This paper is aimed at discussing the way in which TFD (Theatre for development) is used in Swaziland where people have to struggle with such difficulties as HIV pandemic, poverty, inequality, and sexual abuse of women. The use of TFD workshops is helpful for promoting good qualities of the community and highlighting many of the social problems. Moreover, this approach is critical for understanding the underlying causes of difficulties that people can encounter on a daily basis.
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This method has already been adopted in various African countries such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, or Kenya. Volunteers and social workers began to apply these techniques three decades ago. Yet, in Swaziland, this practice is relative new. Thus, it is necessary to determine whether these TFD workshops correspond to the principles discussed during the class. Overall, it is possible to argue that these performances can increase people’s awareness about the social problems affecting their communities.
Apart from that, they encourage people to change some aspects of their behavior and re-evaluate many of their worldviews and stereotypes. Yet, they do not prompt the spectators to examine conflicting arguments or views. Furthermore, more attention should be paid to the empowerment of individuals, especially women who are usually underprivileged both social and economically. So, the principles of TFD are only partly followed. These are the main questions that should be discussed more closely.
TFD workshops in Swaziland and the main principles of this approach
At first, one should focus the transformative effects of TFD. To some degree, it is aimed at changing some of the beliefs and values of individuals. This is one of the main principles that should be kept in mind. These people should believe that they are able to bring improvements into the live of the community. At present, the workshops, which include both songs and plays, increase people’s awareness about the risks of HIV infection.
This task is critical for reducing the pandemic of this disease in this country. This is one of the most acute problems that Swaziland currently faces. This issue is addressed during the Siphocosini Youth Group TFD Workshop. In particular, these people show that HIV patients can be victimized by the society. In most cases, they are marginalized by others. As a result, the spread of this disease is not reduced in any way.
However, there is a significant limitation. In particular, this TFD performance does not show how individuals should act in order to minimize the risk of HIV transmission and make sure that children are not exposed to this threat. They only speak about the shortage of financial resources or lack of governmental attention to this problem, but they do not show how people’s lifestyles should change or what ethical decisions that they should take.
This question is not examined during this workshop. This shortcoming should not be disregarded because TFD workshops are primarily aimed at changing the ethical decisions of individuals, rather than entire societies. Certainly, this process is very time-consuming, but it is vital for bringing improvements into the lives of people. In a country like Swaziland, the use of strategy can support the needs of many individuals and groups. This is one of the issues that can be singled out.
Secondly, it is vital to speak about conscientisation which is also an important element of TFD. This process means that a person is encouraged to think critically and place themselves in the position of other people.
This activity is also critical for brining improvements into the life of the community because individuals are less likely to harm others if they fully understand the problem encountered by others. This issue is addressed by TFD practitioners in Swaziland. In particular, many young people in this country create plays which show that people with HIV may be the victims of rape, and they are usually treated only as outcasts by their neighbors or even relatives.
This is one of the details that should be taken into account. Overall, conscientisation is important for demonstrating that marginalization of people creates a vicious circle that prevents a society from achieving progress. This issue is particularly important for Swaziland where the spread of this disease can be explained by people’s unwillingness to support people who have HIV.
The main goal of conscientisation is to promote empathy or understanding the feelings of others because in such a way, communities can support underprivileged individuals who are not usually able to voice their discontent with the policies of the government or existing social norms. In turn, TFD workshops prompt many people to put themselves in the position of these individuals.
Moreover, one should pay attention to the active participation of spectators in performances because effective TFD workshops should be based on this principle. In particular, the viewers should not isolate themselves from people who are portrayed in the plays. This is one of the goals that can be attained with the help of TFD.
In particular, practitioners of TFD should prompt the audience to express their views on a particular problem and offer their recommendations or suggestions. This is one of the aspects that can be distinguished. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about Zibonele TFD workshop. People, who organized this performance, presented a certain story and encouraged viewers to provide their recommendations to the actors.
The audience also participated in this performance by responding to the questions that the actors posed. For example, some members of the audience said people should not be afraid of taking HIV tests because it is not possible to turn a blind eye to this threat. Moreover, they noted that people should not conceal their HIV status from their relatives because in this way, a person could only contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDs in the country.
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To a great extent, this strategy encourages the viewers to re-evaluate some of their perceptions on the norms of behavior. For instance, Swaziland, young people are often reluctant to speak about their HIV status. In turn, the practitioners of TFD in Swaziland were able to change their attitudes toward this problem. Thus, these workshops fully comply with this principle of TFD. This is one of the points that can be made.
Another important issue is that TFD should put to an internalized oppression. Many people do not have the authority to address social problems. People, who practice TFD in Swaziland, attempt to reach this objective.
Yet, some of their strategies can be questioned. For instance, there are several performances, which can show why many people become exposed to the risks of HIV. In particular, the actors highlight the importance of using the services of professional medical workers, rather than healers who are more likely to expose people to put the health of patients at risks.
Additionally, these plays show that Swazi women are exposed to the threat of rape. More importantly, this phenomenon is not regarded as something outrageous. However, the practitioners of TFD do not prompt women to depart from conventional gender roles according to which they have to accept the authority of males without any question.
They are not encouraged to become more independent. In other words, the developmental needs of these women are not properly examined. This is one of the drawbacks that can be singled out. This task should be an important element of TFD workshops, especially in a country like Swaziland. Thus, the organizers of TFD workshops need to pay more attention to this problem while developing their future strategies.
Conflict resolution is another element which is important for TFD. Such workshops are supposed to show how people, who have conflicting values or priorities, can resolve their disagreements. In order to attain this goal, one should present the views of conflicting people and prompt these people put in the position of one another. However, this goal was not attained by the performers.
For instance, they did not prompt men and women to discuss the most significant family problems such as abuse, stigmatization of many women, or absence of employment opportunities.
By engaging the spectators into this discussion, TFD practitioners can help people understand many social or family conflicts. This is one of the details that should not be disregarded by social workers or other people who want to improve the living conditions in various Swazi communities. This principle of TFD is useful for challenging many of the conventions and stereotypes that exist in the community.
One can say that Swaziland is a country which has to struggle with many economic, political, and social problems. They can be attributed to various factors such as the functioning of governmental organizations or economic inequalities. However, it is not possible to overlook behavioral norms adopted in this country because individuals become alienated from others.
The five elements of TFD are useful for addressing many problems such as the marginalization and victimization of women. These are the main difficulties that should be considered by community leaders, social workers, and policy-makers who should focus on the factors that slow down the development of Swazi society.
Overall, this discussion suggests that the adoption of TFD can help many communities in Swaziland. In particular, this method is important for understanding the experiences of people who can struggle with poverty, discrimination, or ostracism. Moreover, such workshops should prompt to evaluate their behavior and identify the most appropriate course of action.
TFD organized in Swaziland attain these objectives. Yet, there are certain shortcomings that should not be disregarded. First of all, these workshops do not emphasize the need to resolve or at least explain existing conflicts or disagreements. As a result, people are not able to place themselves in the position of others. Secondly, more attention should be paid to the empowerment of individuals who are often treated as pariahs by others. These are the main arguments that can be put forward.