Musekeweya - Love Radio
In the context of the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, La Benevolencija's Rwandan radio soap, Musekeweya, is the subject of an exceptional trans-media exhibition, entitled Love Radio, by documentary photographer Anoek Steketee and journalist Eefje Blankevoort. This exhibition is being hosted by Amsterdam’s eminent FOAM gallery from the 11th of July to the 7th of September 2014.
KRO featuring Radio La Benevolencija’s Rwandan radio soap Musekeweya
On June 24th 2012 Dutch Public Television aired an episode of ‘Reisadvies Negatief’, a program produced by the KRO in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, featuring part of Radio La Benevolencija’s work in Rwanda.
Are you interested please click the link below to visit KRO’s website and watch the episode online:
Close to ninety percent of Rwandans listen to our radio soap series Musekeweya, meaning ‘New Dawn’. Like in all soap dramas, the characters wrestle with hate, revenge, jealousy, murder, greed and love affairs. What makes Musekewya unique is that it explicitly deals with the psychology of incitement to hate and violence that lead to mass conflict, as well as the process of trauma healing and reconciliation. To this end La Benevolencija developed a total of 32 messages, based on the work of Ervin Staub and Laurie Pearlman, La Benevolencija’s academic team members.
The plot of the story is based on a set up that is easily recognizable for most Rwandans: two villages, Bumanzi and Muhumuro, situated on two opposing hills with a marsh land in between. The villages live through years of land disputes as the quantity of land available is very limited, and the quality differs from place to place. Tensions are further heightened by the fact that people have different (but unnamed) ethnic identities. Of course the soap has negative and positive characters, and as in real life, people intermarry. The soap is an excellent means of reducing intergroup prejudice and tensions by encouraging all social groups to interact and engage with one another in deeper, meaningful life projects. Started in 2004, the soap remains highly popular till today. Letters, phone calls and field visits by actors, confirm this popularity.
Every year, the overall storyline and the incorporation of messages are agreed on in a yearly storyline workshop. A lot of stakeholders do participate in the workshop: script writers, staff of Benevolencija, an academic team member, but also representatives of Rwandese organisations like the Ministry of Justice, Rwandan Bureau of Information and Broadcasting, members of La Benevolencija’s grassroots associations and the National Service of Gacaca Jurisdictions for example. Such a wide range of participants provides a strong basis for adapting the messages most effectively to the actual context. It also provides La Benevolencija with an opportunity to engage with representatives of the Rwandan government over sensitive topics in a transparent and inclusive way.
Recently it was discovered that the soap is also highly popular among FDLR rebels in neighbouring DRC, providing an excellent opportunity to use the soap for broadcasts to sensitize this elusive, rarely reached rebel grouping, responsible for some of the worst acts of atrocities, especially atrocities involving sexual violence, on the other side of the Rwandan border, in the restive Kivu region of the DRC.
Musekeweya Radio Fragment (English subtitles)
Musekeweya (New Dawn), a popular radio program that airs weekly in Rwanda, spreads messages of reconciliation and how to recover from trauma to listeners throughout the recovering nation. Produced by Radio La Benevolencija, a Dutch NGO, the series focuses on conflict between two fictional Rwandan villages, Bumanzi and Muhumuro. The program has been on the air since 2003. A Yale University study conducted in found regular listeners are more likely than other Rwandans to report increased trust in their communities and are more likely to believe their mental health would improve by talking about their traumatic experiences during the genocide. The scripts, written and performed by Rwandans, are approved by psychologists before they go to air.
This audio is an episode of Musekeweya.