‘Farming life makes perfect radio drama’
For the three writers of the radio serial drama, Kumekucha, it has been a journey of discovery into Tanzania’s farming heartland.
Script editor Cece Mlay and her writers Amina Lukanza and Kheri Mkhali began this journey at a two-week workshop in Dar es Salaam in March 2016 where content experts unpacked the role of women and youth in agriculture.
Experts from government and non-governmental agencies shared rich experiences of farming life in Tanzania, full of facts and research, videos on horticulture, sectoral innovations, policy and extension services, markets, pricing, crop and produce distribution, as well as anecdotal and first-hand testimony that yielded a wealth of information about life in the countryside. The workshop revealed not just the massive economic potential in Tanzanian agriculture, but the rich store of drama that resides in farming communities.
“Farming life is rich with story. It’s perfect for radio drama,” says head writer Cece Mlay.
The writers went to the heartland to find out how it is that some of the richest parts of the country still give rise to poverty and malnutrition. Armed with local knowledge, they set about “conjuring up a world that seemed unfamiliar at first, but could be relatable” to our audience in the countryside.
They created a fictional town like any village in the fertile SAGCOT region, and called it Lunyanja. They mapped the village with its council warehouse, small market, winding road through hills and the snaking Makeke River. They described in detail the daily lives and environment of the main characters. They worked out the prevailing winds and which direction the rain comes from. They developed a community of larger-than-life characters living the challenges, joys and letdowns of rural life.
Then, the writers fell in love with their characters’ life-stories.
“This is a drama about people who struggle with themselves and with the land, and their desire to come out on top,” says Cece Mlay.
“We’re having a good time telling this story,” says Amina Lukanza. “We hope that this is reflected in the quality of the finished product.”