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One Story Ends and Another Begins: Burundi Celebrates Progress

Sep 06, 2016

On August 23rd, the drums could be heard in Bujumbura. The Drummers of Burundi are well-known for their loud, energetic percussions, their bright red, green, and white outfits, and for their acrobatic dance moves – not to mention the huge drums on their heads. Today, the drummers were celebrating the launch of a new radio show, one that had particular meaning to people and to Burundi’s Minister of Health Representative, Dr. Jocelyn Nsanzerugeze.

Agashi, produced by Population Media Center, has gained a pole position among great communication and public awareness tools to foster positive change for a better life,” said Nsanzerugeze. “The topics covered in this series, such as family planning, malnutrition, STDs and HIV/AIDS…just to mention a few, have enabled it to earn an unprecedented popularity among the Burundian population.”

Of course, the producers of Agashi (“Hey! Look again!”) might add that much of its popularity is due to the cliffhanger plotlines, top production quality, and great music. Agashi began airing in 2014 with storylines that spread over two years of broadcast, 208 episodes. In the drama, different social themes are role modeled and woven into storylines with positive and negative characters. Writers and producers are careful to keep the emphasis on entertainment value. Agashi finished in January of 2016 and the August 23rd launch marked the beginning of Agashi 2 – the next season of Agashi which is scheduled to run until 2018.

“I pledge Population Media Center’s determination to contribute to positive social change for a prosperous Burundi,” said Jean-Bosco Ndayishimiye, Country Representative for PMC-Burundi who oversees Population Media Center’s Burundi operations and coordination of the radio show.

Nsanzerugeze commended the innovative and professional use of mass media entertainment, saying that it “has tremendously marked the opinion of the audience and Burundian listeners from all corners of the country” and has contributed tremendously toward social awareness and healthy and prosperous lives among Burundian people. Population Media Center’s president, Bill Ryerson, also spoke of the great success in Burundi and the need for efforts like this in communities around the world.

Surveys conducted indicated that a whopping 81 percent of Burundians were loyal listeners to Agashi and health clinic surveys throughout the country resulted in 20 percent of clients citing Agashi as their primary motivation for attending the health clinic. Listeners were also 2.3 times more likely than non-listeners to say their partner or spouse was open to discussion about family planning. It’s results like these that Population Media Center and its many partners, like the Ministry of Health, hope to enhance going forward.

This second phase of Agashi has been supported by several organizations such as the UNFPA, SEGAL Family Foundation, PSI, UNICEF, Bergstrom Foundation, the Swiss Embassy, and the Government of Netherlands.

“The fame of Agashi throughout Burundi gives us a chance to reach even more people from the beginning of Agashi 2,” said Ndayishimiye. “We’re excited by the opportunity to tell more stories and help more people.”