A Role Model for Police Everywhere

When a gang of thieves broke into her store in the middle of the night and robbed her, Ruth reported the crime to the police. The officer filed the case and promised to launch an investigation — under the condition that he be paid a hefty bribe. It wasn’t until Search’s very own Captain Elombe intervened that Ruth got the help she needed, the thieves were arrested, and the corrupt officer suspended.

Every week, Captain Elombe — whose name means “bravery” — serves justice and helps citizens in need… from tens of thousands of TV screens.

He’s the protagonist of Ndakisa, our new TV drama series set in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The show is our latest in a series of efforts to reform security forces in the country.

When we started this work in 2007, a deadly conflict was raging in Eastern DRC. The ongoing war and the trauma of past conflicts meant that trust between the citizens and the military was at an all-time low. Rape, murder, and looting perpetrated by police and army officers were the order of the day. At the same time, the officers themselves feared attacks from the population and struggled to feed their families.

Our solution was to enroll Congolese soldiers as human rights protectors, sparking system-wide trainings on the legal rights of civilians and reporting abuse. We also used radio and comic books to raise awareness of human rights violations, accessing even rural, isolated communities.

Over the last 10 years, these activities have reached more than 150,000 soldiers and millions of civilians. Now, with Ndakisa, we plan to reach millions more.

During the production phase, we brought on board the Police Reform Service to help us write the plot, but the collaboration didn’t end there. Our unique relationship with the police, built over a decade of joint peacebuilding work, gained us access to uniforms, vehicles, gear, and the participation of 12 real-life officers in some of the action scenes.

The cast includes well-known faces of the Congolese film industry, as well as emerging actors. Captain Elombe is played by rising star Moyindo Mpongo. Since Ndakisa made its debut in June on 13 different broadcasting stations, his character is quickly turning into a pop icon. Impacting pop culture is one lasting way we move the needle of peace and human rights. It’s partly how we prevented genocide in Burundi and inspired a generation of Macedonians to turn its back on ethnic prejudice. In the DRC, the show’s name itself carries the message: “ndakisa” means “role model,” and that’s what the Captain is becoming for thousands of officers across the country.

Ndakisa gives the audience a chance to get involved, too. At the end of each episode, we promote a phone number people can call to give feedback and submit questions for police officers. Every month, we convene popular radio roundtables in which the police officers answer these questions and produce reports highlighting how the show is changing perceptions. Our local team has also instituted the Ndakisa Awards, a community activity in which civil society groups celebrate police officers who exhibit bravery and integrity in their mandate to protect citizens.

As the DRC prepares for elections and the risk of political tensions grows, it’s vital that citizens and officers can trust each other and work together to respond to emergencies. Ndakisa is the culmination of 10 years of groundbreaking peacebuilding efforts to make this possible. Watch the trailer of the show, read about the ongoing security sector reform project on our website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for enabling these victories,

Shamil Idriss
President and CEO