On March 4, 2013, Kenya successfully and peacefully held a historic election, the first one after the inauguration of the ambitious democracy-protecting Constitution of Kenya 2010.
In the run up to the elections, multi-media communications company, Well Told Story (WTS), was approached by the Independent Elections & Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Kenyan Ministry of Education to create a campaign that would engage school children in the election process.
Well Told Story is the social enterprise behind the award winning multi-platform production Shujaaz.FM. Shujaaz.FM tells educational, change-focused stories on multiple platforms (comic books, syndicated FM radio, SMS, social media, web and video animation) to youth across Kenya.
It was the immensely popular Shujaaz characters and brand that the IEBC wanted to use to speak directly to Kenyan youth about the elections. WTS created a special campaign called ‘Apisha Paro’ [meaning ‘Parents’ Pledge’] to empower children to assist in the peace process. The idea behind the campaign was that the elections matter to children, even if they cannot vote. They are the ones who suffered in the post-election violence of 2008 and, as a result, they want to be able to do something to prevent it happening again. They too needed to be empowered to ensure the outcome of the elections is peaceful and successful.
In ‘Apisha Paro’, Shujaaz.FM hero DJ B challenged every school child to get five adults in their home to pledge that they will to turn up and vote in the elections (if registered) and to accept the results peacefully. Once they had all five signatures, they returned their forms to school where they have the chance to win prizes.
The campaign was launched on various platforms:
- 9.5 million special comics that were given to every primary school child in Kenya. An additional 850,000 Shujaaz.FM comics also featured the pledge.
- A Facebook page that would to appeal more directly to secondary school students. Fans of the page were invited to send photos of themselves pledging.
- An animation was broadcast every day for a week on three national television stations.
- The animation was circulated on YouTube.
- The call to action was broadcast every day for a week on 26 FM radio stations.
‘Apisha Paro’ was received with enthusiasm as it provided children with an opportunity to directly participate in preserving peace and the rule of law. Speaking during the launch of the campaign, IEBC Commissioner Yusuf Nzibo said the purpose of the Sh14.2 million (US$ 170,00) campaign was ‘to turn school children into peace ambassadors in the communities they live as they encourage their parents to commit to the promotion of a peaceful and participatory electoral process’.
This was not the first education-focused campaign for Shujaaz.FM. Previously, the comic has addressed issues such as teacher absenteeism, how to avoid and report sexual abuse from teachers, how to improve safety in your school and how to address tribalism in schools. All Shujaaz.FM campaigns are run on multiple platforms to ensure the target audience in reached. Rob Burnet, director of Well Told Story says: ‘It is the combination of the Shujaaz.FM comic books, syndicated FM radio, SMS, social media, web and video animation in engaging five million youth every month in a huge public conversation that is helping to change the way people live, think, act and govern in Kenya.’
“Comics for peace – Shujaaz and the Kenyan elections’ Education” is one of the twelve opinion pieces featured in the eLearning Africa 2013 Report. To read more about the annual publication, please visit: http://elearning-africa.com/media_library_publications_ela_report_2013.php.