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How to Shape Public Opinion in Tanzania

tanzania-president-jakaya-kikwete-with-spoken-word-artist-FID-QLet’s say you want to make members of the public of your country aware of an important national cause. Let’s say you want them to not only take a stand on that issue but to also influence others to do likewise. How do you go about this exercise in Tanzania?

Choose Subject
Although you would have chosen to focus on the poaching of elephants or rhinos, you have decided to focus on albinism. You want the wanton slaughter of people with albinism to end. You want to educate society that it isn’t true that possessing body parts of human beings with albinism  enriches any one, let alone put more money in the pockets of gold miners as is widely believed.

Choose Approach
Having chosen your subject, it is now time to design the vehicle through which the message will get to the members of the public in the most cost-effective way. Do you want to use paid for advertisements, free online classifieds, informal word of mouth or formal announcements at religious shrines on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays?

stand-up-comedians-bi-chau-and-king-majutoChoose Actors
Instead of sitting back in a helpless heap while throwing your hands up in desperation and surrender, stand up and reach out to popular public figures better known as celebrities to help you drive the message far and wide. Such ‘celebs’ could include musicians, stand up comedians, stage and screen actors and actresses, poets, radio show hosts, broadcasters and filmmakers. Don’t leave out politicians if they can drive your campaign forward.

Get into Action
Take your message and your ‘celebs’ to the people through a road show full of engagingly interesting pop culture art forms like music, radio-show phone in, cellphone short message text service (sms), poetry and spoken word, dance, stand-up comedy and, of course, activism.

poet-singer-mrisho-mpotoInvolve Public
Get the people to the centre of your public awareness campaign. Let them participate in the music concert, in the dance competition, in short public debates, tongue-twisters, michongoano, riddles and the on-spot composition and performance of spoken-word poetry.

Have Fun
Have fun but don’t forget the purpose of your campaign: influencing public opinion towards your cause.

Learn from Others
Tanzanian celebrity artists—stand-up comedians King Majuto and Bi Chau, actor and poet Mrisho Mpoto, spoken word artist Fid Q, and bongo flava singer Keisha—were part of a road show that covered 12 towns and 24 villages in 40 days and nights by road and from which a 60-minute film called Pamoko was made in 2012. The documentary, that addressed the plight of albinos, is currently on the film festival circuit around the world.

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