By Our Reporter
Media Focus on Africa (MFA) and its partners yesterday (Thursday) hosted the premiere of 13 episodes of the much anticipated part drama series called ‘’Yat Madit’’. The series aim to promote intercultural dialogue and demonstrate alternative ways of dealing with conflicts, leading to more social cohesion and sustainable peace among Ugandans especially those in post-conflict situations. It will air on NTV on Thursdays, 8 – 9pm as it started last evening.
“The series is about a multi-cultural community in a trading center called Yat Madit recovering from the ravages of war in Northern Uganda. The community must put aside individual and cultural differences and work together to craft a way forward after the war or they could stagnate,” Mburugu Gikunda, Associate Producer, MFA.
Yat Madit is part of a multi-media project for social change funded by the European Union, ICCO Cooperation, Doen Foundation and implemented by Media Focus on Africa in collaboration with Trivision Uganda Ltd. According to Gikunda, although this story is based on real life experiences of communities in Northern and North-Eastern Uganda, including the Lango, Teso, Acholi and Karamojong regions most recently affected by armed conflict, it has been made to reflect any post-conflict community across the country.
“The people in Northern and North-Eastern Uganda have undergone over 20 years of socio-economic and cultural instability during the civil war. That is a long time for them to recover to normalcy; therefore a culture oriented sensitisation like Yat Madit can help to shorten the period of recovery since it speaks directly to diverse human attitudes and people easily relate with culture. This could be an accelerator to development and social change,” H.E Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, EU Head of Delegation to Uganda. He adds, “When people watch this – they will say, “Yes, this is our life”. The purpose is not to watch something entertaining and then go away, but to stimulate a debate about these issues and then help reconciliation and recovery to go forward.”
In the plot, the community grapples with post-conflict challenges like unemployment, land wrangles, life as war returnees, homeless former IDP camp residents, alcoholism, and domestic violence, among others, and must find a common ground to work together. “Eventually, we expect that the various communities in post-conflict situations in Uganda, especially Northern and North-Eastern Uganda will be able to peacefully resolve the issues affecting them and work together regardless of their socio-cultural differences, when they watch the series and follow how the community works towards finding solutions to the challenges it faces,’’ Caroline Ort, Programme Development Manager at ICCO.
MFA produced the script after organising dialogue sessions within the various communities in Acholi, Lango, Teso and Karamoja to understand the key challenges they faced through the recovery process. This information was then used to create the script, which was written together with selected Ugandan writers.
Gladys Oyenbot one of the actresses (Beatrice), who suffers domestic violence, yet is reluctant to hold him accountable for his behavior said, “The hope is that similar victims who watch Yat Madit learn from Beatrice’s experience and come out boldly to seek help and counseling…”
Brenda Awor who acted as Zena, a homeless former IDP who has to fend for her siblings, says that Yat Madit exposes the realities of the victims of war. ‘’Little has been said or shown on the current status of the victims of the war in Northern Uganda: However, in Yat Madit, you come to the awareness of the current struggles they face such as post conflict trauma and homelessness of ex-child soldiers and IDPs. Acting as Zena makes me feel their pain,” says Awor.
Alongside the broadcast of the series, MFA will return to the communities to host inter-cultural dialogues. Through these sessions, communities from different cultures will watch the series and then talk over the emerging issues in the plot and find possible solutions to address them. The drama series is also being adapted as a radio play in local languages of Luo (for Acholi and Lango), Ateso and Nga’ Karimojong, a process that has been facilitated by Doen Foundation.
The various issues raised in the story are expected to present the public with different ways in which they can resolve conflicts or come to agreement through peaceful means and in the process contribute to addressing the issues faced by communities in post conflict situations.
Media Focus on Africa used a similar approach in Kenya through the award winning ‘THE TEAM’ produced to help to resolve conflicts that flared up after the post-election violence of 2007/8.