The FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa will always be a memorable event for many children of Rubavu district formerly known as Gisenyi in the North West of Rwanda. They watched three quarters of the matches live on a giant inflatable screen courtesy of UNICEF NY and One UN Rwanda.
The majority of children (70%) had no access to any other means of watching the World Cup matches. But there is a good number of others who simply enjoyed the atmosphere of watching the matches and the other video messages that were being screened.
The local community host was very well suited for the challenge of showing a game in the rural area. They had facilities, motivation and passion to entertain the audience between and before the matches. The audience enjoyed dances and contemporary music performances and this added to the entertainment and educational value of the whole occasion. This could have been even better if there was a way of involving national music and comedy stars to perform and pass on the messages live.
Football remains the most popular game here and anything to do with it is sure to draw huge crowds especially of the young. And they are very aware of football news that all international, regional and national tournaments are followed closely. For example the European tournaments that are currently beginning are already generating much excitement with the youth.
Videos are always popular with the youth and all messages will be readily consumed if well packaged and in Kinyarwanda and especially if they have a funny angle to them. People, the youth in Rwanda are so starved of laughter that they cling to anything remotely funny in a video. And for that matter, live stand-up comedy can definitely be used for messaging.
A lot can be done in terms of getting the people’s attention so long as it is well organized and information based. There is always a huge number of curious onlookers who are bored, especially in late afternoons when they are free and have finished work on their land. The total absence of any entertainment in the rural areas guarantees a good audience of both young and old in the rural areas especially if it is based around an inflatable screen and a loudspeaker. People are known to immensely enjoy Western made movies so long as they are dubbed over in Kinyarwanda. The young men who do the dubbing hardly understand English themselves. So they fabricate stories around these movies just to entertain the masses. This is a booming business. They are called “the explained’ movies.
The next World Cup feels distant to most Rwandan kids. But this is only because they know they have enough football in between. There is the CAN, UEFA, the British, Spanish, Italian and other Italian leagues. However all these are only accessible to those young people leaving in townships where there is electricity and satellite tv. On the whole about 1% of the Rwandan population have access to a television set and about 10% have access to electricity.
So a huge number of young people can still benefit from entertainment and education if they are reached.