Communities in Northern and North Eastern Uganda have for over two decades continued to face great challenges in peace and stability and this has greatly affected the development of the region. Media Focus on Africa (MFA) together with the Inter-church Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO) have come together to make a contribution towards the ongoing search for new means of managing conflicts in this region by using a TV drama to address the many underlying issues that fuel conflicts.
The process to produce the TV drama which will air on a Ugandan national TV soon has already begun. Dialogue sessions with member of the four major communities in the region; The Iteso, The Karamajong, The Langi and The Acholi, who are also the major beneficiaries of the project have already been conducted, and the information gathered in the dialogues is being used to develop scripts for the drama series. The aim of this is to ensure that scripts bring out a true representation of how the communities live, their issues as well as their feelings towards their neighboring communities.
After airing the series, MFA will go back to the region and conduct inter-communal dialogues that will bring together different often warring communities. In each session, participants will watch 2 episodes of the series then through a facilitator discuss the issues raised in the episodes. MFA has used this approach to promote peace, reconciliation and development in Kenya since 2009 – See more here.
People watching the drama are able to identify with certain characters in terms of how they think and behave. They are also able to see the impact of those thoughts and actions, something that they may not always see in real time when it comes to real life. The discussions in the dialogue sessions help participants think of alternative actions the character would have taken to avoid or build on the impact of those actions, depending on whether they were positive or negative.
The projects overall goal is to promote intra-cultural and inter-cultural dialogue and demonstrate alternative ways of dealing with conflicts, leading to more social cohesion, sustainable peace and respect for human rights.
The project is funded by the European Union.
Training for actors & crew members
On October 1st and 2nd 2015, MFA gathered 24 actors and crew members in Kampala for training on Conflict transformation and Edutainment. The training was meant to help them, one, appreciate the situation and issues in Northern Uganda as a result of past conflicts, and two, appreciate the importance of their role in the drama series in helping address the issues. “ The training has helped me understand my role in the series better and I want to give it my best to help others clearly get the messages we are trying to share,” Michael Wawuyo an Actor said after the training. The training was facilitated by Mburugu Gikunda of MFA. He is also the Executive Producer of the drama series.
Script writers – Facilitators Consultative Forum
The Script writers have been using reports generated by facilitators of the intra cultural dialogues in Northern Uganda to inform the soap opera storylines. In the process of writing however, it became necessary to clarify and confirm some cultural practices in order to have the story lines as accurate and relevant as possible. On Friday, 16th January 2015, MFA organized a forum that brought the writers and facilitators together for a consultative forum that made the script writing process even richer. The Forum was held at North Hope Peace Centre in Bweyale town. The Centre was begun as a temporary safe home for people running away from the War in Northern Uganda.
Script writing workshops
Two script writing workshop were organized in Kampala, one on July 2014 and the other on December 2014. They brought together professional script writers from Uganda, Kenya and The Netherlands; producers from Trivision (Production Company producing the drama) and MFA staff including the Executive Producer, Mburugu Gikunda. The workshops resulted in the selection of problems to address in the series, identification of characters and identification of story lines. Actual production will take six months to complete and is expected to end in March this year.
Evaluation workshop for facilitators
After the completion of the dialogue sessions, MFA organized another workshop with the facilitators to evaluate the outcome of the discussions. The objective of the evaluation workshop was to help generate properly contextualized reports that the script writers would find useful in developing the script and story lines for the soap opera.
Intra-cultural dialogue sessions
24 intra-cultural dialogue sessions have been held, six in each of the 4 sub-regions. At least 80 persons consisting of both men and women, the youth, elders, cultural leaders and religious leaders took part in the dialogue sessions, bringing the total number of participants to 1,920. The dialogue sessions were guided by a set of 6 pre-determined questions on culture, cultural values unique to each community, the unique cultural values that cause conflicts, stereotypes and cultural rights violations.