South Sudan: Spreading the message of peace on-air
10 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).
Since 2008, JRS radio talk shows have been consistently put on-air.
Kajo Keji, 10 October 2012 - This month, the community of Kajo Keji will have their final opportunity to tune into a Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)-hosted live radio talk show. This popular and much-appreciated local programme has greatly raised awareness of peace issues in the community.

Since 2008, JRS radio talk shows have been consistently put on-air. The stars and co-hosts of the shows are the JRS Peace Building and Advocacy Coordinator, Mr. Yusto Lasuba and the County Inspector for Religious Affairs, Mr. Gonda Taban Emmanuel. Every two months, they broadcast for two hours, introducing and discussing local community peace issues.

Although JRS began peace activities in Kajo Keji in 2002, the talk shows started after the first radio station opened for service in the region. The shows were a natural and much needed extension to project activities. By putting peace messages on the radio, the entire community could benefit.

A community conversation. A final half hour of the two-hour show is reserved for community members to call in. Each programme yields about ten callers, and according to Mr. Lasuba, this interactive part is the most popular bit of the show. It demonstrates where guidance is needed and what messages need to be clarified. The on-air feedback makes the show a true community-wide conversation.

In Kajo Keji County, JRS peace-building efforts have been especially important. Many people are returnees (former refugees) who have experienced the trauma of war. Conflicts due to the actions of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and the struggle for independence from Sudan have affected the community greatly. Most people have spent many years living in exile and are still recovering.

A tool for peace building. The shows provide an important outlet to introduce peace building concepts to the community members. They also serve to help counsel others. These functions are necessary to help build a foundation for sustainable development in the county. As Mr. Lasuba put it, "Without peace, no other programme can be implemented."

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

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

In addition to peace issues, the shows also promote civic education. In 2011, JRS held a show to discuss important historical events in South Sudan. For many listeners who had lived 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 educated and informed the community 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 included messages on human rights, inter-ethnic relations and peace building Representatives from vulnerable groups, community peace facilitators, and local leaders have been invited to share their messages. Having these guests on-air means "that these people truly own the message"Mr. Taban explains.

Since the shows began, "local mobilisation and participation have increased," says 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.

As JRS looks to leave Kajo Keji at the end of the year, the radio talk shows have focused on the role of the Department of Religious Affairs, who will sustain many of the activities after JRS exits. As most peace activities, including these talk shows, have taken place in close collaboration with the government, this partnership will help ensure a positive transition for the future.

By Jamie Dillon, Assistant Project Director, JRS Kajo Keji

By the end of 2012, JRS will have closed 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
Charles Njanga
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