Stories from Uganda showing the impact Minibuzz has had in society
Anne Kansiime’s sketch Are you ‘Kukwana-ing’ me?
The sketches featuring on the Minibuzz program on Mondays and Wednesdays (but now feature three times a week) are being uploaded separately and have experienced enormous popularity and significant following. Many of the sketches reach 1 million views and have been featured as a phenomenon by the BBC as well as have been featured (illegally on TV stations in Kenya and all across Southern Africa).
One particular sketch that has generated direct impact in Uganda has been the skit titled: “You have to kukwana me”, which features Anne being ‘called upon’ by a man on the street. Instead of feeling intimidated by the harassment, her character instead reverses the situation by harassing the man in return and forces him to date her (he takes her number and is forced to promise to take her on a date otherwise threatened with violence). The man completely intimidated by such a forthcoming woman sheeplessly accepts the proposal despite being terrified.
The sketch was such a hit on social media and was heavily distributed on phone apps such as WhatsApp, that the viewership surpassed 2 million hits. The term stop ‘kukwan-ing’ me (which loosely translated means stop pretending to flirt with me when you don’t really intend to), has become a household expression amongst Ugandan youth.
Water tanks and new floors for rural schools in Jinja
The Minibuzz and Bernard van Leer Foundation’s (BvLF) programs broadcast in Uganda in December 2012 and repeated in early January 2013, were very well received by both the donors and the general public (based on general feedback on Facebook and word of mouth feedback). This particular series of shows (three children’s programs commissioned by BvLF, to commemorate the Independence Day Jubilee celebrations), featured children discussing topics that related to children’s rights in light of Uganda’s Fifty Years of Independence.
This particular program featured pupils from rural schools in Jinja who highlighted the lack of adequate facilities in their community schools. When answering the question; “What do you like about school?” during the light topic segment of the program, many children on the bus expressed the need for new floors and water tanks in their school as these were hindering their learning. The ‘dirt’ floors in their classrooms often gave them chiggers (parasites which enter the sole of the feet and cause acute irritation and dermatitis), which would occasion absenteeism and medical attention, which the children’s families often could not afford to treat. The lack of water tanks at the school premises also forced many children to miss classes as they were often tasked to fetch water at far away wells or boreholes.
The broadcast of this program generated direct impact as a local organization in Jinja (in the region where the programs were produced) took it upon itself to raise funds with the help of donors from abroad with sole purpose of cementing the floors as well as provide water tanks to the schools that were featured in the Minibuzz program (from St Kizito Primary School and Kagogwa Primary School). It was explained that donations and school renovations that occurred in March 2013 at St Kizito Primary School directly resulted from the broadcast of the Minibuzz program. The local NGO Health Child, operating in Jinja) confirmed the impact of the Minibzz programs. Health Child are partners of Bernard van Leer Foundation and the Minibuzz team collaborated with the organization to produce Minibuzz-BvLF children’s programs.
Kiteezi landfill is the main (and probably the only) legal landfill serving the whole city of Kampala. Constructed in 1995, the landfill was engineered to be a sanitary landfill where waste is managed, compacted, covered with soil and the water seepage treated before returning to neighbouring swamps and waterways.
In early February 2013, the Minibuzz went to the Kiteika village where the Kiteezi landfill is located, to find out how the communities were affected by the growing landfill that is managed the the Kampala City Council Authority. The program’s topic question was: How is garbage collection affecting the people of Kiteika? The random passengers picked up in the Kiteika neighbourhood quickly began deploring the mismanagement of the site and the environmental disaster that was taking place in their community. The water seepage from the waste was not being treated and flowing directly in the surrounding waterways affecting the health of people and animals in the whole neighbourhood. Though the site does create employment for the community, the discussion on the bus clearly indicated that the long-term pollution brought upon by the mismanaged site greatly outweighed any of the benefits of job creation. Many workers were chronically sick, the contaminated water affected especially the children in the village and decimated livestock.
NTV News quickly picked up this shocking revelation of the landfill’s mismanagement the following day. The horrible conditions of the site and the pollution in the surrounding area brought upon public outcry and members of Parliament demanded to visit site. The city authorities blocked the visit from Parliamentarians and this subsequently only increased media exposure of the problem as the story made the headlines in most Uganda’s dailies. Since the broadcast, the KCCA has vowed to take active measures to address the problems facing the community in Kiteika village.
Electricity in Arua
Much of the West Nile region’s power supply is not generated by Uganda’s national powergrid at Bujagali Falls. Instead, power supply to the region including the town of Arua is supplied by a thermal plant run by the West Nile Rural Electrification company (WENRECO). WENRECO was contracted to run a thermal plant to provide electricity to the region since 2003. Since 2006 not more than a few hours of electricity a day has been provided to consumers.
When the plant broke down in October 2011 things only got worse as the WENRECO plant was replaced by two small generators and power to the city of Arua and much of the West Nile became even scarcer, sometimes leaving the city in the dark for weeks at a time.
Meanwhile the construction of Nyagak power dam in Zombo District that started in 2006 was expected to have lasted for two years but the work has dragged on as government keeps on extending deadlines it has set for the contractor to complete the work. This dam will be able to provide adequate power to the region and the latest deadline for completion is end of August.
It was against this background that Minibuzz decided to do a show on the state of power supply to the West Nile region.
A week after the broadcast of the Minibuzz ‘rural’ program on electricity in the West Nile region (broadcast in July 2012), it was reported that the dam has since been installed with new machines and this was done on the 1st August after the airing of the show on the state of the Nyagak Dam. The program, where passengers from Arua were vehemently complaining about the abuse of power and inefficiency of the WENRECO corporation (who also refused to comment and give an interview for the Minibuzz Instart of which the hosts did mention on the program) finally provided power to the region after nearly 10 year in the dark and 7 years past the set deadline.