As a response to the effects of 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?
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 3 continues to deal with alternatives to dealing with conflict but also does address itself to matters of leadership. One of the characters, Ben, is elected a councillor in a by-election and is faced with the unenviable task of mobilising his constituents against tribalism and for development. Members of the football team assist in community work through this season and come in handy to support the new councillor, himself a football player and former of the tea.
This season begins with Imani FC players breaking camp and going home for a few weeks during which time we learn more about their lives and families outside the team. There is a deeper understanding of the troubled past that these players have had to deal with and overcome in order to be part of Imani FC. When the players resume camp, there are changes in the team. This leads to new conflicts that must be overcome for the team to perform well in the matches and come out tops at the end. Community reconciliation, forgiveness & rebuilding lives are some of the themes of the second season.
The Team season 1 dramatizes how the young members of a newly formed soccer/football* club struggle with overcoming tribal, ethnic, and socio-economic differences. Each episode highlights real issues that Kenyans must regularly confront, like poverty, corruption, rape, mob justice, and drug use. The team dramatizes cooperative ways of handling ethnic and socio economic divisions, reflecting the desire of Kenyans to live together in harmony.
To reach the audiences in the rural areas, The Team Season 1 and 2 were translated in three local languages (Kikuyu, Dholuo, Kalenjin) and in Swahili. The programmes aired on Radio Jambo, Radio Lake Victoria, Kass Fm, Coro FM, Baraka FM
In regions where peace is still fragile or with limited access to mass media, we roll-out a huge outreach programme for The Team. IN 8 locations most affected by the post election violence of 2008 (Nairobi (Kibera, Mathare), Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kakamega, Mombasa and Kisumu.) screenings of the programmes were organised. Each screening session brings together youth of different ethnic background and is followed by a discussion workshop facilitated by trained CSO/CBO representatives.
Familiarise the scriptwiriters with the specific skills to develop drama scripts that try to diffuse conflict and present alternative ways of dealing with conflict and violence with the ultimate goal of social change. Each scriptwriting workshop is bringing together conflict transformation experts, script editors and communication for development experts.
Representatives of CSO/CBO organsiations who are co-organising the screenings of The Team television programmes at the local level are also facilitating the dialogue sessions with the youth. They are trained in alternative ways of dealing with conflict and violence as well as debating techniques, to enable them to lead constructive debates about the programmes with the youth.