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THE TEAM, a new television series, premières in Kenya on May 21st at 8:00pm, and will be seen nationally on Citizen-TV each Thursday. The series was co-produced by Media Focus on Africa Foundation and Search for Common Ground, in response to last year's devastating post-election violence. Using an entertainment format, The Team shows how members of a new Kenyan soccer/football club learn to deal with their tribal, ethnic, social and economic divisions.
The Team, tells the stories of seven young Kenyan footballers from different tribes and socio-economic backgrounds, who must overcome their mutual distrust and prejudices so that their team, Imani F.C., has a chance of winning an important tournament. The series aims to shift the way Kenyans think about their neighbours and themselves. Using dramatic television to promote positive social change, the show demonstrates that conflicts may be inevitable, but that everyone can respond to conflict non-violently.
The Series was developed, written, and directed by Kenyans. It is the first time that tribal stereotypes and conflicts are dealt with on Kenyan television, using a popular entertainment format. “Search for Common Ground uses popular culture – including soap opera, music videos, and sports -- to defuse violence and promote mutual understanding,” said John Marks, President of Search for Common Ground.
Executive Producer Mburugu Gikunda remarked “I long for a Kenya in which we all are going to be proud of our ethnicity, and instead of using it negatively, use our diversity to our benefit so that Kenya will realise more progress.”
The Team was produced with funding from UK's Department for International Development (DFID), who is also supporting productions of the series in 10 other countries in Africa and Asia, including Morocco, Côte d'Ivoire, and Nepal. UK International Development Minister Ivan Lewis said: "The Team' is a fantastic example how football, and sport in general, is a great uniting force for people around the world. Using soaps to reach out to the developing world is a fresh way of promoting peace and overcoming conflict. The UK's Department for International Development (DFID) has become a world leader for this sort of forward-thinking development project, and I hope projects like this will help bring people together to strengthen efforts towards peace in Africa.”
Ancillary activities to increase the outreach of the series will include:
- A nationally broadcast radio adaptation
- DVDs will be distributed to community groups, schools, religious groups and universities
- A viewer's guide for discussion groups
- Mobile cinema screenings in areas where television broadcasts are limited or unavailable. Each showing will be followed by a facilitated discussion.
- A music video, which will incorporate the theme music of the series and mirror its basic themes.
- Interactive SMS and e-mail feedback. At the end of each episode, viewers will be given a mobile telephone number and an email address to which they can send their feedback. These will enable rapid viewer responses on the impact of the series, as well as valuable data that can be used in the evaluation process.
Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground (SFCG) is an international conflict prevention NGO with offices in 18 countries. SFCG's vision is a world in which individuals, communities, governments and societies respond to their differences in non-adversarial ways, and where those differences stimulate social progress, rather than precipitate violence. Common Ground Productions, SFCG's media arm, has produced thousands of hours of TV and radio drama, news and features programmes, documentaries, reality shows, and call-in, round-table and magazine shows.
Media Focus on Africa (MFAF) is a Kenyan-Dutch NGO based in Nairobi, working in the field of communication for development. Its activities are based on the premise that free flow of information will build better informed societies on issues like development and democratisation. MFAF's goal is to strengthen the capacity for democracy and human development within societies in African through information exchanges, sharing of knowledge and facilitation of dialogue using media.
“On the football pitch, as in everyday life, cooperation, respect and tolerance are values that will make all of us real winners. The TV drama series The Team has managed to capture this philosophy in an informative, entertaining and eye-opening way.”
—Lord Triesman, Chairman, English Football Association (FA)
“The work that Search for Common Ground is doing, particularly through the groundbreaking television project, The Team, matches our aims. Football is a remarkable tool which can break down barriers, foster understanding, and teach people valuable lessons on a wide range of social issues.”
—Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive, Premier League
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Common Ground Productions
Deborah Jones, Executive Producer
1601 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20009, USA
Phone: +1 (202) 265-4300
Fax: +1 (202) 232-6718