When we have one sentence to explain Imagine Burundi we usually say it’s a radio program that “promotes social and economic development in Burundi.” But when we have a whole webpage to explain what we are trying to accomplish, we could fill volumes…we’ll try to keep this short.
Above all, we are interested in a different vision of life in an African country, as presented by the people living and working there. “Different” meaning affirmative and progressive. We are tired of viewing “Africa” through a lens that sees mainly suffering and poverty. Certainly those problems exist, certainly they seem overwhelming and intractable, but an unbalanced image of life on this continent will not guide us toward effective solutions. We wonder how these portrayals ultimately redound on the people living in these countries – how does constantly being shown to the world as a suffering people, as a group of victims, as the poorest of the poor impact the collective sense of self-efficacy and agency? Life in Burundi goes beyond guns and victims and HIV/AIDS; there are dynamic things happening in Burundi every single day and we want to tell you about them.
Imagine Burundi is different in a crucial way: we are not affiliated to any institution, religion or political party. We have donors and supporters and listeners, but our messages are entirely ours or our contributors’. It doesn’t mean we don’t talk about the essential things, like government and economic development and fairness – in fact, we do. A lot. With a watchmaker’s attention to detail, but we don’t believe you need to carry a banner or take sides to have meaningful discussions. One of the most important but also most delicate things we try to do is to view these potentially volatile topics from new angles and speak about them with new voices. There is a subtle distinction between being political and talking about politics. The former is often divisive and shrill; the latter might actually get us somewhere. We don’t feel like we are speaking the Truth, but many small truths. We help by continuing on and adding a small piece each week to a growing body of work that includes more people, more creativity and more voices that speak to a different perception of life here in Burundi.
Ultimately, we hope that Imagine Burundi will lose its unique position over time as the only such forum currently on the air in Bujumbura. We hope to see more programs spring up that take a different starting point for their topics, that views a country like Burundi not as a laboratory for development ideas or a land of constant suffering. Not everyone here is a victim and there are activities that are not defined by war or poverty. Despite its past, Burundian society has many elements that comprise a vibrant whole, much the same as any city in Europe or Asia or North America. There are arts and businesses and, simply put, people going about their lives. We hope we can contribute to a narrative that includes these stories as well.
So who’s listening to Imagine Burundi?
We used to say we’re not sure, but now we have a better idea. We know who we want tuning in: students, professionals, confidence men (and women), restaurant owners, the Burundian diaspora, development workers, entrepreneurs, really anyone who is interested in Burundi and/or who is intellectually curious. There are no ratings systems in Burundi so it’s to say with certainty, but we think our listenership is growing each week. Every week, we receive messages of encouragement from listeners, new and old. They ask questions, contribute ideas and show a curiosity about our topics, our guests, even our team. We’ve been reaching out to neighborhoods all over Bujumbura to seek out self-starters and motivated learners.
Here are photos from a few such visits:
And you know what? We still say Imagine Burundi is the most listened to locally-produced English radio program in Burundi. Our listeners are telling us that’s the truth.
Imagine Burundi is an English radio program that airs each week on 99.4 FM CCIB in Bujumbura and many parts of Burundi. New episodes are played on Saturdays and replayed on Wednesdays, both at 3 p.m.
Email us at email@example.com or send us a SMS at (+257) 79.330.456
Site Contents © 2011 Imagine Burundi