Saliwansai Radio Drama
Soul Beat Africa
January 23, 2013
In February 2012, Population Media Centre (PMC), with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), started production on a 208-episode radio drama in Sierra Leone to promote family planning. The programme, called Saliwansai, addresses such issues as preventing and repairing obstetric fistula, ending female genital mutilation, stopping gender-based violence, and preventing HIV infection.
Saliwansai, which literally means puppet on a string, was chosen as the name for the drama because the characters, like puppets, can easily be pulled one way or the other. According to PMC, as the stories unfold, the audience is meant to feel ‘the pulls of the string’ or in other words, the pressures and challenges of life that the characters face, and be on the edge of their seats as the characters try to find their way. The 208 episodes of Saliwansai will run twice a week for a period of 2 years on the following radio stations: Citizen Radio FM 103.7, Radio Kiss 104 FM, Radio Mankneh FM 95.1, and Eastern Radio.
Saliwansai follows the lives of four main characters: Abu, Hingah, Gibo, and Wara, all with their own unique stories, yet over time it is revealed how each of their lives intersect. Abu is a school dropout who is being pressured to marry and have lots of children. Hingah attends the university and is very studious, however, all is threatened by his new relationship with Monica who introduces him to various temptations he would otherwise avoid. Gibo is an impressionable young man who looks up to his abusive older brother. Wara is a young girl who is determined to find her mother and the truth behind her disappearance.
According to PMC, the project is designed to spread knowledge around population and reproductive health issues through entertainment-education. This begins with formative research to design the long-running radio drama followed by quantitative and qualitative research to measure and evaluate the social effects of the drama.
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