Author: Gaure Mdee, October 26 2015 - With only three days to go before my country goes to the polls, the atmosphere in our office in Dar es Salaam is one of expectation, excitement and anxiety all wrapped into one.

For the past year, our team has been travelling the length and breadth of the country to produce Niambie ('Tell me' in Kiswahili). It's an interactive radio show that gives young people in Tanzania the information they need to take part in decision-making processes that affect their lives.

We know that young people like us are going to play a key part in what's going to be pivotal moment in our nation's history. According to the latest Tanzanian census figures, over 65% of people in Tanzania are aged between 15 and 35. So our votes are going to play a crucial part in Sunday's elections.

'Tell me'

BBC Media Action research conducted before we began production on Niambie found that young Tanzanians are quite keen to play a role in society but lacked confidence and knowledge about political issues and processes.

So this is where Niambie comes in. After taking advice from youth-focused UK stations like BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra and their news service Newsbeat, we use music, celebrities and entertainment to engage our audiences on air and online.

Each week, we invite two celebrities to join us in the radio studio who spread our message on their own social media accounts. And each week, we also pose a question or topic to our audiences, posting it on Facebook and in a radio promo aired on our partner network Clouds FM. Past questions we've asked have included "How important is the constitution to you?" and "What is the importance of voting?"

Listeners have told us that such topics on Niambie have inspired them to act. One teenage male listener who spoke to our research colleagues said, "When I listened to the topic on the importance of voting, I immediately went and became a registered member of a political party and got myself a membership card."

Celebrity guests

Big stars who have appeared on the programme recently include Tanzanian rapper Nick wa Pili who talked about how to pick a good leader and how it’s always good to ask yourself whether leaders' promises are realistic.

The response from the listeners was great: one listener told us, "I listened to the topic of an ideal leader last week with my friends and in the process of discussing it, I got to learn a thing or two from my friends. We discussed about our district and what kind of leaders we have…"

Another celebrity who has joined us is film actress Lulu. She picked one of our videos from our Facebook page and shared it on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which resulted in more than 170,000 views.

Our partner network Clouds FM has described the impact of Niambie as - in their words -"humongous" and have taken some of our topics, such as how to register to vote, and discussed them in their other programmes. They’ve even started adopting the style of our weekly promos in their output!

Turning point

While the result of the polls is far from certain, what’s clear is that audiences have been telling us they have learned a lot from Niambie in the run-up to election. Our latest research shows that young people think our programme is giving them courage, raising their confidence and motivating them to take actions on issues affecting their lives.

One young female listener, for example, told us "Through Niambie, I learned how to interact in the whole political process and it has motivated me to do something. This will be my first time to vote so I have learned that I have to attend campaigns and also [I've learned] that I have to vote so as to exercise my voting right as a Tanzanian."

Listen to Niambie in Swahili on Soundcloud.
Click here to access this BBC Media Action blog and related links on their work in Tanzania.
Image credit: BBC Media Action

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