100 Weeks in Mozambique

September 15, 2016

Radio Drama Strengthens Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

Ouro Negro was born in 2013 as the flagship program to promote UNICEF’s Facts for Life in Mozambique. It is now so popular that 70 radio stations across the country are airing the drama. Ouro Negro is the most reliable popular source of information on safe child health practices and family planning.

On August 24, Ouro Negro aired its 100th episode, earning it the spot as Mozambique’s longest running series. Its listenership had soared to 1.5 million.

The drama is set in the fictional town of Jambolane, a traditional African community confronted with the arrival of a foreign mining company. This clash of two worlds becomes the backdrop where tradition and modernity collide. Characters are woven through four major story arcs, focusing on the health practices of diffferent audiences: both rural and urban families, as well as adolescents. The mainstream success of the drama flies in the face of the notion that education cannot be both popular and entertaining.

One actor described its success, saying “people feel they are represented in the drama … The community says, this is our story. These stories touch the souls and hearts of people. If emotion grows in people, they’ll open their mind.”

One day, a member of the production team was in the car with his housekeeper, driving to the countryside. The radio murmured in the background. They were deep in conversation when the housekeeper suddenly stopped him, saying “let’s be quiet, boss. This is the drama I have to hear.” The team member laughed out loud, realizing that his housekeeper had no idea he was a producer on the hit show.