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A Spicy New Radio Drama Aims to Bring Positive Social Change to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Feb 25, 2015

KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO– A new radio drama airing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this month entices audiences into a world where high-risk sex, poverty, friendship, and desperation collide to be simultaneously entertaining, controversial, and—educational.

Airing on 10 community radio stations in Kinshasa, Equateur province and Orientale province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Elembo (“Footprint”), makes its premier as the second radio serial drama in the region produced by Population Media Center, a US nonprofit dedicated to addressing health and human rights issues around the world. Broadcast begins on February 25, 2015 and the serial drama will run for 18 months.

Elembo is written and produced in Lingala, one of the five national languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the exciting plot is designed to draw attention to important social issues, including adolescent reproductive health, child and maternal health, refugees, and deforestation.

Entertainment education is the cornerstone of Population Media Center’s (PMC) approach to positively affecting change in a variety of different cultures, languages, and environments around the globe. PMC dramas engage audiences with authentic characters and culturally appropriate challenges and opportunities. Positive, negative, and transitional characters role model behaviors and realistic consequences. The goal of every program is to model various viewpoints and interpersonal communication, so that locals talk about the issues and ultimately make their own choices—but all in a highly engaging, entertaining drama that never tells the audience what to do.

“We are eager to watch Elembo become a popular and successful drama alongside our first drama in the DRC, Vivra Verra (“Time Will Tell”), which began airing in September of 2014 and has been growing in popularity and influence,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “Although both programs use the same approach, each drama has completely different stories, different characters, and address different issues. An important issue that will be addressed in Elembo is refugees – something that has not previously been addressed in any prime-time entertainment drama in DRC. ” The United Nations estimates that there are some 2.3 million displaced persons and refugees in the country.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa and ranks second to last on the Human Development Index (186 out of 187 countries) and it’s per capita income is among the lowest in the world (87.7 percent of the people live on less than US $1.25 per day).  Contraceptives and modern health services are not widely used by the majority of the population.

“We can help change cultural norms and improve the understanding of available health resources by opening conversations about child health, reproductive and maternal health, children’s education, and gender equality,” says Bill Ryerson, PMC’s President and Founder. “We hope to make life better for as many people who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as we can.”