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The Fataki Campaign

Fataki Campaign - Changing Acceptance of Cross-Generational Sex in Tanzania. A fictional cartoon character is created and broadcast, with a touch of humour, to inspire greater resistance to deeply damaging culturaly entrenched behaviour.

Photo of James Robertson
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He may be a "big man," but people are laughing him out of town. From the market to the Mayor's office, people are talking about Fataki.

Fataki is a fictional Tanzanian sugar daddy. His stories are known by the masses. But this on-air phenomenon is not meant to merely entertain. Fataki is part of an aptly named Fataki campaign - a campaign supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that works to lower the spread of HIV/AIDS by rallying communities around Tanzania to put an end to harmful cross-generational sex.

In each story played on air, Fataki repeatedly preys on young women offering them money, gifts and promises for sex. But with each plot, Fataki is unexpectedly thwarted by the young girl's family, friends and her community members.

First tested on the Morogoro Region's radio waves, many have been quick to call the Fataki a success. The campaign's findings in Morogoro show why. By the end of Fataki's pilot run in the region, 88 percent of Morogoro's adult residents said that, as a result of Fataki, they felt they could now do something to help solve the problem of cross-generational sex. Community members said that by ridiculing Fataki's behavior, they were able to develop language they could use to help actively intervene in potential cross-generational sex situations. Forty-four percent of Morogoro adults also said they now call sugar daddies "Fataki," adding to the behavioral change the campaign seeks to accomplish.

"When we have evidence of this, community leaders need to take action. We have used Fataki as an example in our community meetings," Chambda Yuma Umbisho, the Chairman of Doma Village in Morogoro, said.

Since its initial success in Morogoro, the campaign has spread to neighboring regions in Tanzania. As of November 2008, Fataki spots regularly broadcast on 15 radio stations across Tanzania and will continue to run through the end of February 2009.

Perhaps a similar approach of narrative and radio can be used to further press the cultural resistance against mass violence, and in particular ridicule those involved in the recruitment of child soldiers.

 

source: pepfar

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Photo of Kenneth Walton

I like the comic book approach to educating the public on an issue. It does not come across as to heavy handed, and the point can be made using a very unflattering protagonist without insulting any specific person. It also can be done with little, or no text and humor will attract a lot of younger readers. Great idea!

Photo of James Robertson

Hi Kenneth, thanks. Agree with all you say about the subtlety of comic books and cartoons. I think the Fataki campaign was almost entirely radio based though which made distribution a great deal easier. Perhaps there is room for a whole raft of mediums!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Great example of how to spread information and change behaviour. I think it's important that we understand what works to do so, and this example helps.

Photo of James Robertson

Thanks Arjan. I think the subtle strength of the Fataki stories, is that they address the role of the whole community surrounding the vulnerable young girls. The behaviour change is acknowledged as being too great for the individual to deal with alone, so her whole support network are prescribed roles, small or large, in helping her evage the clutches of Fataki. Child soldiers are probably even more powerless to make their own decisions, so engaging the entire spectrum of society is important.

In truth I have no idea how powerful cartoons would be against entire armies, but maybe the pen can indeed be mightier than the sword!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great share, James. Popular culture can be such a great vehicle for building awareness around social issues. Here's another example from Africa I covered for Design Observer a while back: http://changeobserver.designobserver.com/feature/yoza/25038/

Photo of James Robertson

Hi Meena! Thanks... Yoza looks awesome. Will investigate further!

Photo of Mark Longchamps

Interesting. I think we can all agree that radio/TV/internet is a very powerful medium but the question here is how do we get it to the masses in remote locations? This cartoon is proof that raising awareness can really help a situation. I am going to assume Morocco has a better infrastructure for radio and tv than the parts of Africa we are talking about. In this case the message is the easy part. The delivery medium is the one I feel we have to work on.

Photo of James Robertson

Hi Mark, thanks for your thoughts. Agree that finding the right broadcasting medium is key. However I think this campaign (in Morogoro, Tanzania, not Morocco, hehe!) highlighted the thorough reach of radio. Especially with lots of people owning wind-up radios that are not reliant on battery or mains electricity.