Twende na Wakati (Let’s Go with the Times)

Mkwaju, a highly promiscuous truck driver, has relationships with many women, drinks heavily, and chooses not to use contraceptives in any of his sexual relationships, placing him at high risk of contracting HIV or AIDS. His wife, Tunu, endures the stress of having a family with a man such as Mkwaju, who has the potential to spread diseases he may catch to her.

Shime and his wife Pili are friends with Mkwaju and Tunu, encouraging both of them to consider family planning methods to protect themselves from potential diseases or unwanted pregnancies. Shime, Pili and Tunu are influenced by Bina and her husband who have adopted good practices of communication and family planning and have found much success in their lives, while Mkwaju continues his “bad boy” ways.

Twende na Wakati aired nationwide throughout Tanzania from 1993 through 2002, totaling in a total of 676 episodes. This biweekly radio soap opera discussed multiple issues surrounding relationship and sexual health issues and ended with a 30-second epilogue at the end of each episode to review the key themes and encourage listeners to continue the discussions started in the show with friends and family.

At the time, Twende na Wakati was only the second communication campaign to promote two connected health issues of family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention using a single mass communication educational approach. This program came about as a result of  a 1992 national policy put in place by the Tanzania government that would greatly strengthen the national family planning program, including its information, education, and communication component. Through its Entertainment-Education model, Twende na Wakati was a key factor in spreading knowledge about family planning and disease preventative measures, while promoting discussion among community members to catalyze social change.

Radio Tanzania
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Community Development, Women Affairs, and Children

Twende na Wakati deals with numerous issues such as HIV/AIDS prevention, preventing unplanned pregnancies, and increased spousal communication. All of the themes are interconnected and are discussed emotionally by positive, negative and transitional characters, who became role models for the listeners to model their actions after.

We benefited a lot from the education through your program. Indeed, me and my husband are now actively participating in the use of family planning methods, and we see how family planning helps us have the children we want.”

Within Tanzania, radio is the most important source of HIV/AIDS information, and it has been a important medium in correcting the widespread misunderstandings about these diseases. By the end of broadcasting in 1997, a total of 85% of listeners cited this program as their source for AIDS education. In 1996, a reported 91% of men and 82% of women changed their sexual behavior to protect themselves as a result of the information the learned from the radio drama. There was also a large decrease in the acceptability of multiple sex partners among both men and women after the show aired. Studies of this program in relation to promotion of HIV/AIDS prevention shows that, across the board, individuals throughout Tanzania gained valuable information from the program, passed the information on to friends, and changed their behaviors to be safer themsleves.

Family planning was also a large component of Twende na Wakati, promoting self-efficacy, health clinic visits, and spousal/interpersonal communication. 97% of listeners reported in 1995 that they had learned about family planning through the show.   In 1995, 22% of listeners reported that they adopted family planning practices as a result of the program. Indicators of self-efficacy increased between 6 and 11 percentage points across the country. Also as a result of Twende na Wakati, 34% of listeners reported talking with a friend about issues covered in the show, and 23% discussed family planning efforts with their spouse/partner. By emulating positive characters who are role models of proper family planning methods promoted this discussion among couples throughout the country, ultimately resulting in more health clinic visits, a lowered birth rate, and a lessened average of children per woman.

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