On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down outside of Kigali, killing all on board. In the midst of a civil war, and after years of tension between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, the Hutu majority in Rwanda blamed the Tutsis for the plane crash. On April 7, 1994, Hutus began a systematic genocide against all Tutsi and Tutsi supporters. The genocide lasted 100 days until July 15, killing between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people, almost a fifth of Rwanda’s total population.
During the genocide, the radio, Rwanda’s primary media outlet, served as a platform for propaganda and hate speech. Songs asked Hutus to “kill the cockroaches” and execute all Tutsis and moderates.
Ten years later, a scarred Rwanda, torn by mass killings and war, turned back to the radio. Musekeweya, a popular soap opera about two rival villages, asked its listeners to consider reconciliation and love in the midst of hatred and violence. The show broadcast stories of romance and forgiveness in the messy entanglements of war, on the same radio waves that formerly incited murder.
“With the help of listening to Musekeweya, we regained love and respect,” claims one Rwandan woman.
Love Radio- Episodes of love and hate is a mixed-media mini-series about the repercussions of the Rwandan genocide through the lens of Musekeweya. In seven 4-5 minute clips, the series looks at present-day Rwanda and the effects of nonviolent endeavors like Musekeweya to heal the anger and pain left from 1994.
Comprising images, journalistic writing, essays and video, the series has aired online every two weeks since April 7, the date that began the 100-day Rwandan genocide. The final episode will air June 26, marking the end of the 100 days. Each episode is split into two segments: the “On Air” segment summarizes an episode of Musekeweya, and the “Off Air” segment contains factual lessons on issues from propaganda to the spread of Christianity.
Love Radio draws viewers in with its deep connection to the history of the Rwandan genocide. Episodes are based on primary sources and facts and the Rwandan cultural phenomenon of Musekeweya. Love Radio is well versed in the issues it presents, but emotionally compelling and human enough to understand without historical context.
Love Radio doesn’t gloss over what Rwanda looks like today. The reality of Rwanda in 2014 has no happy ending yet. But Love Radio shows the complexity of resolution and the messy, but hopeful, voyage towards healing.
All episodes are available to watch for free online, and the final episode will air on June 26.