It’s approaching 7:30 p.m and its time for the Kinyarwanda news on Rwanda Television.
Like they are rushing to catch up with an early bus, several residents of Kamembe town in Rusizi district, Western province queue at Mzee Shaban’s place, an old man who is on routine. He is praised for possessing the biggest television screen and a Dstv dish in his suburb, usually known as cite (town).
As the evening news rolls, uninvited guests of all ages are as silent as the graveyard. No one whispers. They carefully watch the news like a class listening attentively to the teacher’s lesson.
Crowds in search of a television programme are a routine at Mzee Shaban’s place, most especially in the evenings, when he gets several visitors who only come to watch soccer, soap operas and the news.
Mzee Shaban said, “many of my neighbours don’t own a TV yet they are enthusiastic when it comes to watching anything. Even those who own TVs can only access Rwanda Television without additional connections like Dstv or Star Africa Media.”
The lack of Television sets has never been an issue for rural dwellers for they could forego a meal to go hunt for a TV program. In fact when it comes to local plays like ‘Kanyombya, ay’urukundo’ or local drama on Rwanda television, one should rely on the remote dweller’s judgment.
The craze for watching TV has been dubbed as a key for helping people develop. The first thing that fills little boys and girls minds as they grow up is to ‘work hard and buy a television set!’
“I recently bought my Sony TV after I had saved for more than four years,” said 19-year- old Damascene Muhire.
Muhire is one of the few young men who hate frequenting people’s homes, a reason that motivated him to save all he could, after selling sweets so that he could watch programmes on his own TV.
While many expect village dwellers to be backward, they probably are more updated than journalists who follow them. They are very brilliant when it comes to seeking information after watching the news.
Gone are the days when people in villages knew of Kigali as the capital city of Bujumbura. Through thick and thin, the youth in Rwanda’s villages can proudly worship 50 cent, Tylor Swift and can even dance to our own Medi’s tunes, thanks to TVs.
Not even inaccessible places with a low signal can stop people from trying so hard.
“I sent for an antenna from Kigali recently. I had never been to Kigali neither had I ever heard of an antenna but when a friend suggested buying one, I thought such a thing would be helpful for my television,” said Rose Mukandamaje.
The rate at which remote dwellers are catching up visual entertainment has indeed threatened the reading and listening culture. As time goes by, people are even willing to spend their hard earned money betting for on a soccer game.
The cheapest fee paid in order to watch a game is Rwf300. Such halls are always filled by people who feed from doing daily errands such as fetching—they earn about Rwf 20 per jerrycan fetched.
Meanwhile, young adolescent girls are catching up well with the culture of watching! Many prefer Mari Mari an Indian soap opera and love listening to Radio Rusizi.
As visual entertainment catches up like a wild fire, parents are scared of losing their children to pornography since the young generation’s passion rotates around TV stars, programmes and soap operas.
As the people of Kamembe town watch on, Mzee Shaban has no option but to join the fun, until they can afford to watch from their personal screens.