detail - Media Programme Sub-Sahara Africa
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With the E-lection Bridge Africa in the spring of 2011, the Media Programme Sub-Sahara Africa had already launched a successful initiative on political communication in the region. Selected participants from eleven African countries as well as Germany met at the end of April/beginning of May for an international “election summit” in Ghana. Mozambique was represented in Accra by Lutero Simango, the MDM floor leader, who then instigated further activities in his country. The result: This latest event can be considered a continuation of the E-lection Bridge Africa in the southeast of the region. The programme was tailor-made, together with KAS Maputo, to the needs of the participants.
On the first day Markus Brauckmann, Director of the Media Programme, explained how video can contribute to successful political communication. In the victorious European and parliamentary election in 2009 he was in charge of the internet TV of the CDU. In the auditorium “Pemba” at the Universidade Catolica de Mocambique Brauckmann shared his experiences with the communicators and politicians of MDM. At the centre of his strategic approach was participation, mobilisation and access to the media, which is often made difficult or even impossible for opposition parties in southern Africa.
A practical example was then given by two young workshop participants who had documented the popularity of the democratic MDM among the people by filming videos at party election events. Needless to say, these were never shown in national state-run television. This example also demonstrated with what simple resources the (online) videos can be produced. “Everything we need, we already have here in this seminar room,” stated Brauckmann, “a laptop, an editing programme and a small camera.”
Based on the case study from CDU TV, the national party’s web-TV founded in 2007, the programme director explained the philosophy, strategy, possible applications, formats, impact and target groups behind this innovative communication tool. Brauckmann also emphasized that the approach from Germany can not be applied one-to-one in Mozambique. It is up to the MDM representatives to translate the chances inherent in video to the political reality in Mozambique. However, the last word was had by the dedicated “video youngsters” from MDM. Toward the end of the first day they presented a seminar video which they had filmed and edited in just a few hours. According to Daviz Simango, these efforts in the video sector should be continued and further developed.
On the second day the Portuguese-speaking media trainer, Daniel Walter, spoke to high-ranking representatives of the city administration about public communication. This was the concrete wish of the KAS partner MDM, specifically from the floor leader Lutero Simango, whose party has the municipal responsibility for Beira, a city of 500,000. Walter, who formerly worked for the United Nations, first focused on the basics of media communication. What is communication? Who do you want to reach? By which means is this possible? The media trainer approached the answer to these and similar questions according to three selected factors: target group, personal story and visual communication / photos.
Walter first explained that the various segments of society pursue their own interests and set priorities accordingly. Consequently, in one exercise the seminar participants had to determine which social groups exist locally and how they should be ideally addressed. The community of fishermen served as an example in the coastal city of Beira, tied to the question: Which political messages are relevant for this target group? And how can these messages be transported most directly? With what kind of language? And by which means?
Carefully selected stories are one suitable way to transport political messages, where politicians or communicators share personal experiences with the people, thus revealing their achievements and successes. Daniel Walter drew on practical examples, such as from an important speech by the US president, before asking the participants to formulate their own stories.
It is a well-known saying, but nevertheless true: “A picture says more than a thousand words.” This particularly applies to the modern world of communication. In Sub-Sahara Africa often only the political leaders are portrayed while the grass-roots efforts are neglected. This is a mistake, according to the media trainer at the KAS seminar. Drawing on selected photos, he demonstrated how efficient visual communication can be; how photos tell stories and relay messages to the people. Finally, cooperative group work was carried out with the aim of developing such ideas and approaches for one’s own local political work.
At the end of the E-lection Bridge Africa – South by Southeast Annette Schwarzbauer, KAS Country Representative for Mozambique and Malawi, assessed the seminar as “laying important groundwork” and, together with Markus Brauckmann (KAS Meda Africa), arranged to continue the joint effort in the field of political communication in Mozambique.