Building Intercultural partnerships with SAWBO content

by James Kamuye Kataru

For the last four years I have been working with SAWBO as a knowledge manager, I’ve interacted with people from different cultures, religions, and social standing. 

Right from Kenya, where we have about 44 tribes and several dialects, to other African countries with varied social composition, I’ve made one outstanding discovery, as much as we are united by religion we are also united by the food we grow, how we harvest, and how we prepare and consume this food.”   

United by common food practices

Watching our people from different communities and nations in Africa handle their food on the farm, place it in storage facilities, and use standard practices on preparation for serving at dinner tables, you will agree with me that basic practices unite us, passed to us by our ancestors. SAWBO captures this in detail, improves via scientific research, package into digital content, translates into our local languages and dialects, and provides free of charge for humanity to adopt.

Understanding how communities farm makes our volunteers’ work easy. It helps establish the entry point for SAWBO animation videos. Through this understanding, perceptions have been changed, and beliefs disapproved by scientific data and facts.

For example, in some cultures, women were not allowed on bean, groundnut and Bambara nut farms because the belief was that the crops would not flourish. SAWBO content has helped debunk these beliefs and myths and brought a clear understanding of what works or doesn’t work well on our farms. Our women are now free to weed, inspect and go through their farms without fear of reprimanding.

Uniting with communities around farming and food production has helped our volunteers fight hunger, improve agricultural practices, help ensure a steady supply of fresh, nutritious food, and reduce farmers production costs. Our volunteers have also reduced the pressure on government extension service providers since farmers now share educative SAWBO content using WhatsApp over their phones.

To give a clear explanation of how we work in Kenya and other African countries, I will use this diagram.  

Image describing the main functions in an approach used by Kataru Concepts Africa and the volunteer network in managing SAWBO content within communities of origin. Image by Kataru Concepts

At every level, we collaborate with community elders and leaders, local government administration, religious leaders, government extension service providers, and traders of a given community.

1.  Development: We visit communities and work with elders, government extension service providers, farmers, leaders, traders, caregivers, and other members we know can benefit from SAWBO animation videos. All activities are documented in the form of published blogs at

2.  Translation: We translate SAWBO animation videos into local languages and dialects using volunteers from targeted communities. This helps us bond and create strong relations. It makes the dissemination process enjoyable and fully-owned by the community.

3.  Training: After translating the animations, we organize online and one-on-one training sessions. These are done by our network volunteers within the communities. These sessions are held in church buildings, community halls, and in farmers’ homes. We use smartphones to demonstrate the accessing, downloading, watching, and sharing of the videos, and TV screens to demonstrate how to watch the animations stored on flash disks.

4.  Extension: To enhance “farmer-to-farmer” education, our teams of volunteers make frequent farm visits to communities previously trained. This follow-up helps to check the uptake and implementation of video knowledge.

5. Dissemination of content: The dissemination of content across our networks is done during online and “one on one” training sessions, in the following pathways;

a.      WhatsApp groups

b.      X formerly Twitter

c.      Facebook

d.      Bluetooth

6. Networking: During our interactions with different communities, we create long-lasting friendships around farming, health, conservation, and other matters of common interest. For example, after a training session, we keep communicating with each other, sharing experiences and challenges, markets for produce, government-issued alerts, etc. All our members with smartphones are added to WhatsApp groups formed specifically for their regions. These groups facilitate the dissemination of animation videos in a big way.

Our networks are not only built for SAWBO content. Members from other countries use them for cultural exchange purposes. With a total of 20 WhatsApp groups that have farmers, traders, health service providers, students, enthusiasts, and professionals from different backgrounds, our network is managed from one main group which serves as a melting pot for different cultures and practices from 22 African countries. These countries include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Zambia, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Madagascar, Liberia, and Lesotho where we have a presence and Cameroon, South Africa, South Sudan, Botswana, and Senegal where we are in the process of starting networks.

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