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The Team Inspires Youth in Burundi

2011 November 10

Burundian youth participated in a music competition that cummulated into a festival with three finalists.

Since May 2011, SFCG in Burundi has been implementing a multi-faceted campaign aimed at non-violence and reconciliation among youth as a response to the tense political environment and growing insecurity. Following the failure of the 2010 electoral process to secure lasting peace dividends, tensions have been running high between youth members of different political parties, at times spilling over into political violence. With poverty and high unemployment leaving youth vulnerable to manipulation or even recruitment into the nascent rebellion, the need has never been greater for positive outlets for youth energy.

In light of this context, SFCG launched The Team, with support from UKAID, to encourage all Burundians, and particularly youth, to engage in peaceful cohabitation amongst their diversity and to fight all forms of manipulation. A key aspect of the campaign was a bi-weekly radio series called Intamenwa! – The Indivisibles! about a football team of the same name.

Over 32 episodes, listeners followed Muravyo and Doddy, two team members from completely different social backgrounds, as they tackled issues of money, love, manipulation, and politics. The series showed the Intamenwa! players coming to realize that for their team to win the match, they must overcome their ethnic, political, socio-economic and regional differences, and stand united.

The series was broadcast nationwide and SFCG received over 80 letters from different parts of the country in response to the program, illustrating how the characters touched rural and urban youth alike. As one listener commented “Muravyo has been an example to us: we must be courageous in spite of difficulties and always keep the team spirit, that is to say, mutual support, helping each other at school.”

You can see Muravyo and the other characters from the series in two promotional spots.

The Team campaign scored a major goal with Burundian youth by offering them the opportunity to send out their own messages of peace, tolerance and solidarity, through a music competition held in Bujumbura Rurale, Bujumbura Mairie, and Bubanza. In all, 38 music groups took up the challenge, with the three finalists also getting the chance to record their original songs and have them broadcast on the radio. The contest wrapped up with a music festival in Bujumbura where the three regional finalists performed to excited crowds of around 5,000 people. A short documentary made by SFCG’s partner Menya Media captures the hyped atmosphere at the music festival.

Youth who participated in the competition said that they appreciated being given a chance to show their talents, to gain the respect of their peers, and to send a message to other young people, while those in the audience commented that they were able to forget their problems for a day, and feel closer to youth around them. One audience member, identifying himself as impartial, asked that the songs be broadcast as widely as possible so that “young people understand that peace is not just the business of politicians, but each of us has a role to play.”

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