Françoise Kabariza and Igor Rugwiza
Françoise and Igor operate seamlessly within their team. Based in Bujumbura – the capital of Burundi – they work closely with their fellow peacebuilders from Interpeace’s local partner, the Conflict Alert and Prevention Centre (CENAP).
They travel throughout Burundi conducting consultations using the Interpeace methodology. Igor is an audio-visual (AV) researcher and is responsible for the ‘AV Unit’. Françoise is the audio-visual assistant. She records the dialogue meetings using video and photos in order to capture the insights of the participants in real-time. Everything comes together when Igor and Françoise review the video footage they have recorded during the dialogue sessions and produce documentary videos to share results of the research with the participants of the process.
These videos accompany the recommendations. In a country where many people have not had the chance to go to school, Françoise and Igor stress that videos ensure that the population can follow the process and understand all points of view, allowing them to have informed opinions and choices.
We talked with Françoise and Igor to find out their thoughts on their research, the role of audio-visual media in their work and building peace in their country.
You both love your jobs. Françoise, can you tell us why?
I originally worked for the local TV station. Igor had his own audio-visual company. I think we were both born with a passion for video work. How many people can combine the passion for filming and documentaries with peace and development in their own country? I am working with people from all walks of life to help make Burundi a more stable place. One day I am filming a local farmer, the next morning I am with a top level decision-maker. But the work and the subjects we touch can be very delicate – I love this challenge. Speaking for Igor, he is constantly saying: ‘We work for ourselves – it’s our country.’ What can be more satisfying than that?
Your audio-visual work is central to peacebuilding – but how?
When we meet participants for the first time they often think we are journalists and won’t share what is on their minds. So we use footage from previous sessions to kick off many of the dialogue sessions we hold. We find that it enables us to quickly build trust since they can see the results of our earlier work. Participants see other participants sharing their views openly and freely. At first they may not be able to sit face to face with another group, but by viewing the films they can quickly see that they share the same points of view as other groups. Our audio-visual work breaks down barriers and enables us to work more effectively. Bridges are formed between different ideologies and social groups. We often hear in the countryside, ‘You tell them that!’. Participants know that their opinions will be heard by the decision-makers of the country, and they quickly see the value of being filmed.
Françoise and Igor, your team motto is ‘balance.’ Can you tell us more?
Our biggest challenge is to make sure that whatever we produce is balanced. The groups we feature must be representative of society.
We also have to be careful with the words as well. Does the clip we have chosen accurately reflect what the person was thinking? Have we been faithful to the discussion? These are the types of questions that go through our minds as we review the hours of footage we hold. Right now we think it stands at 400 hours – and the archive is still growing.
How do you know your work is effective?
We know that when people take ownership of what we have done, we have already built their trust and respect. When they start saying ‘Our research says…’ instead of ‘CENAP research says’ we know they have achieved ownership of the contents and the recommendations. We feel at this point, we have achieved local ownership. The population needs to build peace – it is our job to facilitate the process.