WHO WE ARE
WHAT WE DO
Theatre for Development
originated in the late 1970’s as an effective and appropriate medium
for communicating with rural communities in developing countries
where existing media systems had failed to serve the needs of
development in Africa. The failure was due to the cultural gap
existing between the urban class who were in charge of those media,
and the rural communities.
Theatre is now widely regarded as an
effective medium for spreading information in rural communities.
It is democratic – audiences play
a major role in producing and distributing messages;
It is de-centralised;
It is capable of integrating
indigenous and popular systems of communication;
It is technologically appropriate,
relying on human resources;
It uses interpersonal channels,
rather than the mediated channels of electronic and print
(Zakes Mda, When People Play People)
Theatre has the additional advantage of being an immediate
form of communication, which addresses problems in an integrated
manner. The audience is engaged emotionally and mentally, and the
use of humour and other dramatic devices encourage participants to
speak without the inhibitions which formal meetings or other
communication systems perpetuate.
Seka is committed to interactive discussion within the communities
that is capable of changing attitudes and generating change. “To
create messages does not mean merely to respond to messages created
by external agents about innovations, but to initiate the process of
communication, so that the most disadvantaged members in the
community, involved in the culture of silence, can express their
political, social and economic needs.” (Zakes Mda). Seka’s intensive
research and participatory method allows people to take ownership of
their problems as well as the solutions to these issues.
Grass-roots decision making:
The processes that Seka employs are guided by the needs of the
community, rather than imposing an outside agenda. Two way
communication allows the content of future development programmes to
be shaped according to these needs.
Action and follow-up:
When used effectively, Theatre stimulates action rather than
allowing debate to stagnate at a ‘talk-shop’ level.
of the Issues and some Results
The BEST CHOICE Campaign – Combating
Child Labour through Education
Although the term 'child labour'
usually bring to mind children working day and night in a sweat
shop, there are other types of child labour – hidden types in the
rural areas of Zambia that no-one really thinks about. For example,
children herding cattle, or carrying out household chores that keep
them from attending school. Child labour is defined as work that
harms the child's emotional, physical or psychological welfare
and/or work that interferes with the child's education.
The BEST CHOICE
Campaign was designed to combat this type of child labour – through
education. Working under the Ministry of Education (in collaboration
with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and
Ministry of Labour and Social Security), it was funded by the US
Department of labour and implemented by
Institutes for Research
. Seka was subcontracted to carry out the community mobilisation and
awareness-raising component. During our research we worked with the
social, economic and cultural reasons for the child labour found in
the area, people's perceptions, suggested interventions and much
more. These issues were then woven into the plays, with interaction
from the audience and suggested interventions leading to results.
Some of the solutions that the community came up with (and
Lack of teachers' houses and classroom blocks.
Community members built classroom blocks and teachers houses (moulded
the bricks, ferried the sand and other building materials)
Children herding cattle all day long and not having time to go to
school. Children finding cattle herding more interesting than
Parents came up with a duty roster for herding the cattle to allow
the children to go to school. Children herded cattle on the
weekends. Parents built 'play parks' in the schools using natural
materials to make school more enticing for the children.
Early pregnancies - young girls getting pregnant at 13 or 14 years
The community requested that we sit with the women initiators to
look at the content of the initiation teachings. These are are
sometimes explicit, leading to children wanting to experiment
sexually at an early age. We collaborated with the initiation
teachers to add an HIV component to the initiations. These workshops
were conducted in a very sensitive manner and to great success