ARDA Heads North for Production

Earlier this month, ARDA travelled to two Northern Nigerian cities- Bauchi and Sokoto- to produce content for the Northern Educational Initiative Plus (NEI+) programme.

The initiative seeks to do is strengthen local systems to increase the number of students enrolled in appropriate, relevant and approved educational options, particularly for girls and underserved children in target locations and improve reading outcomes for primary grade learners in the target locations.

If you remember we facilitated the treatment design workshop for this in early April helping the stakeholders script the various radio and interactive skits and content. Now it was time to bring these scripts to life.

Normally, we do recordings at our studio in Lagos, or up in Kaduna, for some of our Hausa programmes. This time though, we really wanted to be authentic. A non-Hausa speaker might not be able to tell the difference between the regional accents but the target audiences certainly would. We all felt that the message would be stronger if it came from voices from the target communities.

Two of our programme staff- Project Coordinator, Rebecca Ojedele and Programme Officer, Ajemina Ogan- were in charge of the production. Ms. Ojedele handled the Bauchi production, while Ms. Ogan was in charge of Sokoto.

It was a whole new experience for our intrepid travellers especially Ms. Ogan who had never been that far north before. It was also her first ARDA trip alone although that wasn’t so bad as “everyone was really friendly,” she said.

“I really gained a lot of experience on the trip,” she said. “For instance, we had to recast a lot of the voice actors, and hold auditions and I was in charge of all of that.” She said she had to be part drill sergeant, part cheerleader. “Sometimes I had to be firm, and other times I had to be very encouraging.”

Ms Ojedele was in charge of the Bauchi production, she said it was a bit different from previous production trips in Kaduna. “Even though I am a veteran of multiple ARDA productions, every production is different- facilities, cast and all that, so you just have to be dynamic and flexible and be ready to use what you find on ground,” she said. It was a mindset that served her well getting things set up.

The productions were also different in what we were producing. We were producing different kinds of radio products, not just radio drama. “We also produced IVR (interactive voice recording), Drama Skits, Jingles,” Ms. Ojedele said. “There are slight differences in the way the voice-actor reads the script for a drama and for an IVR,” she explained.

Ms. Ojedele felt we’d done the right thing by going on-location. “In development, the message you’re passing is always more acceptable, more relatable if it’s coming from your own people.”

All in all, it was a productive trip, and hopefully the audience are enthralled and inspired by it.

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