Lifestyle & Belief

Rwandans are tuning in to a different sort of radio this April


Acleo Mugisha is a producer at Radio KFM in Kigali, Rwanda.


Acleo Mugisha

Local radio stations in Rwanda are turning to new sorts of music and programming to mark the genocide's 20th anniversary. 

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Radio continues to be a powerful media in the tiny African nation.

It's trying to shake the sad legacy of the role it played during the massacres in 1994.

Back then, announcers from stations like Radio Mille Collines broadcast instructions ordering ethnic Hutus to hunt down and kill their Tutsi neighbors.

These days, Rwandan radio stations are especially sensitive to ethnic differences.

During the month of April, stations broadcast almost exclusively songs and tributes to those who perished in the massacres, says Acleo Mugisha is a producer at Radio KFM in Kigali.

"To come from that system where the radio and the newspapers were used to turn people against each other, to coming now and using the same media for reconciliation has been a challenge for the producers and the media owners," Mugisha says. "But they've come up together and shown people that this same media which was used to disintegrate people can be used to unite people again."

Mugisha says that in April his station broadcasts many songs and poems that were not written by professional artists but by those he calls "local folks."

"Mostly people have to deliver CDs and cassettes to the station," he says. "When somebody has a passion to have his song aired on radio they always bring it down."

Acleo recommended two songs that he said appealed to younger Rwandans. One is called "Ihorere  Mwana,"  or "Relax Child" by Young Grace.

Here's a music video of the other:  "Never Again" by Dr. Claude Kalaos.