MS PRESIDENT

Ms President was an entertaining, educating and thought provoking Reality TV show that sough to portray to a national audience the capacity and ability of women to lead effectively. Through a series of tasks and challenges, contestants (all female) displayed their leadership capacity and ability on National TV. The series showcased intelligent and articulate women who are “Presidential” with the aim of increasing the chances of women in Kenya taking up leadership positions.

26 episodes of the Ms President TV show were produced and aired attracting average weekly viewership of 3.5 million. Episode 25 (the Presidential debate) attracted the highest viewership of 5,246,000 million and episode 26 (the finale) attracted the second highest viewership of 4,077, 000 million.

The President of Kenya H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta endorsed the programme. It also recorded commendation / endorsement from among other top government officials, Chief Administrative Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Hon Ababu Namwamba who participated in episode 22 of the show. Others were Supreme Court Judge Hon Justice Njoki Ndungu, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service and Gender Hon Racheal Shebesh, the then Principal Secretary in charge of Gender at the ministry of Public Service and Gender Hon Safina Kwekwe, various Governors including the Governors of Nairobi and Garissa and several Members of the National Assembly and Senate plus other stellar leaders in the country.

The Ms President TV show attracted wide media coverage locally and internationally. There are at least 122 articles, news stories, features and OPEDs on Ms President on newspaper, TV and online platforms of leading local and international news organizations. Most of the coverage was balanced, fair and objective and did not perpetuate gender stereotypes often characterizing media coverage of women. Some good examples can be read below;

TV show proves women’s desire to vie for Presidency- Joan Thatiah Saturday Nation 10th August 2019

Of Ms President and the demand for emancipation- Prof Austin Bukenya Saturday Nation 17th August 2019

African Women are redefining leadership- Stephen Ndegwa People Daily August 8th 2019

The Ms President TV show was nominated under the best TV documentary/TV show/TV reality category of the 9th Edition of the Kalasha International Film and TV awards 2019.

All episodes of the TV show can be watched here.

HATE SPEECH ‘INOCULATION’

In early 2012 Susan Benesch (human rights scholar, genocide prevention fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University) began working with Media Focus on Africa (MFA) to develop a media intervention that would promote peacebuilding and “inoculation” against inciting speech. For this purpose, they teamed up with the cast and crew of a Kenyan television comedy drama series, Vioja Mahakamani on KBC TV.

MFA presented the idea of using the popular series Vioja as a vehicle for these messages. The cast and producers of the show, who see the program as a way to not only entertain but also educate Kenyans, agreed to take part in the intervention. MFA and Benesch spent two days training the cast of Vioja on the subjects of hateful and offensive speech, inciting speech, and dangerous Speech.

The premise was that exposing audiences to information about incitement to violence will help inoculate them against it. In other words, by showing audiences 1) the political incentives for leaders that engage in inciting speech, 2) how speakers manipulate audiences in order to incite violence, 3) the consequences for individuals engaging in inciting speech or in violence, and 4) how love and forgiveness can serve as countermeasures to hateful and dangerous speech, the audience members will become more skeptical when they hear dangerous speech, more aware of the harm it can do, and more willing to accept personal responsibility for actions arising from inciting speech.

The purpose of this training was that they could use that information in two distinct ways:

1.To create and write the four episodes that constituted the intervention, with lessons about dangerous speech and incitement embedded in the narrative; and

2. To use their own popularity and influence to become agents of change, by spreading this knowledge beyond the context of the television show.

MFA and Benesch left it to the cast to determine how to incorporate the messages into the episodes’ storylines. This was in large part to ensure that the program felt natural to the audience and not something that had been imposed artificially and awkwardly by an outsider.

The 4 episodes are among the most watched Vioja Mahakamani episodes on Youtube. Watch Here. Another episode can be watched here.

CROSS-GENERATIONAL DIALOGUES

Before the 2012 elections in Kenya, MFA and Search For Common Grounds (SFCG) organised a series of inter-generational (youth-elderly) and inter-ethnic dialogue sessions in 16 locations across the country. The social dynamics in most African cultures work in a way that the elders decide while the youth implement. But having empowered the youth in the past years, we found it necessary to include the elders in the dialogue sessions and in the process get them to support the youth as they take more direct decision making roles in the communities., more so pertaining to the upcoming elections.

THE TEAM: SEASON 1, 2 AND 3

In response to the post-election violence in Kenya in December 2007, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) and Media Focus on Africa (MFA) developed and produced a TV and radio drama, The Team – an episodic series which asks a central question: can Kenyans find ways to put the past behind them in order to have a better future?

It aired on Citizen Television and KBC and ranked in the country’s top-ten. An average of 2,775,000 viewers watched the show every week.  The Team received an award for Best Film in the ‘Human Security’ category on the ‘We the People’ Film Festival in London.

The series presents a microcosm of Kenyan society in which members of a fictional football team, who come from different ethnic groups and social classes, are challenged to overcome their fears and biases so that they can see one another as individuals not as members of “the other.” The central metaphor for the players – and for Kenya – is: If they do not cooperate, they will not score goals, and they will lose. The series sends a strong message that the sins of the past cannot be rectified by retributive violence today.

Season 1: WATCH

Season 2: WATCH

Season 3: WATCH

Apart from the series , a large outreach program was organised in places most affected by the PEV, a DVD with viewer guide, a theme song, and  a website were created.

FIST TO FIVE FOR CHANGE

MFA produced a television talk show on Citizen TV titled ‘Fist to Five for Change’ in response to the PEV and the National Accord that led to the secession of violence in 2008.  19 TV shows of “Fist to Five for Change” were aired reaching more than 2 million people per episode. The television shows were supported by 48 Mobile Cinema screenings in locations mostly affected by the violence and combined with 48 workshops in the same locations which brought together community leaders, police, civil society as well as victims and perpetrators to engage in dialogues sessions with a similar structure/process as the talk shows. The locations were Mathare and Kibera in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru and Eldoret in the Rift Valley Province, Mumias and Kisumu in Western Kenya and Mombasa at the coast.

Participants shared their experiences during the PEV while discussing the root causes of the post election conflict in an effort to find a way forward. During the talk show and the community dialogues sessions, it was emphasized that political reforms were key to solving deep seated root causes of ethnic mistrust and violence.

Watch Fist to Five here. 

Listen to radio broadcasts here.

BUILDING BRIDGES PROJECT

Building Bridges was a peace campaign and award to encourage and map peace initiatives in Kenya. The campaign’s aim was to recognise and reward peacemakers and peace projects across Kenya as a way of strengthening the peace-building capacity of Kenyan citizens. Building Bridges aimed to stimulate peace initiatives, which contribute to preventing or overcoming conflict within or between communities e.g. villages, neighbourhoods, faith groups, families, and businesses. Conflicts could be related to land issues, ethnicity, and corruption amongst others issues.

Building Bridges aimed to motivate individuals to take action and register their peace initiative, activities or organization on the Building Bridges website.

UNSUNG PEACE HEROES

An SMS campaign aiming to recognize the people who worked on peace building in the aftermath of the elections of 2007. Together with Media Focus on Africa, Butterfly Works developed an SMS campaign, which invited to nominate people or organizations that actively worked to promote peace during the difficult times that followed the Kenyan elections of 2007. In December 2007 after the contested elections, violence sparked all over Kenya.

People were able to use SMS, phone and Internet to cast their vote and recognize the work of those who courageously worked for peace among their communities.

The program resulted in more than 500 nominations out of which the jury selected the final winners who received Kshs 10.000 in cash and had their individual stories published in the Standard newspaper by the end of February 2008.

Winners

Kamakei Ole Sangiriaki is an 28 years old Maasai who wanted to protect his Kikuyu friend from an angry group of Maasais looking for, enemies. He got beaten up and decided that this could not be accepted. He and his neighbour friends formed a group called ‘Kenyan Initiative – by Kenyans for Kenyans’ consisting of mostly Maasai together with Kikuyu, Kisii and Luo men. They went out at night to follow and find the angry mob. By talking to them they convinced them to stop the violence and killing after one week. As they went around Narok area, other groups copied their example and set up similar ‘peacekeeping groups. As a result, (Freddy claims) the violence ended much sooner in Narok area than in the rest of the country.

Alfred Sakwa Sabatia. He is 23 years and grew up as an orphan. Alfred organized peace talks, composed peace songs, verses and plays, started a peace self help group. He also took food, clothes, and utensils given by friends, churches and organizations to IDP’s in various camps in and around Eastleigh.

Ann Wangari went to Muranga district and found 15 Luo and Kikuyu children, in the age 6 to 15 years in need and took them to Kasarani to take care of them. All children are now in school. She receives support from friends, church and family.

Family Pabari; this Asian family has been active in charity work for twenty years in Kisumu (Ladies in Action) and Nairobi (Sukuma Kenya). During the post election violence they helped Kikuyus, Kisii and Luo’s with food, medicine and farming equipment.

Joel Cheruiyot Sigei is a 48-year-old Kipsigis who hid 18 people, 4 Kisii families, for 2 weeks in his compound in Boreti. He gave them maize from his stock and milk from his two dairy cows. Furthermore, he helped children in an IDP camp by bringing them 40 litres of milk every day.

Maureen Auma Obonyo went out and helped the sick and old people in Kibera. She distributed food from Uzima Foundation and was beaten up three times. She called herself Maureen MKenya. She also organized peace workshops, organized football tournaments and drama festivals.

Paul Omukaya Ayodi took immediate action after the election violence broke loose. He took orphans and people who lost their homes to a school for shelter. He helped a total of 20 Luo, Kikuyu and Luhya families and supports some of them still today in Kawangware.

Esther Wanza Muisu is 42 years old and of the Akamba tribe married to her husband of the Agikuyu tribe. During the period December 28th – January 15th she helped people with food and shelter, a total of 25 people slept overnight at her house.

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Join the #WomenConnect conversation this Friday, 1-2pm.

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