If you thought Kayitankore Ndjoli, a popular comedian known to his fans as Kanyombya, was some kind of guy who does not contribute to his society, you might want to think again.
Of course, many of us have seen him on TV, in some of his comedy series, or television commercials. But we have not heard of him participate in serious societal issues.
Recently, Kanyombya partnered with a local NGO Health Development Initiative (HDI), in partnership with World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership in a Tuberculosis prevention campaign in Bugesera District in the Eastern Province.
The objective of the campaign titled “Strengthening the capacity of local government to promote TB/HIV community education,” is to promote community-led TB/HIV awareness initiatives to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment of TB among people living with HIV at sector level.
Too serious a task for a person like Kanyombya...? Well, hope not. Kanyombya is one of the most popular entertainers in Rwanda.
In Bugesera, deep in Bihari cell, on the shores of L. Cyohoha bordering Burundi, you might think the comedian is not known by the residents here, who have to walk 3km to Ruhuha centre to charge their cell phones.
But when Kanyombya stepped out of the car, a waiting crowd beamed in excitement at the sight of the veteran comic, who also doubles as a radio presenter.
With his ‘family’ of Marie Louise Nyirakende and Rubyogo, alias Kibonge, Kanyombya proved that he is a jack of all trades.
Shortly after Josephine Kamarebe, who works with HDI, sensitised a huge crowd about the signs of TB, its dangers and prevention, Kanyombya took to the stage, mesmerising the crowd of mainly women and children.
He proved that a serious message delivered to society through comedy sinks deeper.
With the help of HDI, Kanyombya and his team have done that, passing on a vital message which leaves a wide grin on the faces of residents, more like killing two birds with one stone.
Rwanda, through the national TB program, formerly the Integrated National Programme to Fight Against Leprosy and Tuberculosis (PNILT), has made great efforts to improve TB detection and treatment, but a lot is yet to be done.
Cassien Havugimana, the HDI Programmes Manager, said that the NGO started initiatives to support the national anti-TB programmes and there is no better way than using drama.
“To implement our activities, we engaged a drama group led by Kanyombya, in order to attract many participants from the community for the purpose of passing messages to targeted groups,” Havugimana said.
“We want to promote collaborative work between HDI, the target beneficiaries, and different stakeholders involved, or responsible for the TB and HIV response at the community level in Bugesera District.”
Havugimana noted that when people do not know the facts about TB and believe in myths, it can hinder them from seeking early diagnosis and treatment.