Raising awareness through radio drama: Zimachitika mini-series

The University of Malawi is advancing its national development outreach focus by offering social development communication initiatives to include people with disabilities in the society. Through awareness campaigns, such as radio drama series, the university demonstrates that disability is not inability. Parasport Against Stigma (on people with disabilities) - PSAS - a collaborative research project between Loughborough University and UNIMA’s School of Arts, Communication and Design, held an edutainment drama mini-series production script reading with various beneficiaries in Blantyre on 15th June, 2024. The meeting was led by the Executive Dean of the School, Dr. Mufunanji Magalasi. Among the attendees were the President of the Malawi Paralympic Committee, Mr. James Chiutsi, as well as scriptwriters, artists, and producers from Story Workshop, and other participants.

Dr. Magalasi mentioned that he identified high levels of stigma against people with disabilities in Malawi, and the idea behind the Zimachitika mini-series was to create awareness about issues of disabilities, parasport, and disability sport, aiming to increase participation in the Paris 2024 games. The University of Malawi will produce a play addressing the stigma faced by people with disabilities and demonstrating that people with disabilities can participate in sports, both locally and internationally, at high levels, such as the Paralympic Games. The meeting aimed to appreciate the script of the mini-series and to discuss how best to deliver the drama on radio. “Before presenting it to the audience, it was important for everyone involved, including those with disabilities, to read the script and listen to the episodes,” Dr. Magalasi said.

During the meeting, participants provided input and feedback on language use and content, ensuring that the series is both accurate and respectful. Chiutsi commended the Dean for using drama and radio as a means to deliver the message.

“We believe that drama is capable of making people understand regardless of their education level, as it is a language that can easily be understood by a cross-section of people” Chiutsi said. “Radio has a wider reach and is a traditional means of communication followed by many people. We believe that the reach through this platform will be broader.” 

The University of Malawi, Loughborough University, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and the Malawi Paralympic Committee have been implementing the Parasport Against Stigma programme for people with disabilities from 2020 to 2024. This initiative is funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) through the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDIH) at University College London.

The meeting concluded with remarks from Dr. Magalasi, who expressed appreciation to all the participants for their feedback and mentioned that the mini-series is expected to be aired on Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Radio 1 and other community radio stations before the start of the 2024 games.