Urunana (‘Hand in Hand’) is Rwanda’s first radio soap opera. The production emerged during the late 1990s from a three-way transnational production partnership between: The Great Lakes section of the BBC World Service; the Well Woman Media Project of the London-based NGO, Health Unlimited; and a group of dramatists and broadcasters working in Rwanda. Broadcast by the BBC World Service, the production was initially produced and edited by Health Unlimite. It is now produced by the Urunana Development Communication (see www.urunanadc.org/), which estimated that the program is regularly listened to by almost 70 per cent of Rwandans.2 Urunana is explicitly adapted for the Rwandan context from the format of a long-running BBC Radio 4 soap opera, The Archers, which dramatises the ups and downs of rural characters in England (see Bielby and Harrington, 2002; Jordan, 2007: 7; Soares, 2008). Since 2008, when Urunana won a prestigious media development award for encouraging audiences to discuss safe sex, family planning, and other issues that are generally considered taboo in Rwanda, the program has started to be of interest to researchers in gender, health and media outside the field of ‘edutainment’.3 Our interest in this article is in exploring how the soap opera is produced, but first of all how it has helped to promote women’s sexual health and mend relationships in post-genocide Rwanda.

ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Hintjens, H., & Bayisenge, F. (2011). Urunana Audiences at Home and Away: Together 'Hand in Hand'?. In ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/32936