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.


The process

In order to deepen our understanding of governance issues and how they affect populations in Mozambique, CMFD conducted formative research into priority governance issues, how people perceive these issue and what the challenges and opportunities are. The project TOR identified several key issues to be included in the drama. Many of these were also echoed during desk research and a roundtable discussion held with organisations working on governance issues in Mozambique. The formative research suggested that one of the 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.

The next step was to decide on key characters needed to tell the story, what they were like, and what kind of journey they needed to go on to fulfill the project objectives. Based on key themes and formative research, characters and a storyline was created, to communicate the governance messages. CMFD then plotted a story planning/ message matrix. This story plan outlines the characters, what happens in the story, and all of the intended messages and information to be passed through the drama, with key communication for social change (CFSC) principles in mind. A long held and well-tested belief in CFSC circles is that the initiative must be entertaining and engaging in its own right in order to gain and hold the interest of audiences. It must be seen as a good quality drama first, and an educational drama second.

This idea was sent to Mozambican scriptwriter Evaristo Abreu, who developed it further into a full storyline. Evaristo Abreu started his drama career in 1984 and has since directed and performed in about 100 conventional and community plays produced by the Tchova Xita Duma, Mutumbela Gogo and Mbêu theatre groups. Evaristo has also worked in television and cinema as an actor, assistant director and producer. From 1997 to 2004 he studied social sciences at the University Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. From 1987 to 2009 he participated in festivals and conferences in Europe, Brazil, southern Africa and the Maghreb. From 1999 to 2005 he produced the Festival of August (Festival International de Teatro D’Agosto) in Maputo. Currently Evaristo is studying towards his Master’s in Drama Degree at Wits University in Johannesburg, through the Drama for Life Programme, thanks to a scholarship from the Goethe Institute.

After drafting the first 4 episodes of the drama based on the creative brief, we held two focus group discussions with community members to be sure that the story was understandable and that the messages were being understood. After the Portuguese language scripts were finalised the texts were translated into Changaan and Cisena. Some adaptations were also made to character names, so that they were more relevant to Chanagaan speaking listeners.

Because all of the dramas share the same sounds and structure, CMFD’s process is to full complete the first language of a set of dramas, in this case Portuguese. This allows us to create, record, and place all sound effects, which are the most time consuming part of the production process, then use these same sound effects for other languages. The subsequent languages are then voice edited (for when actors make mistakes and to correct quality) and the sound effects created in the initial language production are laid over the African languages. This saves time, and costs to the client. The perfection of the first language is the key part of the process, as otherwise should we add sound effects after language productions begin, it would need to be done four times, instead of one.

A large part of creating an aurally rich drama that generates a three-dimensional world in the mind of the listener comes through the use of high-quality, appropriate sound effects. As much as possible CMFD uses foleyed effects recorded by our staff. As part of producing this drama, approximately 60 sound effects specific to the series were created.

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