South Sudan: spreading the message of peace on-air
18 October 2012

The Kajo Keji Peace Radio Show co-hosts in the studio during a live programme in South Sudan. The radio is hosted by the Jesuit Refugee Service. (Sergi Camara/JRS)
The show was a natural and much needed extension to project activities. By putting peace messages on the radio, the entire community could benefit.
Kajo Keji, 18 October 2012 – The community of Kajo Keji will bid farewell this month to the regular Jesuit Refugee Service talk shows. The radio show sought to raise awareness of conflict resolution and peace building over the course of the past four years.

At the end of the month, as JRS closes its projects in the area, responsibility of programming will be handed over to ministry of religious affairs. As most peace activities, including these talk shows, have taken place in close cooperation with the authorities, this partnership will help ensure a positive transition for the future.

Ever since the first community radio station, Voice of Kajo Keji FM, was opened in 2008, the JRS show has been aired twice a month for two hours. Co-hosted by JRS Peace Building and Advocacy Coordinator, Yusto Lasuba, and the County Inspector for Religious Affairs, Gonda Taban Emmanuel, the programme introduced sensitive issues regarding conflict and peace building.

During the last half hour of the show, community members are offered an opportunity to ring in to share their experiences, opinions and comments. According to Mr Lasuba, this is the most popular part of the show. Approximately 10 listeners are put on the air every month. This segment of the show demonstrates where guidance is needed and messages need to be clarified. It makes for a real community-wide conversation.

"The show was a natural and much needed extension to project activities. By putting peace messages on the radio, the entire community could benefit", said JRS South Sudan Assistant Project Director in Kajo Keji, Jamie Dillon.

In Kajo Keji County, peace-building activities are particularly important to the community which comprises former refugees, internally displaced persons and others who have experienced the trauma of war. Conflicts caused by the actions of the Ugandan rebel group, the LRA, and the struggle for independence from Sudan have left deep scars – physical and psychological – on the community.

A tool for peace building. The shows provide an important outlet for community members to construct a foundation for sustainable development in the county.

"Without peace, no other programme can be implemented", as Mr Lasuba put it.

In a region with limited mobile phone coverage and no locally-printed newspapers, the radio provides an essential means to reach out and raise awareness in the community.

The shows are presented in the local dialect, Bari, so that to maximise their impact in the community. This ensures the broadcast "speaks to every last person in the village, provided they have the opportunity to listen", said Mr Taban.

In addition to issues of peace building, the shows also promote civic education. For instance, one of the shows in 2011 discussed important historical events in South Sudan. For many listeners living in exile, this was their first comprehensive history lesson – tailored for local ears.

During the national census and referendum, before the birth of South Sudan, JRS raised community awareness on these important events and encouraged grassroots participation. The high rate of involvement of Kajo Keji County, especially in the referendum, is partly attributed to these efforts.

Recent shows have also focused on human rights and inter-ethnic relations. "Representatives from community, peace facilitators and local leaders have been invited to share their views. Having these guests live on-air means that these people truly own the message", Mr Taban explained.

Since the shows began, "local mobilisation and participation have increased", added Mr Lasuba.

Community members have been much more willing to attend meetings and perform leadership roles. There has also been a strong reduction in mob justice, as people become more educated on the concepts of peace building and conflict management.

At the end of 2012, JRS will close the project in Kajo Keji after 11 successful years. The activities will be transferred to the local council to manage. It is hoped that the JRS legacy of educational and peace-building support will ensure Kajo Keji residents continue to develop and foster long-term peace. More than 12,000 people directly benefited from JRS activities in Kajo Keji in 2011.




Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
international.communications@jrs.net
+39 06 69 868 468