Once a “Goliath” – Now an Ally for Change

“My husband was ‘Old Goliath’ before we started listening to your show. Our son nick-named him that because of his aggressiveness. We continue to call him that… but he has changed a lot.”

If you want to understand how Population Media Center’s fictional radio programs create real-life allies for social change, this quote by Mireille Bangumba speaks volumes. She and her husband, Claude Bangumba, became avid listeners of Vivra Verra (“Time Will Tell”), a 156-episode radio drama broadcast in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 2014 through 2016.

“Old Goliath” was a prominent negative character in Vivra Verra – an alcoholic with a temper who relies on physical domination to impose his will on his wife and family and prevent his son from going to school. Unfortunately, in Mireille and Claude’s household, real-life truth was not too far from PMC’s fiction – which was why their 4-year old son started referring to Claude as “Old Goliath.”

This innocent gesture by the son initially struck the family as humorous, but it also sparked enormous self-reflection in Claude – eventually leading to a change in his behavior that greatly improved the family dynamics. This success story was discovered by Valentin Mitendo, the local producer of Vivra Verra. He had traveled to the Kananga district of DRC to conduct field research and manage a Vivra Verra promotional listener’s contest – all to help assess how many people had listened to the PMC drama and measure how much information they had retained.

“It was during an interview with a [promotional contest] winner that I discovered ‘Old Goliath’,” Valentin says. “On the eve of the awards, we were calling winners to prepare for the prize-giving ceremony. Despite her enthusiasm, Mireille Bangumba told me that she could not come because of personal reasons. I expressed the wish to see her at the small ceremony and she said she would send her husband.”

During this conversation, Mireille also told Valentin about the “Old Goliath” nickname. So, when Valentin got the chance to meet Claude, he had some direct questions for him.

“So your child baptized you Goliath?” asked Valentin.

“As a matter of fact,” laughed Claude, “my child, who is four years old, when he does something he wants but may cause trouble, he says to me, ‘Papa, are you Papa Goliath?’ He said that when one punishes his sons, that is [being a] Papa Goliath.”

Valentin and Claude both chuckled, feeling gratitude and happiness at the family’s newly adopted ways of interacting. The conversation was showing that the lessons of the drama* had been understood and internalized by Mireille, Claude, and their son. Claude had become more aware, and more in control, of his temper. Vivra Verra drew the family back night after night with entertaining drama, while also imparting important lessons that they shared as a family and that will last long after broadcast stops.

“It is something we listen to as a family. When I get home and in the evenings we relax with all of the children – we can listen to it before sleeping,” said Claude.

This is just what PMC loves to hear. The researchers, writers, actors, technicians…everyone involved in the show had succeeded. Their fictionalized character, “Old Goliath,” a figment of research and imagination, had illuminated aspects of Claude’s character and helped him and his family navigate those negative traits to develop more open, respectful, and equitable relationships.

This is what Population Media Center is all about: confident, informed, empowered individuals in our listening audience that are newly motivated to adopt positive behaviors.

*NOTE: In PMC’s behavior change methodology, we embed three character types into the story for each issue being addressed: positive, negative, and transitional. To learn more about our methodology, please click here.

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