The Second-Annual RFPA Awards: Three African Journalists Awarded for Their Contributions to Peacebuilding
By Nathan Strand
Last month, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) hosted the second annual Radio for Peacebuilding Africa (RFPA) Awards in Kigali, Rwanda. The awards are presented to exemplary radio producers and journalists to recognize high quality radio programs that contribute to peace on the African continent. Awards are open to broadcasters across all of Sub-Saharan Africa and are given in three categories: Youth, Gender, and a Jury’s Special prize.
RFPA received a diverse selection of nominees for this year’s awards, including programs in English, French, and numerous local languages. The difficult task of deciding the winners in each category fell to a jury composed of journalists and peacebuilding experts from Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as from Europe and the United States.
Speaking about the ceremony, SFCG National Program Director Narcisse Kalisa said, “Search for Common Ground believes strongly in the power of Radio as a tool for peacebuilding in Africa. Journalists are our key partners in this initiative. We are proud to recognize the contributions of the talented radio journalists here tonight.”
Well over 50 people attended the awards ceremony at the Umubano Hotel in Kigali, including journalists from the Great Lakes Region and representatives of the Government of Rwanda, the international community, civil society, and the NGO sector. Also in attendance was SFCG’s special guest, the Rwandan Minister of State in charge of Social Affairs, Honorable Dr. Alvera Mukabaramba.
“Tonight I wish to congratulate Search for Common Ground and its supporters for their important contributions to maintaining peace through media in the region and in Africa as a whole,” said Dr. Mukabaramba. “Recognizing in Rwanda high quality programs that contribute to peace in Africa is a great honor. It supports our efforts as the Government of Rwanda to build and maintain peace for all the world, in partnership with the international community and the United Nations.”
The winner of this year’s Youth Award was Mr. Baron Nkoy, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. His program, titled Camps Luca, discusses a community in Kinshasa that is suffering from a water shortage. The program explores the effect of this problem on youth through interviews that get schoolchildren to talk about their experiences due to the lack of water and hygiene.
After receiving his award, Mr. Nkoy commented, “I produced this program because I wanted to transform the world. I would like to thank Radio for Peacebuilding Africa and Search for Common Ground for bringing me here to honor this work.”
Ms. Hortence Iradukunda of Burundi was this year’s recipient of the Gender Award. Her program Agateka Kawe addresses the challenges faced by widows in Burundi, including how they are perceived and treated by the family of the deceased. It explores crucial issues including inheritance and property rights, the widow’s role in the family, and how Burundian law affects widows and land ownership.
“My program tells a tragic story, common to so many women in Burundi,” said Ms. Iradukunda. “I want to thank the jury for paying tribute to these women and honoring their story with this award.”
Jury’s Special Award
This year’s recipient of the Jury’s special award was Mr. Umaru Sanda Amadu , from Ghana. Said Mr. Umaru of the RFPA ceremony, “I am so happy coming to the great city of Kigali to accept this prestigious award. Although Africa is quite large and diverse, we still face many common challenges to overcoming conflict. Radio can serve as a powerful tool throughout Africa to help build peace.”
Mr. Umaru’s program, called “The Fulani Revealed” explores an often-overlooked issue in Ghana, a country often considered a peaceful haven in West Africa. The program discusses the state of the Fulani living in Ghana: who they are, the crimes they are often accused of, and the discrimination they face in society. It examines the root of this discrimination, through testimonies from Fulani leaders and community members, as well as interviews with non-Fulani people about their preconceptions.
In addition to the ceremony, the winners spent several days traveling around Rwanda, visiting community radio stations and meeting with Rwandan journalists. Their stops included Radio Ishingiro, in Rwanda’s Northern Province, and Radio Ten in Kigali, where they observed a live broadcast of the popular girl’s empowerment program, Ni Nyampinga. These visits provided the journalists an opportunity to share their experiences in peacebuilding journalism and learn about the role that community radio plays in Rwanda.
All of SFCG and the RFPA Team would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s awards. For more information, and to listen to the award-winning programs, please visit www.radiopeaceafrica.org.
Nathan Strand is an international intern with SFCG in Rwanda. He is currently pursuing dual master’s degrees in Public Administration and International Relations at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.