Thursday, October 8, 2009

“Tikuferanji” takes new turn ('The Daily Times' - article)

Again, one of the main newspapers in Malawi, chooses to feature an article about ADRA Malawi. This specific article presents an external view about the impact that our Communication for Social Change program, Tikuferanji, is having in the Malawian society and presents several unexpected outcomes that show of the importance of the strategy. In special I would like to underline the great honor that was for ADRA Malawi to have the President of the Republic, commenting on one of the episodes, and for the interesting analyses that the journalist, McDonald Chapalata, makes of the public intervention of the President.

Bellow the tanscript made by Aninde Migogo, from ADRA Malawi, of the “The Daily Times” newspaper article.

Title: “Tikuferanji” takes new turn

Source: The Daily Times (October 7, 2009)

By: McDonald Chapalapata – Journalist of “The Daily Times”

It all started with one straight forward question: Tikuferanji? Which literary translated meant why are we dying? The reason of such deaths was HIV/AIDS, according to the project.

The drama series produced by the Adventist Development Relief Agency(ADRA) has been on the radio for nearly 13 years and on television for approximately 8 years spreading the message on HIV/AIDS issues.

As one of the most popular television shows in the country, Tikuferanji received the radio play of the Year Award at the 2008 MBC Entertainers of Year Awards, and it has been voted the best advocacy programme in Malawi on radio and television. It also received the Best Achiever Award in 2007.

But the focus of the drama series has slowly been widening to encompass not only HIV/AIDS issues but also addressing issues on human rights, gender, democracy and other social topics.

Even the head of state has commented on some of the issues being raised by the drama series.

“ I saw a play a few weeks ago where one who had just voted and dipped his two fingers with ink was saying he was going to demand money for voting for President and MP. If that person came to me I could have blasted him” President Bingu Muntharika told a campaign rally before by- elections in Ndirande Central constituency in July this year.

The play he had seen was Tikuferanji on Television Malawi (TVM) where Manganya (played by Michael Usi) was demanding money for voting for a President and a member of Parliament.

This issue attracted a huge debate on the roles of the MPs where buying of coffins during funerals was not one of them.

During the campaign period, another social issue the programme exposed was the problem of power blackouts in the country.

Manganya was President of Nginana party and made electricity his campaign tool telling prospective voters how lack of consistent power supply retards development.

Recently, the consumer Association Of Malawi (CAMA) took electricity Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) to task over its slogan of “Power all day everyday”

Escom has since changed the slogan to a more realistic one of “Towards Power all day everyday”

In July this year Manganya was invited by the Malawi Defence force for a 20-kilometre march to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS in the army.

Usi, who is deputy Country Director for ADRA said in an interview this week that they have decided to broaden the focus of the series because they are sensitive to issues affecting the citizenry.

“We are in touch with the people on the ground, the citizenry and we would want to address issues that affect them. We have to move with time,” Usi said.

He said for example, the drama series which is going to be aired tomorrow night on TVM will centre on a football match between Malawi and Ivory Cost who are playing on Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium.

“Football is one of the things that are dear or close to the hearts of the people and we will be addressing that issue but at the same time we will not be forgetting the theme of this programme, Tikuferanji?or why are we dying?” he said.

But how did he feel when the President commented on his play?

“The Presidents comments motivated us. It really pays when you do research and present issues which even the head of state comments on,” Usi said.

He said there was an outcry from both the MPs and the constituents on the roles of MPs which incuded buying of coffins and helping people with food.

“We should look at both sides of this issue. People pester MPs a lot sometimes on simple things like food, camping at an MPs house just to get food and that is why maybe they desert the village and live in town,” Usi said.

He also said other MPs just “leave” their constituents and live in town without any reason.

“We were looking at an opportune time to deliver the message and I am glad that when we did, it was acted upon by the President.” Usi said.

He says before producing the series on different issues, he consults widely including lawyers.

Tikuferanji is a serious programme presented in a lighter manner,” summed up Usi.

He says ADRA conducts community dialogue sessions where they get to know issues affecting people.

Usi also says their communications team search for information from the internet, newspaper, radios and many other forms of media.

He says because of the successes of the communication for development innovations, ADRA Malawi’s projects are a benchmark for other countries like Burundi, Zimbabwe and even Sweden.

“ Denmark sent me to Burundi to set up a radio programme on the healing process of the war on children. The programme is up and running and many are learning and appreciating the importance of conflict resolution,” Usi says.

Apart from the drama series ADRA is involved in other community based programmes aiming at improving the welfare of the people.

In the civil society and empowerment programme, ADRA Malawi holds community participation and management as a priority and endeavors to build capacity of communities in leadership, governance and democratic processes to promote inclusion.

ADRA is also involved in food security and resilience programme where the main emphasis is increasing food availability, strengthening local economies and improving nutrition.

Usi pays tribute to their donors, the Danish government for supporting them “although it severed its ties with the Malawi government”.

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