Awards 1996 Cable and Wireless Award for Effective Communication

Cable and Wireless Award for Effective Communication

The Winner: The Radio Guild

Nearly nine million people, four fifths of those eligible, registered as voters for Tanzania's elections of 1995; and three-quarters of them voted. This was a great achievement in a largely rural country with little experience of contested elections.

Justice Ramadhani of the electoral commission gives much of the credit to a weekly radio magazine, Mnazi Mmoja, inspired by Jocelyn Mayne, a former BBC producer and trainer who is now director of the Radio Guild.

She took as her own inspirations Tanzania's founder president, Julius Nyerere (who saw radio's educational possibilities), and Lady Chalker, a keen advocate of liberal democracy in Africa. To these, she added the need to be in tune with the local background and to pursue the BBC tradition of objective reporting and questioning. A Radio Tanzania reporter, Selemani Mkufya, travelled by bus all over the country for Mnazi Mmoja, seeking local opinions and political news.

The Mnazi Mmoja series, in Swahili, explained why and how people, and particularly women, should register and vote and even stand for election. But it was not straight, timeless, civic education. It was a topical magazine. It interviewed party leaders and reported election news. It raised the concerns of voters who are often reluctant to speak their minds in discussion.

It included a soap opera, by Raphael Mbena, set in an imaginary village called Chilonge (Let's Discuss). It had animal fables by an English Tanzanian, Richard Mabala, a prize-winning writer of short stories.

The electoral commission was a little doubtful about these, particularly one about a rabbit, seen in Tanzania as a wily little animal. The commissioners thought it might resemble ex-President Mwinyi.

Another tale told of a toothless old lion who did not see why he should stand for election: he had always been leader. He is supplanted by the self-confident lioness who does all the hunting.

Mnazi Mmoja (One Coconut Palm) is the name of a dusty open space in Dar es Salaam that was used for political meetings during Tanzania's independence campaign. After that, Tanzania was for 30 years a single-party state.

Radio, heard by three quarters of the population, offered the best means of telling people what the new multiparty elections were all about. In doing so, it had to achieve independence. Mnazi Mmoja was produced - away from the state station, Radio Tanzania - in a studio set up in the British Council office.

Jocelyn Mayne was keen that it should be broadcast not just by Radio Tanzania but by private radios. Catholic and Lutheran stations broadcast it, but she could not persuade the pop station, Radio One.

The Radio Guild, which she represented, is a company set up in 1990 by a group of broadcasters as part of the international David Game group of colleges. It offers training in Britain (currently to 17 graduates and others seeking careers in radio) and overseas. Last summer she ran a course for election reporters in Zambia. Jocelyn Mayne joined the BBC from Cambridge, producing features, magazines and serials for radio, starting the In Touch series for blind listeners, and directing Jackanory and Play School for television. She gave up full time work to bring up her family, returning in 1985. As there was no job in production at Radio 4, she accepted the task of reviving the BBC's radio training for overseas broadcasters while producing as a freelance for the BBC World Service.

Radio training, she says, opened for her a new window on the world. Meanwhile, the BBC sent her on a course for trainers at Wolverhampton, where her fellow students were from construction and engineering.

She felt radio training should be part of aid and development, and so she used to take her students to see Chris Patten, when he was Minister for Overseas Development, and later Lynda Chalker. She also promoted radio drama to put across development messages. And she set up a club to link and support overseas broadcasters who had attended BBC courses since 1937.

In 1987 Anna Makinda of the president's office in Tanzania approached her about radio training and, as a result, Lynda Chalker agreed to pay for two Tanzanians to come for training. One was Edda Sanga, now a popular voice on Radio Tanzania, who played a leading part in Mnazi Mmoja.

When Jocelyn Mayne retired from the BBC in 1990, she agreed to go to Radio Tanzania for two months to train staff. The Commonwealth Relations Trust paid her fare, the Tanzanian government paid the hotel, and she agreed her salary would be a tour of national wildlife parks.

In 1993 she went back to train government information officers, on behalf of the Thomson Foundation.

The idea that Britain should provide aid for voter education came from Alice Walpole at the British High Commission. As consultant, Jocelyn Mayne canvassed the views of ministers, election officials, academics, actors, broadcasters, political parties and non-government organisations before proposing a series of topical radio magazines to prepare Tanzanians for the local elections in 1994. Besides Edda Sanga, she recruited another of her former students, Rose Haji, producer of a popular radio soap opera about health. Jocelyn's aim was to help the Tanzanian staff produce the magazine.

Success paved the way for the national-elections series. Radio Tanzania's chief engineer, Twaha Usi, describes it as excellent.

The Radio Guild, PO Box 2789, London NW1 7PW
Fax: 0171 383 3004