Home > Africa, Aid, Development, Nigeria > What if the Cookie Monster were Nigerian?

What if the Cookie Monster were Nigerian?

Asks Chris Blattman:

What if the Cookie Monster were Nigerian?

“What is so exciting about yams? Everything!” Zobi, a taxi-driving muppet, shouts in a Nigerian lilt to anyone who will listen. “I can fry the yam. I can toast it. I can boil it. I love yams!”

“Sesame Street,” once a mainstay for a generation of Nigerian children who grew up with the U.S. show on the state-run TV network, will return to screens in Africa’s most populous nation this fall, funded by American taxpayers but distinctively Nigerian.

The show  is to be renamed “Sesame Square”, but is also known around this blog as “possibly the greatest USAID intervention in history”. More here.

The muppets’ adventures take place between original recorded “Sesame Street” segments, re-dubbed with Nigerians voicing the parts of familiar characters like Bert and Ernie.

In the episode, Bert and Ernie run a 419 scam, with Governor Big Bird taking kickbacks.

Okay, so I made that last bit up.

More from the linked article:

Produced and voiced by Nigerians in formal — if squeaky — English, the show aims to educate a country nearly half of whose 150 million people are 14 or younger. Its issues focus on the same challenges faced by children in a country where many have to work instead of going to school: AIDS, malaria nets, gender equality — and yams, a staple of Nigerian meals.

"Nigeria is diverse; we have 250 different ethnic groups, so many different languages. We don’t have the same customs; we do think differently," executive producer Yemisi Ilo said. But "children are children. All children love songs and all children love furry, muppety animal-type things."

But also notes that:

"Sesame Square" still faces the challenge of winning a mass audience in a country where most people earn under a dollar a day. TV sets and DVD players aren’t enough; organizers bring generators to power them, in an oil-rich country whose national power grid is in shambles.

If these setbacks can be overcome- which they are trying to do by putting on shows in community centres where they can ensure there is electricity- it can prove to be a good way of reaching and teaching the young.

Just for fun:

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