Tanzanian Plans to Inspire Youth to Vote

Join Chedi on the video #YALICHAT Engaging Youth in the Democratic Process on Wednesday, February 25th at 1400 UTC.

Chedi Ngulu (State Dept./Dartmouth)
Chedi Ngulu. Photo Courtesy: State Dept./Dartmouth

Chedi Ngulu has big plans for young people in Tanzania. The 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow and YALI Network member in Dar es Salaam wants to use popular music and technology to inspire the new generation of Tanzanians to participate in their country’s upcoming constitutional referendum and general elections and to help build long-term and sustainable democracy and peace.

To do that, Ngulu will implement #PigaChata (formerly #AHADI), a voter education and turnout campaign. Through the campaign, he wants Tanzania’s youth to sign a pledge that they will “vote responsibly in 2015” for both the referendum and elections. They can either sign the pledge in-person or online, Ngulu says.

The head of MegaMark Communications has a passion for communications, media, business and music. Already he has led several major commercial and social marketing campaigns for companies, government and international organizations and has organized major events like concerts and conferences.

#PigaChata, slang for “leave a mark,” is modeled after the successful “Rock the Vote” campaign in the United States launched in 1990 to motivate American youth to participate in the electoral process. Rock the Vote is the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in the United States driving youth to the polls.

#PigaChata will target those between ages 18 and 25, focusing on four major cities: Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza and Zanzibar. It will recruit well-known and up-and-coming hip-hop artists to collaborate on a signature campaign song that promotes responsible civic engagement, with a focus on registering and voting. All recordings will be pushed for play on radio and television. College debates, town hall meetings and grass-roots engagements will expand on campaign awareness.

Digital media makes one of the most important components of this campaign. Social media — especially Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube — will be used intensely, and thanks to U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) funding, #PigaChata is working on a voter education and information mobile app that will also feature an interactive SMS platform.

Ngulu also has plans for a series of free, public concerts in each of the target areas with artists touring local schools and hosting town forums to engage youth. “The concerts, music and art competition events will draw out people so that we can sign up large groups at once,” he says.

Ngulu notes that 65 percent of Tanzanians are under age 24, and there are over 6.6 million Tanzanians between ages 18 and 24. “This age cohort alone has the potential to determine the next president of Tanzania,” he says.

The campaign will also reach young people who are not old enough to vote, Ngulu adds. These youth “will be impacted by the messaging, allowing us to plant seeds in future voters,” he says.

A survey of youth after 2010 elections, during which voter participation was nearly half of what it was in 2005, reinforced the need for a strong outreach campaign “that both educates young Tanzanians about their voting rights and the registration process and that also inspires them to be more engaged,” according to the businessman.

He notes that the campaign will also support the goals of the national and Zanzibar-region strategies for growth and the reduction of poverty, greater citizen participation in democratic governance, and improving democratic institutions and national unity.

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