Musekeweya (New dawn) is a fictional radio soap opera produced by Radio La Benevolencija, a Dutch NGO that has been working in Rwanda since 2003. The central mission of the organization is to empower groups and individuals that form the target of hate speech and ensuing acts, and to strengthen the population as a whole to resist incitement to violence. New dawn explicitly means the end of sad times, and the start of brighter days.
Musekeweya was first aired in May 2004. In the aftermath of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994, the Rwandan community was torn apart. Musekeweya was launched as a healing tool for psychological wounds that were caused by the genocide, with the aim of ensuring that Rwandans could live together peacefully again.
The messages contained within Musekeweya are based on the academic research of Professor Ervin Staub of the University of Massachusetts and his work on how group violence can be prevented and how conflicting groups can reconcile.
The main goal of Musekeweya is to explain a theory coined by Staub titled the Continuum of Violence, which seeks to explain the escalating stages in group violence, how to take preventive measures to avoid them, and how to achieve sustainable reconciliation. The second goal is to promote active bystandership, because passivity in violence affirms the perpetrators and facilitates the evolution of harm doing.
The plot of Musekeweya is based on a set up that is easily recognizable for most Rwandans: two villages, Bumanzi and Muhumuro, situated on two opposing hills with a marsh land in between. The villages live through years of land disputes as the quantity of land available is very limited, and the quality differs from place to place. Tensions are further heightened by the fact that people have different (but unnamed) ethnic identities. A third village of Mugereko was added in 2008.
The soap has negative and positive characters, and as in real life, people intermarry. The soap is an excellent means of reducing intergroup prejudice and tensions by encouraging all social groups to interact and engage with one another in deeper, meaningful life projects.
Popularity of Musekeweya:
Started in 2004, the soap remains highly popular today. Letters, phone calls and testimonies from listeners, confirm this. Musekeweya has a high listenership from both Rwanda and abroad. The last Musekeweya popularity survey showed that 76% of Rwandans tune in to listen to Musekeweya every week.
Musekeweya is broadcast on Radio Rwanda, Radio Izuba and Radio Huguka. Listen at the following times:
Musekeweya is currently funded by SIDA under the Rwanda Peace Education Programme and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Rwanda.
- Wednesday and Friday at 8.40 PM on Radio Rwanda
- Thursday at 8.00 PM and Saturday at 8.00 PM on Radio Izuba
- Thursday at 6.00 PM on Radio Huguka