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Daladala seems more than a passing phase

Daladala seems more than a passing phase

Now its approaching three years since it has been doing the rounds, equipped with its’ cameras and microphones-bearing crew.

This seemed enough of a reason for the ‘Star’ to find out a little more about the intentions behind the actions that brought this vehicle out. What followed was a visit last Thursday, to the offices of the people running it, from the Victoria section of the City.

The bus itself was still out on its rounds so the space was used-up talking to the team’s Senior Researcher, Eugenia Chanda. During the short conversation she continually referred to this “Daladala” as being a show aired everyday at six in the evening on the “Independent Television (ITV)” channel. According to her all episodes focus on social issues, affecting the society from politics to health and education.

“Our aim is to educate society on different things, whether social or political. Everyday at six in the morning the bus goes out and picks-up people randomly of the streets. It takes them to their point of location, for example, Mwenge to Town. While they are on the bus they get the opportunity to discuss two topics. One of these usually has a lighter touch than the other,” she explained.    

Chanda said their point is basically to highlight things that really affect society. The idea is based on the observation that when people are invited to a studio for a discussion they don’t usually turn-up. So it was decided to take the studio, which is in the form of a commuter bus, to the streets; where people talk freely. She leads a team of researchers, who have to prepare facts, on the topics that the bus crew deals with, on a daily basis.

At this point of the conversation the Daladala show’s presenter, Daniel Kijo, walked into the office with a relieved expression on his face. They usually shoot everyday between six and nine o’clock in the mornings, so he was pleased that they had completed another day’s morning duties. Now it was to prepare for the broadcasting in the evening.  The actual recording time, he said, is probably an hour and a half because they have a pre-production session before setting out.

“Pre-production involves going through editorial, to make sure we have the right angles of approach. We also go through the researched data and talk to the director, so as to decide on the position from which we are going to work. This is to make sure we get the best out of our audience. Then we go out to the location. The actual recoding at the bus stop is about an hour and then after that, on the way back, we sometimes get views from people, who are on the bus. The whole process ranges from two to three hours,” he explained.

Being a founder member of the crew, Kijo has seen the original idea grow from one where people were not willing to even get on the bus, to coming on and contribute willingly to lively discussions. They have also moved from just plying the streets of Dar es Salaam to a national level, in that they now cover over regions. They have even been invited to the National Assemble, where they received a standing ovation from the Members of Parliament (MP’s). No wonder he says the show is “100 per cent” successful.   

A basic element, he added that has made the show successful is because it’s about the ordinary people. The everyday lives of Tanzanians, who initially were not given the opportunity before to speak out as freely. Prior to this everything had to be communicated through a “mouthpiece” of maybe a district commissioner, MP or minister. Now it is people like concrete workers, Mama antilie, mangi from the corner shop, a local teacher, just ordinary people, who carry the swing.

This is why they see themselves as supporting the constitution in the sense that they are giving locals an avenue to be heard directly. The crew of five consists of a director and driver in the front cabin, together with a presenter, comedian and roving cameraman in the main part of the bus. Added to this is seating to accommodate a maximum of twelve passengers comfortably.

The Cameraman, Deogratias Sizya told the ‘Star’ his biggest challenge is to keep the shaking of the camera to a minimum, bearing in mind that local roads are not designed with his needs in mind. However, he likes the way he is kept active from beginning to end, while learning things he would not have come in contact with, in normal filming sessions in studios or on stationary locations.

So as to make full use of all the time on the bus the director, Eldad Mark, has an on-location editing booth. He told the ‘Star’ that his biggest challenge is to wake-up early every morning and work continually at full capacity until evening when the show is broadcasted. Last but not least is Christian Mlanda aka Bibi Kiroboto, the Comedian. She is pleased that those early days, when her purpose of being on board was being misunderstood are over.

Then people only saw her as someone to make people laugh; now it is clear that she is an important part of the entire production. It must always be remembered that such characters were recognized as an integral part of African performances long before William Shakespeare started using them in his plays.

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Mwandishi: IMAN MANI

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