La Benevolencija has produced different fictional radio dramas in Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Tailored to (and mirroring) a country’s specific context and dynamics, these dramas follow characters from different – often opposing – identity groups and backgrounds.
The characters all go through a process of manipulation and counteracting it. It allows its listeners to learn to recognize and resist hate speech and identity manipulation, and better understand the dynamics of violence, conflict prevention, reconciliation and trauma healing. Through complementary grassroots activities, audiences are encouraged to actively engage with the themes and topics addressed in the radio programmes.
The overall storyline and messaging are agreed upon in a yearly storyline workshop attended by a variety of stakeholders.
Benevolencija staff members and script writers, academic team members, donors and (local) government representatives. Involving such a wide range of stakeholders ensures a strong basis for adapting the messages to the changing contexts. None of the dramas however feature actual existing groups or locations. It also gives La Benevolencija the opportunity to engage with government representatives over sensitive topics in a transparent and inclusive way. We do remain strictly non-governmental.
The plot of Musekeweya (“New Dawn” in Kinyarwanda) is based on a setting easily recognizable for most Rwandans: two villages, Bumanzi and Muhumuro, situated on opposing hills with a marsh land in between.
The villages lived through years of land disputes, which evolved into a bigger conflict as characters started underscoring the different ethnic identities of the communities. Courageous active bystanders stood up against this manipulation and violence and made their fellow inhabitants aware of the manipulation and the actual causes of the conflicts. The two communities therefore live together peacefully again. However, they are now faced with an influx of refugees from neighboring countries, which leads to stereotyping, prejudices and extreme dehumanization about each other. All episodes are uploaded to the Musekeweya-website: http://www.musekeweya.org/
In the fictional village of Rusangi, two different ethnic groups coexist, Baseruko from the East, and Barengero from the West. It is said that the Baseruko have left the barren hills in the East long ago, to seek fertile farming land in the West, what caused land shortage bringing about conflict between the two groups. Baseruko were treated as invaders by the Barengero who originally lived there. The conflict will last for decades causing a lot of damage.
Some decades later, an unexpected discovery pushes a group of young people from both sides to question everything they had been told about the past of their village. Via social media, they launch a campaign called “Murika” (Shed light) to claim for truth. They want to learn from the past in order to prepare for a better future. But, will they succeed their mission while people involved in past atrocities see the campaign as a threat to them?
In North Bugo, a young sports teacher decides to open a gym close to the border. In this part of town, several conflicts have taken away the hope among the communities to live together in peace again. Through sports, the teacher seeks to build a new optimistic and inclusive generation. Because of his dual citizenship however, he is sometimes looked at with suspicion by the inhabitants. Rumors increase as rebels continue to meet in his gym and his refugee cousin moves into his house. Meanwhile South Bugo faces an institutional crisis. Authorities have failed to adequately manage a mine. As a consequence, a rebel group taken control over it, reducing revenues for all the inhabitants. As the villagers and refugees face the growing insecurity and the economic hardship, accusations and stereotypes between the different identity groups increase. A courageous young lady decides to stand up and mediates between the native villagers and the refugee communities.