Soaps stimulate reconciliation in Angola

november 2005 -

Ask anyone in Angola who Gustavo is and they will answer immediately. The hero in the Brazilian soap 'A Lua Me Disse' is always on screen, either in the new daily episode or one of the numerous reruns. And everyone is glued to the tube for the continuation of the intrigues.


The Camatondo cast, © IRIN

There seems to be a great need to escape the reality of everyday life in war-torn Angola. Development organisations have also noticed this. But the soaps have proven to be a perfect instrument for spreading complicated messages - like reconciliation and preventing AIDS - to an audience that is difficult to reach. Camatondo, for example, a radio soap intended for the population of rural areas, has been on the air since May. IRIN, the UN radio network that produces the soap, had distributed wind-up radios throughout the provinces earlier to make sure people would be listening.

'Camatondo' tells the story of domestic refugees in a small community in the province of Bié. They have struggled to make a new life for themselves since the end of the war in 2002, and are faced with a variety of problems. All of which is familiar to the listeners, who are not only treated to a thrilling drama, but also receive information about how to live a healthier life, what micro credit is, how to modernise their agricultural activities, and what reconciliation with former enemies means.

The Centre for Common Ground (CCG) evaluated in 2004 how the two soaps that they had been broadcasting via Radio Nacional and Luanda Antena Comerical were being received by the general public. And, even more importantly, whether 'Vozes Que Falam' and 'Coisa Da Nossa Gente' had achieved their objective: healing broken relationships. The results were astonishing: eighty percent of the population said they regularly listened to the soaps. And no less than 91 percent had learned something from them: they now had a better idea of how to prevent conflicts.