Soap Operas With a Social Message

January 31, 2012 • Serial Dramas, News

Please see this recent NY Times “Opinionater” article, written by Sarika Bansal, a freelance journalist and a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. As you are likely aware, Population Media Center works around the world to deliver entertainment-education programming, with an emphasis on educating about the benefits of small families, encouraging the use of effective family planning methods, elevating women’s status and promoting gender equity. See here:

January 26, 2012, 9:15 pm
Soap Operas With a Social Message

Every Sunday evening, seven million Kenyans sit in front of their television sets to watch “Makutano Junction,” a soap opera set in a fictional village. In one episode, audiences watch as a woman, Mama Mboga, holds her crying infant. “I need some money to take Joni to hospital,” she tells her husband, Erasmus, after he wakes up and takes a swig from a bottle. “I think he has malaria.” Erasmus insists that his son is healthy, that she is overreacting and that he has no money to give her.

Erasmus eventually gives her some money, but only enough for chloroquine, which is not always effective in fighting malaria. When Joni gets sicker, Mama Mboga takes him to the emergency room, but he dies even before seeing the doctor. Her friends rush to console her as she begins crying, “My baby is dead!” in the waiting room.

As with traditional soap operas, the above story line is full of emotion, conflict and suspense. Scattered cliffhangers leave the audience wondering what will happen next. As I watched it, I found myself beginning to wonder, Will Joni survive? Will Erasmus stop drinking? Will Mama Mboga stand up to her deadbeat husband?

To read the full article, please click here:

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