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Nigeria is well known for its soap opera stars. There is a glut of African soap operas coming out of this country and the folks here love to watch them.   I was just at the airport saying good bye to a friend, when a flurry of short skirted hysterical women ran across the parking lot screaming “Rosh, Rosh!” A sunglass clad young African hipster was soon surrounded by a group of arm extending, camera holding admirers jostling for their personal picture of this famous young man.
Like these admirers, I too can appreciate good acting. In fact I have just witnessed some fantastic stagecraft – real Nigerian soap opera quality.
The hygiene training portion of our well restoration program has recently experienced a bit of a facelift. We decided to add some drama to the presentation to get participants on their feet and keep things, as the Liberians would say, lively. I was a bit hesitant about the idea to start, but once the well team started practicing I sensed we were on the right track. My original concern was that people would be too reserved to get up and start acting out scenerios, but that definitely was not the case.  We just finished our first run through of the “enhanced” program with a community and they LOVED it. No one hesitated for a second.
We had people jumping up to play a part and dragging out the scene for as long as possible. Mr. Lagree, a farmer and the head of one of the larger families in the area, played the star role in as many dramas as possible.  “Oh my well is broken, what will I do!” he’d cry out, while holding his head in his hands, shaking it back and forth in a demonstration of deep concern. It was fun to watch, engaging for everyone involved and we all had a good laugh.
We are always striving to make our programs the best they can possibly be and these changes are definitely making that intention a reality.  I’m already looking forward to our next village to see who the next soap opera star might be. The idea is to train people as community well technicians but I think stardom in Nigeria may soon call them away….