The following is a wonderful story about one of the Search for Common Ground’s programs in Africa. The photo is of Laurent Kissindi, Congolese journalist and project coordinator, during radio broadcast. We took this story verbatim from the SFGC Newsletter…
SFCG Gets Youth Talking Across the Frontlines of the Conflict In the Great Lakes Region in Africa
While the bullets are flying in eastern DR Congo, and the region’s diplomats struggle to reach an agreement on the peace accords, youth from the Great lakes region are talking together via radio about conflict, about peace, and about building a new generation.
Great Lakes Generation (Generation Grands Lacs (GGL) in French) is a weekly radio program that is broadcast through an innovative use of internet, telephone and FM technology. This 60-minute live phone-in talk show for youth is simulcast on five radio stations in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo every Saturday afternoon, providing young people an unprecedented opportunity to talk, listen, and learn about the issues and challenges facing their region.
Each week GGL addresses a different theme such as identity, manipulation by leaders, gender, violence, youth participation in political life, issues of ethnicity and nationality, etc. Last week’s broadcast explored the subject of prejudice; how prejudice and stereotypes effect attitudes and behaviors. A recent program dealt with the difficult things “we don’t talk about,” cultural taboos and things that are uncomfortable to discuss in public.
More after the break.
The format includes invited studio guests, pre-recorded interviews, voice-on-the street interviews, music, and audience call-in. Listeners participate by calling in, sending SMS (text messages), or by email. Listening sessions, organized in collaboration with a university students network, are held in high schools and universities in the three countries, encouraging youth to listen, phone in, and discuss the subject after the program ends.
Each week the place of broadcast rotates between Kigali, Bujumbura and Kinshasa. The radio station webstreams the live broadcast, which is then picked up by the other four stations who broadcast it on FM. Young journalists from the partner radio stations host the program, and invite callers to phone-in in any of the six major languages of the region. GGL was launched at the end of 2006 and a recent survey showed that 63% of students from the three countries regularly listen to the program.
“Linking the youth from across Rwanda, DRC, and Burundi via radio used to be a dream. Now it’s happening every week,” explained SFCG DRC Director Lena Slachmuijlder. “GGL gives youth the chance to learn about each other, learn about conflict and manipulation and find ways to build a positive and collaborative future for this region. By listening to each others’ experiences, and learning about each others’ lives, stereotypes begin to crumble and people begin to talk sincerely. It is inspiring to hear it happen.”
“We inherit the stereotypes and prejudices from the politicians and our parents,” comments Alyce Akineza, Rwandan journalist and GGL host. “The problem in this region is that we don’t know each other. GGL helps us to discover each other, and we realize that we have a lot in common.”
Generation Grands Lacs is funded by the US Agency for International Development in Rwanda and DRC.