What is nicer than breaking monotony during events, trainings or community outreaches and additionally communicating creatively and vividly to an audience to bring a message home? Education through entertainment, that’s the powerful formula of edutainment and the mission of the Kesho Edutainment Youth Group. Through their skits, edutainment group cackles up their spectators, entertain them — and also give them a serious message to take home.
Creating employment opportunities
The theatre group was revived in 2018 and it is under the Youth Development program at Kesho Kenya. “We could kill two birds with one stone”, says programme officer Lilian Mbula. Kesho sought to empower and support talented youth to gain theatre skills hence create employment opportunities. Additionally, through the edutainment performances, Kesho Kenya, its programs and projects as well as other organisations or institutions can reach out to communities on sensitive issues in an entertaining way. “Thanks to our network, we can get gigs for the Edutainment Youth Group. When members go and perform in communities or at events, we facilitate their transport and offer them a small stipend.” Moreover, they get trainings, e.g. on perfecting their skills or conflict resolution. “Thus the members can avoid issues with one another leading to conflict.”
Spreading the wings
Edutainment Youth Group, barely one-year-old, is on the way to spreading its wings to becoming independent. It all started with the group’s participation and success in the “Youth Extravaganza” talent festival in August 2018 in Malindi. The team emerged position three in a skit they performed. “We didn’t expect to win an award in this competition,” said Samuel Garama, the leader of the group. It was their confidence, creativity, humour and how they owned up to their respective characters which convinced the adjudicators.
Performances during local and national events
Currently, Edutainment Youth Group is known beyond Kilifi town. Its members have performed locally and nationally. Through their work, they transform and enlighten societies on the emerging social and environmental issues, e.g. teenage pregnancy, positive parenting, commercial sexual exploitation of children or countering violent extremism in communities. At present, the group has 12 members of different age and background working together to develop, write and perform their skits and songs
Their humour makes people cackle up
What’s their recipe for a successful skit? “We combine action research and participatory theatre to sensitise and educate communities”, says Samuel Garama. The team starts on a piece by choosing a topic based on real issues affecting the community. Then they draw a story of a cast which summarises the situation in all aspects. “Everyone is given a specific character, and each of us embody it with his or her own words. To create humour, we exaggerate action and movements and make funny comments. People cackle up while we pass powerful transformational messages through spoken word, songs, poetry and plays.”
“Fulfilling, fun and contributing”
Why does the team like edutainment? “Very simple, using art to educate is fulfilling, fun and contributing to our own, other people’s and communities’ growth and development”, explains Samuel Garama. “Through performing in front of crowds, we have gained lots of confidence. Furthermore, it has helped us to explore and discover our hidden talents. It’s a chance to interact with different personalities and explore new places.”
Edutainment Youth Group uses theatre as an interactive tool to identify and channel information from communities to government, development organizations, and other decision-making bodies. Their skits ignite debates within communities and amongst stakeholders in the area.