Broadcasting from June to September 2011, L'Equipe (The Team) in Burundi was a 32-part serial radio drama using a football storyline to promote non-violence and reconciliation amongst young people. Two television spots, a music contest and concert, and messages by politicians calling for peace and unity complemented the radio series. The series is a local adaptation of a multi-national drama initiative being undertaken by Search for Common Ground (SFCG), which is designed to use sport as a unifier to transform social attitudes and diminish violent behaviour in countries dealing with deeply rooted conflict in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
According to SFCG, poverty and high unemployment leave youth feeling helpless and vulnerable to manipulation but The Team's message is that together, youth people can empower themselves and each other to be successful. The radio series, called Intamenwa! (The Indivisibles) was broadcast bi-weekly.
Intamenwa follows a football team of the same name, focusing on two players, Muravyo and Doddy, from two very different social backgrounds. Muravyo, a young man from a poor family is stigmatised because of his background but earns respect because he is such a good player. Doddy, on the other hand receives preferred treatment because his father is the president of the club and an influential, rich politician. The players on the team are from different social classes and there are prejudices and stereotypes they must deal with as they struggle to come together as a team and tackle issues of money, love, manipulation, and politics.
As part of the accompanying outreach campaign, two television spots were aired over 60 times on national channels to promote Intamenwa and its message of cohesion despite difference. Leaders from four of the major political parties also lent their support to the campaign's message by recording and broadcasting messages for peace and solidarity despite political differences. These messages were broadcast over 100 times on two major radio stations.
SFCG also held a music competition in Bujumbura Rurale, Bujumbura Mairie, and Bubanza, calling on youth to use music to express messages of peace and tolerance. Thirty-eight music groups submitted and the three finalists had 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. Click here to view a video of the music festival on Youtube.
Conflict Resolution, Youth, Sport
Ethnic conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi escalated to mass killings in 1972 and civil war in 1993. Burundi still faces conflicts about land rights and ownership caused by these violent events and the return of refugees. Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground works to transform the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving. SFCG uses a multi-faceted approach, employing media initiatives and working with local partners in government and civil society, to find culturally appropriate means to strengthen societies' capacity to deal with conflicts constructively: to understand the differences and act on the commonalities.
Search for Common Ground website and Final Evaluation of Intamenwa: The Team in Burundi on January 23 2012.