Kids take over the radio for World Children’s Day!

Divin, Rebecca, Tony and Portia hosted programmes on Rwanda’s popular 102.3 KISS FM radio station, using the platform to talk about issues that matter most to them.

By Veronica Houser
Four children took over Rwanda's KISS FM radio station to celebrate World Children's Day with UNICEF.
21 November 2020

KIGALI, RWANDA – As the sun crept over the horizon and Kigali began to stir, Rebecca and Divin were already wide awake and adjusting their headphones inside the studio.

Celebrating World Children’s Day, when kids around the world take the stage to speak out for their rights, 15-year-old Rebecca and 16-year-old Divin were preparing to host the popular “Breakfast” programme on Kigali’s 102.3 KISS FM, one of the most popular radio stations in the city. With millions of listeners every day, it was the perfect platform for the two teenagers to speak out on topics they care about: education, gender equality, and online safety.

At 6:00 a.m. sharp, the show’s regular host and renowned comedian Arthur Nkusi quiets the music and grabs the microphone.

“Good morning, Kigali! It’s time to WAKE UP!”

His co-host, Sandrine Isheja, contrasts Arthur’s energy with a softer introduction. “It is a very special day for us,” she says. “You won’t be hearing much of Arthur and me today. We are handing over our platform to give space for some new hosts.”  

Rebecca and Divin sit forward in their chairs and prepare to take over.

For World Children's Day, children join UNICEF and celebrate with a kids takeover of Rwanda's popular radio station KISS FM.
Rebecca, 15, takes over KISS FM's Breakfast programme on World Children's Day, standing in for regular host Sandrine Isheja.

“We are here to show other kids that everything is possible."

Divin, 16

“You can achieve anything if you are passionate about it,” Rebecca adds.

For the next four hours, Rebecca and Divin hosted KISS FM’s breakfast programme, interjecting between the morning’s playlist to discuss issues like online safety, gender equality, and how COVID-19 has affected education.

“I was nervous at first,” Rebecca recalled, “because I knew so many people would be listening. But I was excited for the same reason. It was our chance to use this platform and reach so many people.”

As the morning rolled on, Divin and Rebecca became so comfortable that listeners might have forgotten that they were not the regular hosts.

Children in the KISS FM studio during the World Children's Day kids takeover with UNICEF
Sporting their UNICEF t-shirts for World Children's Day, Rebecca and Divin took over Arthur and Sandrine's popular morning radio show on KISS FM.

Expert interviews

As part of the takeover programme, Rebecca and Divin welcomed Lambert Hategekimana to the studio, Child Protection Specialist with Rwanda’s National Child Development Agency.

“How will the government and partners help protect children online so we can be safe while still having fun?” they asked.

Rebecca and Divin also interviewed UNICEF Representative Julianna Lindsey, grilling her on what UNICEF was doing to address issues of gender and education inequality, especially in rural areas.

“The interview with Julianna was the best part of the day,” says Rebecca. “I saw her as such a positive female role model, so I felt comfortable and motivated to discuss issues with her that I care about." 

Rebecca and Divin interview Lambert Hategekimana, Child Protection Specialist with the National Child Development Agency, for World Children's Day.
Rebecca and Divin interview Lambert Hategekimana, Child Protection Specialist with the National Child Development Agency, for World Children's Day.

Portia and Tony take over the mid-morning show

After four hours hosting, Rebecca and Divin were exhausted but fulfilled. They could hardly wait to return to school and share their experiences with their classmates and teachers.

But the day was not yet over. Nine-year-old Portia and 15-year-old Tony stepped in to take over KISS FM’s mid-morning show.

Portia needed no coaching and was not daunted, although it was her first time on the radio. “I am here with my friend Tony,” she began, “But I want everyone listening to know that this is really my programme.”

Tony and Portia used their platform to further discuss online safety, share health and nutrition tips, and give advice to their fellow children.

“I was proud to represent children in Rwanda,” Portia recalled. “I want all children to dream big and know that anything is possible. We are the voice and leaders of tomorrow.”

Portia takes over the mid-morning programme at KISS FM for UNICEF's Kids Takeover on World Children's Day
Tony takes over the mid-morning programme at KISS FM for UNICEF's Kids Takeover on World Children's Day

Kids Takeovers

Every child has the right to be heard, to participate, and to play an active role in their society. More than just a media moment, UNICEF’s Kids Takeovers are the ideal expression of how World Children’s Day is a day of action for children, by children.

“It is so important for us to have platforms to express ourselves,” says Divin. “I’m telling you, there are very smart kids out there with innovative and mind-blowing ideas, but they cannot lead to any tangible solution if we don’t have a way to share these ideas.”

“Children must have a say in decision making,” Rebecca agrees. “Sometimes there are problems we are facing, but adults do not always accept inputs from young people on these issues.”  

“Kids takeovers create awareness for decision makers of what children are going through,” adds Portia.

“We have lots of potential and ability,” Divin continues, “but we need more opportunities to share them. To my fellow children, I want to say: Use every opportunity put in front of you.”

“To UNICEF and governments, please listen to young voices,” says Rebecca. “We may be children, but we want to do our part in securing our own future as well as for generations to come.”