and how to apply basic healing techniques. Musekeweya remains popular today, and continues to attract new listeners, especially among school children.
Oxfam has supported Radio La Benevolencija since 2007 through and will continue to work closely with their network of grassroots activists and teachers to embed the themes of the broadcasts in school curricula and debates.