Crossroads: Women's Rights Through Drama

Article Index

When a market trader becomes frustrated with the local police inspector who is more interested in lining his pockets than finding her missing daughter, a magic drink causes the two to switch bodies-with hilarious results and eye-opening perspectives.Originally recorded in English and Swahili for Kenyan audiences, Crossroads was reproduced into French (Les Pistes Croisées, Senegal), Portuguese (Caminhos Cruzados, Mozambique), and isiZulu (Zaphamban' izindlela, SA).

CMFD produced Crossroads on behalf of FAHAMU (Networks for Social Justice) and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (Africa. The aim of the drama is to promote awareness of the protocol and the issues it addresses in away that makes these issues real to people who may not even know that such a mechanism exists. Through drama and engaging storylines, the series raise s awareness about issues such as the right to peace, religion, and freedom from violence; marriage and divorce; political participation; education; and reproductive health and HIV.
Crossroads a Africa wide serial radio drama...
First produced in English and Swahili for Kenyan audiences, Crossroads has since been translated and reproduced into French (as Les Pistes Croisées recorded in Senegal) and Portuguese (as Caminhos Cruzados recorded in Mozambique). 250 English, 100 Swahili, 100 French, and 100 Portuguese CDS were distributed to radios stations and organisations. CMFD (Community Media for Development) Productions produced Crossroads on behalf of FAHAMU (Networks for Social Justice) and the A frican Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) as part of the SOWAR campaign. In collaboration with People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), supported by Oxfam GB, a South Afric an adaptation and translation is currently  in progress.
CMFD travelled to Nairobi, Kenya in March 2008 to record the English version of Crossroads and lay down the basics for the th  eme song; we returned in Sepember to record the Swahili version, Njia Pacha. Caminhos Crusados, the Portuguese version, was recorded in Maputo, Mozambique  in January 2009, and the French, Les Pistes Croisées, was recorded in Dakar, Senegal in February 2009. As usual, for each session we brought our mobile recording equipment and partnered with a local studio.

The Story

The story is about what happens when a market women, frustrated by an old, corrupt police chief in the search for her missing daughter, makes a wish she never expects to come true. As a result of a magical potion, the two switch bodies. Now in the police chief's body the search for the girls goes a little smoother, and event the police chief learns of few lessons about what it's like to be a woman in Africa.

Click here to read more about the story...

Raising awarness about the Proto  colEach episode of Crossroads is thematically related to an Article in the Protocol, specifically the right to peace, the right to freedom from violence, the right to marriage and divorce, to political participation, to education and reproductive and sexual health

Click here for more information about the Protocol and Crossroads themes...

Behind the scenes

The series was recorded in Kenya, Senegal, Mozambique, and most recently South Africa, involving local actors and musicians in each location. A lively original theme song accompanies each episode, and both complements the drama and stands alone as a powerful call to action for people to work together for women's rights. livel y original theme song accompanies each episode, and both complements the drama and stands alone as a powerful call to action for people to work together for women's rights

Click here to read more about behind the scenes...

Media support

The drama also includes a guide for radio presenters and community organisations, giving them ideas on how to take the drama further in their programming. The easy to follow guide gives presenters suggestions for questions to ask listeners or studio guests, as well as stories they can do that relate to the themes in each episode. It also contains key contacts and informatio n about women's rights, and a simplified breakdown of key articles in the Protocol that relate to the themes in the drama. The English and Swahili productions launched in September 30, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. The launch was preceded by a media workshop on September 29, organised by the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), that provided journalists with information and skills for reporting on the AU Protocol and women's rights issues.

Scriptwriting workshop participants

The AU Protocol is a very important document. However, most people outside of the NGO sector do not know about it. It needs to be popularised so that people know that it exists and how it affects them. Currently, a campaign for its ratification and domestication is being spearheaded by a coalition of more than twenty organisations known as Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR). Coalition, in which FEMNET and FAHAMU are members. So far, the Protocol has been ratified in about 23 African Countries.

The first planning meeting for the project was co-hosted in Nairobi, Kenya by FAHAMU and FEMNET with the main aim of developing a three year work plan and identifying collaborating partners for the project in pilot regions and countries.The Project seeks to use communication and advocacy as key strategies in promoting human rights and social justice in Africa.

Main Themes in Crossroads

In order to keep the drama focused we chose six key themes to build the storyline around. These themes were chosen in consultation with FEMNET and FAHAMU and reflect some of the central issues facing Kenyan women, especially in peri-urban and rural areas.

Right to peace – Everyone has the right to live in peace. Though often left out of such processes, women also have the right to be present in decision making to prevent conflict, and in peace building initiatives. Women should be seen as agents of change.

Freedom from violence - Violence against women continues to be a pervasive problem on the continent. Violence affects women’s ability to achieve equality, and threatens their freedom, safety, health and autonomy. The drama should encourage governments to enact legislation to protect women, service providers to offer supportive care for victims, communities to take up the issue, and inform individuals where to get help. Violence against women is wrong, and hurts society as a whole.

Marriage and divorce-The Protocol provides that women should have equal rights in marriage, and have equally ability to divorce. Cases of forced and early marriage persist in Africa. The drama should encourage people to keep their children in school, out of wedlock, and demonstrate a culture of mutual respect in marriage. Healthy relationships contribute to everyone’s health and security.

Political participation- Everyone has right to be involved and participate in political issues. Such participation is necessary for a healthy society, and to ensure that women’s issues are represented. The drama should encourage women to participate in decision making.

Right to education- Everyone has the right to education regardless of gender, race, age, or ability. Of particular concern is ensuring girl children stay in school. The drama should encourage parents to keep girls in school for the good of the family and the country.

Reproduction health and HIV- Reproductive health is central to a women’s well-being. People living with HIV have rights, prevention is better than a cure – but for many women prevention is not in their hands. The drama should encourage women to seek out information, it is their right. Service providers must be pro-active in helping to encourage women to access reproductive health information and services.

Crossroads Storyline

(Note the below refers to names and places for the Kenya drama. For other counries, names have been changed)

Mama Bahati’Mama Bahati and Rahas daughter Raha has been missing for three days. Mama Bahati is worried and suspects foul play on the part of her inlaws. They wanted Raha to be inherited by her late husband’s brother, and both Raha and Mama Bahati were against it. She has been asking around to friends and relatives, but no one knows anything. When she tries to report the matter to Inspector Tumbo, he brushes her off saying, ‘do you want Raha to be lonely without a man?’

On his way out of the station to hassle changa’a brewer Mama Sweety, Inspector Tumbo finds that a new Deputy has been posted to his station. He is unimpressed by Deputy Sifa’s neat appearance and military manner, and talks her down, telling her she is unable to work as a police officer because she is a woman. He finally assigns her simple clerical tasks and tells her that her job is to make coffee.

At the changa’a den, Mama Sweety begs Tumbo not to arrest her. He agrees to a bribe, which was all he was really after anyway, and she gives him some money and a bottle of her ‘special brew.’ After he leaves, Sweety’s cousin Tumaini stops by to ask for Sweety’s advice about Mama Bahati. She is afraid Mama Bahati’s husband will beat her to death. Sweety gives her a bottle of her ‘special brew’ as well and tells Tumaini that when Mama Bahati drinks it, she’ll have the power to solve her problems.

Tumaini gives Mama Bahati the drink and she falls over in a dead faint. Inspector Tumbo wakes the following morning to find he is now in Mama Bahati’s body. He cannot believe it’s real and runs to the station. At the station, Tim Taabu is reporting to Sifa that Mama Bahati is harassing him and his family. Mama Bahati (with Tumbo’s mind) runs into the station and heads straight for the chief’s office. When she tries to explain who she really is, Sifa threatens to have her taken to a mental hospital. Disheartened and confused, she leaves.

Inspector Tumbo (with Mama Bahati’s mind) comes in to the station. He isn’t sure what to do as a police officer, but knows he wants to find Raha. He tells Sifa to start looking into the case immediately. Sifa is surprised at his behaviour, but happy to be doing her job again.

At the market, Tumbo goes to Tumaini to tell her what’s happened. They are both shocked and excited. Before Tumbo can really begin the investigations in earnest, he is distracted by Tausi, who is pregnant by Tumbo and claims he was going to force her to get a backstreet abortion. Tumbo pleads with her to hold off and consider her options before doing something dangerous. Confused, she agrees for now.

Sifa goes to investigate the deserted Taabu compound to see if anything is amiss. She is caught by Tim, who threatens her softly about trespassing. Just before she leaves, she spots a piece of torn kanga and takes it with her as evidence. The next day the Taabu clan pays a visit to Tumbo, demanding to know why he is investigating. Mzee Taabu reveals that they paid Tumbo KSH10 000 to keep the case under wraps. They offer him more, and the enraged Tumbo orders them out of his office.

Meanwhile, Mama Bahati has been struggling to keep up with her daily duties. She does not know how to set herself up at the market, and the other market women tease her mercilessly. She is also being beaten regularly by Baba Bahati. One day, he comes home drunk and demands that she have sex with him. When she refuses, he overpowers and rapes her.

The Casts

English and Swahili recordings

CMFD recorded iOriginal Crossroads castn the spacious and comfortable Wilnag Studio. Our core cast members for the English and Swahili versions came from a local theatre group, The 5 Centuries or 5C's for short. Since their group is smaller than the cast of characters inCrossroads, CMFD contracted them to enlist, audition and cast additional actors. Several of the cast members are puppeteers from the Community Health and Action Puppeteers (CHAPS). Both groups use entertainment-education techniques to raise awareness about human rights.

Portuguese recording

For the recording in Maputo, CMFD worked with the Hopangalatana Cultural Group, a well-known local theatrical troupe with whom we have a long-standing relationship. Hopangalatana uses entertainment-education to raise awareness about various issues in Mozambique. The group has also voiced our other Portuguese-language radio dramas, Troco and Vila Pisa Bem. The drama was recorded at Uamba Studio.

French recording

Organisation for the French recording was assisted by FAHAMU Dakar. Cast members came from FEST'ART, a well-known group of voice and theatre actors based in Dakar. Their work focuses on social development issues, and uses participatory techniques to educate around issues such as health and rights. Recording took place at the studio of local NGO Réseau Africain de l'Education pour la Santé.
The Music

English/ Swahili theme song
While in Nairobi, we took the last few days at the studio to compose and record the basic tracks for the theme song, as well as write and record the lyrics. We had the opportunity to work with three versatile and talented artists, Erick Désiré Buchumi on bass and guitar, James Jose on drums and Maia Von Lekow on vocals. Crossraods cast member Lydiah Dola was also involved in developing the lyrics. Additional instruments were added in our Johannesburg studio.

Portuguese theme songEnglish/ Swahili theme musician
The theme and lyrics for Caminhos Crusados were composed and recorded in Maptuo during a live session by the Mozambican group Eyuphuro, well-known both within Mozambique and international World Music circles. Eyuphuro also recorded the theme song for Vila Pisa Bem. Trumpet tracks were added to both themes in CMFDs Johannesburg studio.

French Theme
The basic tracks and lyrics for Les Pistes Croisées' theme song were composed and recorded in Dakar. Music was composed by Baye Mahamta Diop and CMFD director Daniel Walter, and involved a number of talented local musicians. Trumpet tracks were added to the theme in our Johannesburg studio.

The Scriptwriters

Simiyu Barasa is a scriptwriter, director and freelance journalist based in Nairobi. He currently writes for the hit KBC series "Makutano Junction". He is an avid blogger, and has also stepped out from behind the scripts and onto the stage in performances with the Egerton University Center For Performing Arts, (Nakuru), Phoenix Players (Nairobi), Kizingo Arts (Mombasa) and Little Theatre Club (Mombasa).

Lorraine Anyango is a radio journalist and scriptwriter working with the Nation Media Group in Nakuru. She writes radio plays for the station, and has also works in the theatre, writing, directing and acting with the Faith Evangelistic Ministry in Nakuru.

The African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in AfricaWhat is the AU Protocol?

The AU Protocol is a continenetal legal framework for the protection of women's rights in Africa. The Protocol was adopted in Maputo in July 2003 and entered into force on 25th November 2005. As of January 2008, the Protocol has been ratified in 23 African countries. However, ratification is not enough. Countries need to domesticate its provisions by incorporating them into their own laws and creating legal framewors from which laws an then be enforced to protect women.

What does the Protocol say?

The Protocol deals with women's rights in a fairly comprehensive way. It covers everything from widow and property inheritance to economic and political participation in decision-making, to reproductive and sexual health and freedom from violence in both the public and private spheres. It even includes a section on implementing and monitoring the provisions made in the document.

A simplified breakdown of the Articles Crossroads deals with is outlined below. You can find out more information about the Protocol the African Union website, or click here to view the full doucment in PDF.

ARTICLE 4: The Rights to Life, Integrity and Security of the Person - This article recognises the right of every woman to her bodily integrity and security of her person. It prohibits all violence against women, as well as exploitation and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It calls for the promotion of peace, and the eradication of harmful cultural or traditional practices.

ARTICLE 6: Marriage - This article gives equal rights between a couple on a marriage in choosing the matrimonial regime and place of residence. It also requires that marriages take place with free and full consent of both parties who must be over the age of 18. It protects the rights of women in polygamous unions, gives married women the right to retain her maiden name and her nationality if she so chooses. It also gives her the right to acquire her own property and to administer and manage it freely.

ARTICLE 8: Access to Justice and Equal Protection before the Law - This article recognises women and men as equal before the law, and have the right to fair trial and the benefit of the law. It requires that women are able to access judicial and legal aid services, and that states support initiativs directed at reforming disciminatory laws and practices.

ARTICLE 9: Right to Participation in the Political and Decision-Making Process - This article upholds the right of women to participate ctively and effectively in electoral and other decision-making processes. It requires the states level the playing field in the policial arena and ensure women are adquately represented at all levels.

ARTICLE 10: Right to Peace - This article states that states must ensure participation of women in programmes of education for peace and conflict resolution practices.

ARTICLE 14: Health and Reproductive Rights - This article requires states to ensure women have access to adequate and affordable health services while strengthening existing pre-natal, delivery and post-natal health and nutritional services. It calls for upholding women's rights to control their fertility, the right to decide whether or not to have children, the number of children and spacing of children. It recognises the right to self-protection and being protected from sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS. It also calls for pretection of women's reproductive rights by authorising abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape and incest.

ARTICLE 20: Widow's Rights - The article states that widowed women shall not be subjected to inhuman, humiliating or degrading treatment. A widow shall have the right to remarry a person of her choice and to automatically become guardian of her chidlren after the death of her husband, unless this is contrary to the welfare of the children.

ARTICLE 21: Right to Inheritance - This article requires that a widow have rights to an equitable share in the inheritance of the property of her husband and to remain in the matrimonial house. In the case of remarriage, she shall retain this right if the house belongs to her or if she has inherited it. Similarly, women and men shall have the right to inherit, in equitable shares, the parent's property.

Excerpted from "A Simplified Version of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women", published by the Coalition on Violence Against Women, 2006: Nairobi, Kenya.

Who has ratified the Protocol?

As of January 2008, the following countries have ratified the AU Protocol.

Angola, Benin, BurkinaFaso, Cape Verde, The Comoros, Djibouti, The Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia.

Who hasn't?

As of January 2008, the following countries have not ratified the AU Protocol.

Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatoria Guine, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia,Mauritius, Niger, Uganda, Sudan, Madagascar, Sahrawi Arab, Democratic Republic Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

 Crossroads cast biographies

Cast members are listed in no particular order

fedelisFedelis Kyalo Kithome (Baba Bahati) - started his career in 1990 in high school as an actor. In 1990 Fedelis was trained as a puppeteer by a family promotion programmes service, from there he formed his own group, Krystall Puppet Theatre, a puppet theatre that has been effective over the years, doing shows in Kenya and abroad. He’s also a member of a percussion group in Nairobi called Drum Café Safari. Fedelis plays Djembe and percussions and is also a trainer in puppetry.lydia

Lydia Dola (Deputy Sifa) - is a member of the 5 Centuries women’s theatre group, an activist, a song writer and poet. Lydia is currently working on her new project as a founder of African Tunes of Peace, which its main aim is to promote peace and human rights in Africa.



Anthony Mboyo (Tim Taabu) - an accomplished puppetry theatre director specializing in Community development theatre. Currently working with the community health awareness and action puppeteers (CHAPS) as a program officer.


Pauline Wanjiru (Tumaini) - is an activist and a feminist; she is also a member of the 5 Centuries theatre activists group which uses community theatre to advocate for human rights.


JackJack K Omondi (Inspector Tumbo) - is an accomplished puppet designer and creator who has theatrical backgrounds in animation of puppets and objects.


 Diana W. Waituika (Market Woman, Old Woman) - is a member of the 5 Centuries theatre group. The 5 CDianaenturies uses theatre to educate and entertaining people. Diana is also a community worker she works full time at the National Convention Executive Council ( NCEC).


SophiaSophia D. Ogutu (Nurse, Mama Toni) - is member of a led theatre group, 5 Centuries human rights group. They do progressive performance for social transformation and promotion of human rights especially women issues. Sophia works with a social moment. as a programs assistant in charge of campaign and advocacy at the National Convention Executive Council (NCEC


Maureen Akinyi Obara (Raha) - is a collage student. She is a supporter of the rights of women especially young girls like her. Maureen loves drama, she took part in drama when she was in school. Her greatest ambition is to become a medical micro-biologist.


JosephineJosephine Odour (Mama Bahati) - is 26 years old, currently taking a mass communication course. She loves singing, acting, dancing and traveling. Working with CMFD productions will definitely be a stepping stone for her, in her career and she is looking forward to enjoying every moment of it. Josephine is a third born child in a family of five children. She hopes this production will be a great use to the community whom are about to receive it and they may learn from it all the values talked about in the drama.


Anne Wanjiku Gaia (Tausi) - is a middle aged lady, very interested in human rights issues and has been in this field for almost ten years. She advocates for all people to be equal, especially women, who have been left behind for so many years. Her hobbies are working with community, dancing, doing skies for Gric education. Anne is looking forward to this production to help so many women especially those who are at the ground and know their rights.


IreneIrene A. Onjiko (Mama Sweety) - is a 27 years old female Kenyan and a born again Christian. She loves community work where she can practice charity and humanity to all and influence lives of people positively. She is a sociable, flexible and love music, singing and dancing. Irene is an information Technology/ Management professional by training and experience. She also does gospel music and currently working on her first album. Being the third born among six siblings from a humble Christian background and having gone through some real African lifestyle. She would love to defend the rights of children, youth and women in the best way possible.


Christine N Kyule (Mama Dawa, Mama Mercy) - is a mature, energetic, innovation, social,Christine outgoing, literal, understanding, tolerant and patient, with a good sense of humor and ability to adjust to different situations. Her hobbies are drama, music, reading and traveling .she likes volunteering and participating in activities that educate and raise awareness to people. Christine has a vision towards anything concerning human rights with a special focus on women’s rights and children’s rights as well as matters concerning the environment. she has good logistic skills, with fluent English, Kiswahili and working knowledge of French and German, with ability to learn more languages. She loves indoor fames likes table tennis and chess. Acting is a her greatest talent and hope to be able to make good use of, educating others through it and creating awareness through it, so that other also benefit from it.


FredrickFredrick Ookoh (Corporal Odihambo, Young Taabu) - is a Kenyan man aged 30 years old. He associates himself with human rights issues as an actor by profession and a radio presenter with a local radio station. Fredrick likes socializing, and has done various presentations on both adverts and stage performances. He believes theatre is life and one can triumph through it.

Murage Nderutu (Mzee Taabu) - is a person who likes discovering different things which Murageconcern different issues this is culture, environment, science etc. Murage also likes meeting a lot of people, exchanging ideas and getting involved in different activities. He speaks three different languages: English, Swahili and French.

Making the Protocol accesible to listening audiences.The AU Protocol is a very important document. However, most people outside of the NGO sector do not know about it. It needs to be popularised so that people know that it exists and how it affects them. Currently, a campaign for its ratification and domestication is being spearheaded by a coalition of more than twenty organisations known as Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR).





















































































































































































































































































































































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