As Rwanda nears the 29 commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, artistes under the IIPM Production, a German production house, together with their local co-production house ‘Isaano Group’ have rolled out a plan to stage a theater play, based on the story of RTLM hate speech.
During a press conference, April 03, at the Kigali Convention Centre, organisers said that their performances aim to expose the danger of hate speech, educate young and old people on the danger of hate speech while promoting peace and unity, among societies and nations.
Preparations for the theatre play have also received support from the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), Crystal Connect, among other partners.
One of the famous local actors Diogéne Ntarindwa, (popularly known ATOME), revealed that he is scheduled to perform the character of the notorious Kantano Habimana, remembered for hosting radio programs on Radio Relevision Libre des Milles Collines(RTLM) which promoted hate speech; inciting Hutu against the Tutsi.
‘I don’t feel proud in playing his character, but standing on my profession and experience, I feel happy in exposing what a bad personality he was, teaching people, especially the young ones to desist from any kind of hatred among themselves,” he said.
In Huye district, the play is staged on April 4th and 5th at the University of Rwanda (UR) campus. Gates shall be open from 2pm, while the show starts from 5pm.
Kigali shows are scheduled for April 8th to 10th 2023, at the Kigali Convention Centre (Gates open from 5pm and show starts from 7pm). Entrance is free in all the venues and organisers expect about 600 spectators per performance, which is rare in other theatre performances.
Another character in the ‘Hate Radio,’ theatre play is Valerie Bemeriki, known to have been one of the main RTLM presenters and entertainers, who also played a significant role in promoting the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Her role shall be played by Pilipili Bwanga, a Congolese national, living in Belgium who believes her country’s (the DRC) history has a lot in common with that of Rwanda, and her presence in this project being essential, based on the current relationship between the two countries.
“Taking up the Character of Bemeriki, as a woman who incited violence against fellow women, including inciting rapes, is shocking. I was not looking for fame, but rather educating about the brutality of a woman, who was not supposed to do so. The fact that it is not a fictious story, calls for the matter to be taken seriously,” Bwanga said.
According to Jens Diethrich, one of the team members on production, this is their second time in Rwanda, the first time was in 2011. The idea for the project started in 2009, when they started collaborating with Rwandan artists and officials.
The team also met with survivors, perpetrators like Valerie Bemeriki in prison (2010), to understand better how the angle of propaganda worked during genocide.
He added that they discovered similarities with the propaganda that was used in Germany, like the use of entertainment and hate speech. After Kigali, the same team will go to London, for other planned performances.
They have been performing in more than 20 countries, including Japan, South Africa, Colombia, Canada, where they have also held discussions on preventing hate speech, among other ideas on promoting peace.
Other artists expected in this performance include Eric Ngangare with the role of a radio DJ in entertaining hate speech, Sebastien Foucault, acting as French Journalist ‘Georges Ruggiu’, among others.