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Radio soap opera in the Great Lakes Region

January 26, 2011

Rebel militias, illegal trade of precious metals and arms dealing come to mind first when one mentions borders in the Great Lakes region: petty corruption and illegal import of soap or palm oil may not be as sensational in the eyes of international media, yet they are certainly part of daily life for local officials and communities in these border areas. Trade provides income to thousands of small-scale traders and their families. The vicious circle of corruption and evasion increases smuggling, bribes, and sexual exploitation, these acts strain relationships between border officials and traders and among the traders themselves.

SFCG, with support from USAID, has launched a radio soap opera that will air in targeted border areas to raise awareness and foster discussion on these issues. The twice-weekly soap opera “Tuonane Sokoni”,  or “See you at the market” in Kiswahili, depicts the daily struggles of three women: Noella and Bintu, two small-scale traders, and Sylla, a custom official. The storyline provides information about new initiatives to improve cross-border trade, while also addressing stereotypes and attitudes that serve to hinder regional cooperation and coexistence. Radio broadcast targets key border points in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, namely the cities of Uvira-Gatumba (Burundi); Bukavu-Cyangugu (Rwanda); and Goma-Gisenyi (Rwanda). Listen to the first episode, available on SFCG’s Radio for Peacebuilding Africa project site.

Tuonane Sokoni started broadcasting in December 2010 on three radio stations:

  • RTNC GOMA : Every Thursday at 8 PM and every Sunday at 8PM
  • RTNC BUKAVU : Every Thursday at  8.30 PM and every Sunday at 7:30 PM
  • RTNC UVIRA : Every Thursday at 7PM and every Sunday at 7 PM

As of late January, the show will also be broadcast on Radio Isanganiro in Burundi; broadcast is being explored in Rwanda as well.

This soap opera is a component of SFCG’s Supporting Trading for Peace project funded by USAID. It aims to secure trade routes between Burundi, Rwanda, and the DRC so that regional economic activities can develop. It focuses on information and dialogue, with the media sector playing an important role in ensuring that petty traders and officials alike understand the rights and responsibilities of cross-border traders. Other project activities include monthly radio roundtable discussion programs, trainings for petty traders and border officials, community forums, and a trade festival.

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