Soap opera to heal communities and build understanding of the roots of genocide
I was Head of Mission of the Rwandan Reconciliation Communications project for La Benevolenija from 2003 – 2004. During that year I brought the radio drama “Musekeweya” ( which means “new dawn” in Kinyarwanda) from a concept to getting it broadcast on air. I managed a detailed research process to understand how people talked about and understood trauma and the roots of the genocide, and developed a message design and feedback approach based on audience participation through the creation of local listener groups. I developed the key educational message document (based on the work of two psychologists Irvine Staub and Laurie Pearlman) that were communicated in the radio drama series and worked with script writers and an acting troupe to develop the storyline and the first scripts of the radio drama series. I also managed the development of the programme jingle and logo.
The project was later evaluated by Betsy Levy Paluck, then at Harvard University, and found to have influenced group listeners’ perception of social norms and behaviours in relation to issues such as ethnic intermarriage, open dissent, trust, empathy and cooperation.
Watch a video on Musekeweya
Tuning into different wavelengths and power point presentation presented at the Fourth International Conference on Entertainment-Education and Social Change, Cape Town, South Africa, September 26 – 30, 2004 in South Africa.
I presented an abstract on the project and was a discussant on “Interpreting Crisis in the media and the arts” at the “Culture of Reconstruction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the aftermath of crisis,” University of Cambridge