To Beautiful Kigali with SAWBO Animations

by James Kamuye Kataru

Whenever Kenyan governors and politicians want to admonish their residents and encourage them to observe general environmental hygiene, they ask them to visit Kigali, Rwanda, and see what it means to have a lovely, neat city. Most speeches given while presiding over environmental concerns like the collection of garbage, planting trees, and banning plastic bottles are never complete without mentioning Kigali as an example of what things should look like. Having honed my mobilization skills in politics, I developed a habit of memorizing our leaders’ speeches and could ably predict when “Kigali, Rwanda” would be mentioned when certain politicians stood up.

On March 11th, 2023, I joined the SAWBO team in Kigali, where we facilitated workshops organized by the Rwanda Agriculture Board(RAB) and attended by various development partners. On the side-lines of the sessions, I had an opportunity to savor the beauty of an African city in a country that has undergone a total rebirth and is on a development trajectory that is not easy to match or compare to any other on the continent.

Investing in food security has reserved Rwanda lots of energy to focus on other factors of development, such as building the economy, guaranteeing social and political diversity, balancing gender, cultural, and religious persuasions, and environmental conservation. These being some of the thematic areas covered in SAWBO animation videos, we are proud to partner with the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and revolutionize the agricultural sector. In SAWBO animations, Rwanda, just like other African nations, has found the missing link to digitized solutions that offer the most common but vital practices needed by farmers.

SAWBO co-creator Dr. Julia Bello Bravo speaks to workshop participants. Photo credit: Desireri Rivuzimana

During the training sessions presided over by the Director General, Rwanda Agriculture Board(RAB) Dr  Telesphore Ndabamenye, participants voiced their excitement of SAWBO videos. They promised to ensure SAWBO content will be used by extension agents to maximize crop care and produce handling within local communities.

In the workshops, I encountered great Rwandan and Burundian minds with an extensive knowledge of their farmers network challenges and needs. I had great moments with extension service providers from both countries and enjoyed training them on how to access, download, watch and share SAWBO digital content. Both teams were eager to learn how to create and grow WhatsApp based networks that could register the level of success we have had in Kenya.

During session breaks, participants engaged me in discussions centred on how they can effectively turn their existing farmer’s networks into vibrant SAWBO content consumers and disseminators. I gave them several tips on forming, managing and expanding their WhatsApp groups. I also educated them on how to control chats, encourage members to speak freely, and make the process of sharing content as enjoyable as possible.

To our African networks, we urge you to use SAWBO animations extensively. Additionally, we encourage them to download the MP4 app from the Play store, install it on their phones, access the video library, and then download, watch, and share them widely. We took this message to Rwanda, where our network members have translated the animation videos into Kinyarwanda, their national language. There is a need for other African country-based networks to follow the example of Rwanda and translate animations into their local languages and dialects to benefit the farmers down in the villages.

The SAWBO animation videos have great content, encourage the use of locally available materials, and are free to share. Anybody with an internet ready phone can access, use, and share them with friends and family. They can also be shared via Bluetooth, saved on a flash disk, and played on a home TV. They are easy to interpret, brief, are to the point, and have great characters. This is what makes the animations great to watch!

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