Madjuba: Quest for the Talisman

A community listens as a wise storyteller weaves a tale of adventure and fantasy, unaware the story's magic has transported their stubborn neighbor Arlindo to a far off fantasy world. Through the hero Chamwari's quest, the village listeners realise they too can speak up, make change in their community, and hold government accountable.

 

For UNESCO Mozambique, this 13-part radio drama in Portuguese, Changaan, and Sena raises awareness/ discussion on: democracy, rights, civic participation, tranparency, right to information.

Producing the drama
Using drama for social change can be very effective, as messaging can be creatively woven into a strong, exciting story. Audiences engage with the issues through their emotional involvement in the story and the characters. By identifying with the characters and travelling alongside them as they face conflicts and make decisions, audiences are also forced to face those conflicts, and li ve through those decisions. The project included the production of the drama, original theme music, as well as related support materials for radio stations. Drama production began with formative research and storyplanning, before moving on to scripting.Auditions were held in Maputo to cast the Portuguese and Changaan versions of the drama, from over 40 actors, 23 actors were cast, with some actors playing multiple parts. Following rehearsals, actors voiced the drama in the studio. A similar process took place in Beira, to record Sena.

Click here to read more about the process of creating Madjuba.

Using fantasy-adventure

Madjuba

Issues related to governance can arise a lot of passion amongst people. The aim of this drama is to use an entertaining and -fantasy genre, creating a completely different world, with its own people, places and rules - that has parallels to reality - and scripting an action-adventure that brings our main character through this world. Over the course of the story the hero, along with his allies, travel though different lands, each with a task or problem to overcome related to key governance issues: accountability/ transparency, civic participation and the need for a strong civil society, freedom of expression, corruption, and political intolerance. Many of the characters were inspired by Mozambican folklore – for example, the fallen King has characteristics of the Lion, and the dark force speaks and acts like the Mamba. The mystical Storyteller becomes the narrator, who helps move the story along, and explain events.engaging approach to create awareness about democracy and human rights in a way that is sensitive and pro-active. The drama was reated in an adventure

Key Issues

The project outline identified several key issues to be included in the drama, including democracy and human rights, covering transparency, participation and governance, right to information, and freedom of expressi on. Many of these were also echoed during desk research and a roundtable discussion held with organisations working on governance issues in Mozambique. This research suggests that one of th e most important issues to be communicated through the drama is that people need to know their rights, including what is in the constitution, in order to participate as active citizens. Having this basic information is the cornerstone to good governance

Other key issues identified as important to incorporate into the drama:

  • Transparency – it is important for all people to take an active interest in governance, such as knowing how their government is spending money, when they meet, what they are doing, etc.
  • Political Intolerance – there is a need for diverse views and voices to be heard on all aspects of government, and for individuals to be able to exercise their beliefs freely.
  • Freedom of speech – this is enshrined in the constitution, but sometimes does not translate to reality on the ground, sometimes through pressure or self-censorship. Lack of freedom of expression may also exist becaus e some segments of the population are excluded from media, for example, there is gender imbalance within media content.
  • Access to information – if people do not have the information, the y cannot part icipate as active citizens. There is a need for an informed population so that they can play their role in good governance
  • Strengthening civil society is an important part of governance processes.

Behaviours to encourage

  • For leaders – a culture of community consultation can help leaders to know what issues and strategies are most appropriate for different communities.
  • For communities – individuals and communities can use collective action/ voice to help inform their leaders and shape policies. For example, communities can play a role to highlight when their leaders are not fulfilling promises made.
  • Individuals should take it on themselves to be informed about governance issues, especially to know government roles and responsibilities, as well as their own rights.

Wha'ts been said

CMFD held two focus groups, and sent the draft scripts for comment. Reactions are below:

  • [The story gives good advice] especially to our government [which] should also learn that the people have the power to make decisions.
  • Whatever they do or say in the story is what happens in real life. And the story itself is good.
  • [I learned] that government should always listen and work with the people.
  • People will like to listen to this drama because the story is excellent, and relates to the situations in our lives.
  • “It is about freedom of speech.”
  • “Is what is happening currently in Mozambique, that’s why there is even a strike going on right now.”
  • ""The story is questioning, if we really are a democratic country as we claim to be, it is an advice for us not to accept everything the police says.”
  • "It is teaching people not to accept abuses from the authorities.”

Focus group participants also said that the key message in the story is that people should fight for what they believe in and fight for the well being of the community. Although the fantasty-adventure genre was new to some, all felt that the story represents true life. They all agreed that this drama is very relevant to Mozambique and that it represents the problems in the country. One person added that people in Mozambique are just like the people listening to the story - they see the problems, but they just talk about it amongst themselves, instead of taking action.

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