Initiated in 2002 by the United Nations (UN) in Kenya in collaboration with all 24 UN agencies based in Nairobi, this multimedia communications strategy is centred on a prime-time television and radio soap opera called 'Heart & Soul'. Scripted, directed, acted, and produced by Kenyan talents in the film and television industry, the series explores social and development issues evoked by 5 key themes: HIV/AIDS, environment and natural disaster management, governance and human rights, poverty reduction, and gender issues. These issues, as well as the ordinary joys and trials of everyday life in Africa, are highlighted through focus on the rich "Meli" family and the poor "Karani" family. Heart & Soul's audience, which is potentially 50 to 75 million people across Africa, are the urban and rural, youth and adult population in Kenya and other Eastern Africa countries.
Communication Strategies: 

In July/August, 2002, the 6-episode pilot TV series was broadcast in Kenya through the national broadcaster (KBC), and in 11 other Anglophone African countries through the TV Africa Network. The pilot radio series, which used the same storylines as the TV programmes, was broadcast in Kiswahili in Kenya (KBC) and Tanzania (Clouds FM), and in English in Uganda (Super FM). The TV programmes were also distributed through Regional Reach, a network of community TV sets in Kenya, and through the Health Channel, a similar network with sets in hospitals and clinics.

A central component of this production process is capacity building and development of creative and production talent in Kenya. The development of the project's pilot phase followed the staging of a 2-day workshop in early February 2000 attended by Information and Communication officers and representatives of the UN Agencies in Kenya. Other participants included marketing, research, creative and production consultants drawn from Kenya's media industry. In July 2000, a workshop in Nairobi was held to for 16 Kenyan writers, identified from 55 applicants across Kenya. The purpose of this workshop was to lay the programme's creative foundations and select a story line and scripting team for the pilot series. These materials were then tested on rural and urban audiences in Kenya. Acting and directing capacity building workshops were conducted in August 2001 for 25 Kenyan actors and 6 Kenyan directors. Production of the pilot series commenced in April 2002 and involved a cast of 31 Kenyan actors and 80 Kenyan-based crew and production management personnel. Students from the Mohammed Amin Foundation, a Kenyan film and television production training school, contributed to the production process. Organisers hope that, by contributing to the development of the local industry, employment opportunities can be created and indigenous cultural creativity and values fostered and maintained.

Organisers planned to introduce complementary support media such as rural theatre road shows, billboards, newspapers, and youth education packs over the project's timeframe. Additional planned activities include a re-edit of the TV pilot series as a mini series (3 1-hour episodes), a dubbed/sub-titled version of the pilot TV series, 26 *-hour English TV programmes, 26 *-hour dubbed/sub-titled TV programmes (French), 52 *-hour English radio programmes, and 52 *-hour Swahili radio programmes.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Environment, Rights, Economic Development, Gender.

Key Points: 

Editor's note: In 2003, organisers put the project on hold; they were unable to continue beyond the pilot phase of Heart & Soul's first 6 episodes. In their words, "While we received a great deal of praise both for the high production standards of the pilot series as well as the nature of the programming, we
were simply unable to raise the necessary funds."

Partner Text: 

The pilot series was financed by a number of UN agencies, as well as donors including the Norwegian government, DFID-UK government, the Ford Foundation, the British Council, Beiersdorf EV (Nivea), Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, and Western Union (Helping Hands). In-kind production support was provided by Kenya Airways, Africa Air Rescue, Somak Travel, EARS Security Group, and Kergeles Restaurants. The TVAfricaNetwork was a partner in the World AIDS Day/Heart and Soul launch.


Email from Marie Graunboel to The Communication Initiative on November 4, 2002 (including an official press release, a TV and Radio Programme Tracking Study, dated September 2002, and a Phase II strategy and funding proposal); World AIDS Day Press Release forwarded by Marie Graunboel to The Communication Initiative on November 12 2002; email from Steve Jackson to The Communication Initiative on June 3 2005; and online summary of Heart & Soul.