Babies coming early

Liz: Hi all this is Chris and Liz again from the FoRel project

Young girls fishing on the Swahili coast, December 2017

A project which aims to explore perceptions of climate change on the Kenyan and Mozambican coast from the perspective of communities experiencing it firsthand. We specifically look at climate change as connected to the multiple other challenges that occur along these tropical coastlines which can affect social-ecological wellbeing and natural resource management. The project uses a framework based on relationality, which puts relations rather than objects or things at the centre and sees human and environmental networks of relations as inseparable and under constant change. Community forum theatre, focus groups and interviews were used as methods over the past two years with fishers, seafood traders, shop owners, food vendors and other types of people living on the East African coast in low-income settings. 

I’m Liz, a researcher supporting and learning in this project at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. And this is Mr Chris Cheupe, our main man in Kenya leading and developing this project. This is our third story in the storytelling series Tales of Change from Kwale Coast.  And it’s also the last narrative that came out of the fieldwork in Kenya that was centred around social issues. It is very much linked to the first two stories Them youths got no discipline and Digital Times. The many stories about early pregnancy that research participants wanted to discuss were embedded in the ideas of modernity or the digital times that we are now in and with the lack of discipline with the youth. So the three stories very much come together under a broader narrative about societal change universally experienced. Our next stories in this series will jump into the ecological narratives that were built up with participants’ stories in the field. Over to Chris! 

Hi, my name is Christian from Wildlife Conservation Society, Kenya and the FoRel project. Together with Liz we are going to tell you a story. The story is based on the findings of FoRel work done Msambweni (Kwale County, Kenya). It is a true reflection of the community and its social problems. The title of this story is “Babies Coming Early”. 

Babies coming early!

“Her dreams will be dead”

The main characters are the young girls of Msambweni, the secondary characters are the boys who impregnate them.

Background: Women are giving birth earlier now, early pregnancy is a trend and it’s not a good thing. It emerged in the 80s when boys and girls started to sit together in class, we sat three people at a desk, until the curtain of shyness was removed, there was now no respect for each other. Family planning is now available, injections and condoms were not available to Grandparents generations, they were waiting for their time, but now with family planning, Girls in class 6 will be educated about it. They think now they have access to contraception, which is the fault of the government, they think they can be free. Without school because of Covid, 80-90% of girls are behaving badly. Currently the village is full of pregnant girls, when schools reopen they are parents too! Due to corona they have no place to go or job to do. Mobile phones allow girls to interact with boyfriends on whatsapp or facebook, they can also see dirty things, phones contribute. Also the homestead, if a girl has no job or her personal needs are not taken care of, she will look for a boy to support her. Parents don’t push their children to school or madrasa. 

The conflict: This family planning education is affecting the girl’s discipline. She can now play the game without getting pregnant. The Government, with family planning is promoting sex. The government is handing out condoms- are you promoting sex or what? Because the girl uses family planning then she plays the game and there comes a time, after knowing someone then you stop using it, then there is the problem. In the past they were waiting for the right time, now they don’t even complete school. Children nowadays are not serious with education. People are married younger, you will find a child has a child. Now there is freedom, there is no religion denying men to sit with women. We poor have had our children with us during corona, the children are affected two times over, they don’t go to school, they don’t stay indoors, they come to the beach and do things that they were not doing. The rich study online. Girls can lie today about where they go and can be found at the beach with a man and in three to four days pregnant. If they find a boy to support them with some money, the boy wont give freely, he will demand sex and if you accept you will get pregnant. Most men nowadays want working women who can look after them, those men with money want girls or women to destroy or misuse for their own interest. They, the girls, cannot move ahead, they get early pregnancies and become Mama Karangas. Early pregnancies help you to work and do fish trading, that’s why we are selling fish. Unfortunately it’s the girl who will bear the responsibility and her life will be destroyed. 

Resolutions: Schools need to be opened. Family planning must be removed, it makes people feel the urge. When a girl is found pregnant only the man is arrested, they should both be arrested and put in jail for ten years, that would be better. Phones are not good for pupils. If your child is missing at home you need to reason where they are at all times. If the child gets a chance they use it. The madrassa will help us. Parents, let’s be strong in taking care of our children. All things we leave to god, we can only talk and warn our girls. Let them see that getting pregnant from a young boy will not help her. Rules from the village chief must be implemented, whoever is caught in the act should have action taken against them. All night celebrations need to be stopped also. We can use the BMUs (beach management units that manage the fisheries locally in Kenya) to stop our children, if we cooperate, all beaches, we can stop them coming. They need jobs and school.

(Note: This narrative comes directly from the voices of those in Msambweni and was arranged into this structure by us to present an accessible tale of the changes coastal communities experience today, how they view and understand them plus what solutions they see.)

Listen to the episode here:

Them youths got no discipline

Liz: Hi all this is Chris and Liz again from the FoRel project, which stands for Forum Theatre to enhance joint agency in Kenya and Mozambique: towards relational understandings of climate change. In more simple words, this project aims to put together Forum Theatre performances with people who live in coastal East and Southern Africa as a means to provide the space for them and their friends, neighbours, families, communities, to think about, act out, discuss, dispute, and maybe take action on the climatic, natural, social and economic changes happening around them, with them and/or through them. I’m Liz, a researcher supporting and learning in this project at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. And this is Mr Chris

Recording time!

Chris: Yea my name is Chris from Wildlife Conservation Society in Kenya, for the FoRel project, I am the research assistant. I’ve been involved in data collection, also transcription of the interviews that were done and also participated in coding and assisted in analysis of the findings.

 Liz: As we introduced this storytelling series before (check the first episode or post on the website) I won’t blab too much again, but just to say that these stories came naturally out of fieldwork that Chris led back in 2021 in Kwale county in Southern coastal Kenya. How many interviews did you end up doing again?

Chris: 67 with four focus group discussions. We managed to talk to Fishermen, Mama karangas (female smaller-scale fisher traders), Fish dealers, Food vendors, Shop traders, Boat operators and some community and local leaders. 

Liz: Great, so all of these people, from the interviews and the focus groups you were able to collect the conflicts,  challenges and the changes that are going to be and are being used in the Forum Theatre scripts.

So these little stories we are telling now, the Series is called Tales of Change from Kwale Coast, they are basically straight from participants mouths, I just changed around the structure a little bit. So in each story we have our 

  • Main character(s),
  • We have a little Background of the cause/the cause of the conflictual issue,
  • Then the conflict itself,
  • And then the Resolutions that different people suggested during the interviews and focus groups

Theatre training & discussions 2020

This story today is called “Them youth got no discipline”, it involves drug use, discipline, caning, morals and respect. It is a mix of the qualitative coding of these interview and focus group transcripts from Kwale involving generational, behavioural and traditional conflict codes as well as the social changes that people talked about.  

Our main characters are the young people of Kwale, both genders. So this problem with youth discipline, for me, is a tale as old as time, these generational tensions, I guess because it stems from human behaviour, social, familial, individual, how different generations view each other, so of course it will repeat through the ages. It’s interesting to hear how it’s articulated in different places and times, but it has been incorporated into the theatre scripts and will be given back to or performed back to the communities in question for them to discuss- right Chris?

Chris: Yes so far it’s very good, two scripts have been developed and been given to a professional theatre group, Matuga Arts Troupe and the other being the Mswambweni community group which has been trained by Matuga Arts to do Forum Theatre. They are now already have managed to do some performances for school going children. We are waiting to do a grand performance at the community level.  

Liz: Great! So you can take it away with our story

Chris: Wow this is super cool, as you have been informed by my friend Liz our story is called ”Them youth got no discipline”

“Whatever happens to the kids affects us all.” 

Background: Big changes are with the youth. The kids used to be taught morals and values which lead to positive living but this has become rare. Children have rights nowadays, there are human rights, they are not punished. Children can’t be caned anymore which means there is no punishment, so there is lack of discipline. Children can now sue you, this has afforded children freedom. So now parents can’t question and they are almost afraid. The government has contributed to this. When the hotels were built, the land changed and new behaviours arrived here. 

The conflict: Discipline has been reduced, this has a big impact. For example if you pass an old man carrying a big bag or luggage you should assist him, that’s what our culture entails, if you do wrong he has the right to punish you the youth, when the youth gets home his or her parents will punish them too, because of disrespecting the elder person. As a digo you assist him. Nowadays you can’t ask children things like where are you going, where have you been- they will abuse you, they will tell their parents and then the parents will abuse you too. You can’t discipline other parents’ children. Parents now lack respect too . In school they can also be abusive and nothing can be done. A teacher even had to transfer school due to the insult from a student. Children now lack morality, they engage in immorality. In the evening you can see children all over the beach using drugs and dressed inappropriately. The youth have changed as now they are involved in drugs (muguka leaves, smoking tobacco). Youth lack respect in this area, the drugs influence this. They loiter, they sit around in groups- what are they looking for? Maybe they have lied at home as to their whereabouts so this means children have outweighed their parents. It’s free time now, people are free, there is time for leisure earlier. There is idleness today, stealing and bad influences, this wasn’t in the past. Kids are spoiled. Children know more these days. 

Resolutions: The Government needs to stay out of home affairs. How will children’s behaviour be shaped if they cannot be caned or punished? The Government needs to go back to the drawing board. There is the government but there is also culture, the Government shouldn’t be going against certain cultural practises. Leaders need to take discipline matters seriously, the village chief and village elders should be on the front line of these matters. The situations must be handled in line with the law. We should agree with our responsibilities and solve conflicts with the law. Parents should straighten out their children and take responsibility for teaching no matter what. Take charge of their education programme if they are not doing well, cooperate with teachers. Don’t let children loose talk at home and particularly about their teachers. The drug sellers need to be barred from selling to those under 18. Organizations should be involved that can mentor our children with a view of making them collaborate with their parents to move forward in life. 

Listen here:

Digital times

“It’s Digital- your time is over old man”

Chris & Liz attempt to record 🙂

Hi all this is Chris and Liz again from the FoRel Action Research Project based at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Stockholm University Sweden and collaborating with Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo Mozambqiue and World Conservation Society in Mombasa Kenya. I’m Liz sitting at the Resilience Centre. 

FoRel stands for Forum theatre and Relational, two of the approaches the project is taking. The project will carry out forum theatre, a type of participatory theatre created to get the audience involved and empower them. The project is relational, a perspective which emphasizes that relations are more important than units, that everything unfolds or comes about from relations and experiences, never static. 

And I’m Chris at WCS in Mombasa Kenya. This FoRel project is about understanding and exploring people’s daily practises and relationships in the changing tropical coastlines of the western indian ocean. One of the major changes that coastal groups face is obviously climate change, so the project takes a special interest in the impacts and challenges it presents.

So today we will be telling you a short story from the story series “Tales of Change from Kwale Coast”, which we introduced in the last podcast- you can find that on spotify or on the website Just to highlight that the short stories in this series have emerged from the fieldwork data in Coastal Kenya- so interviews and discussions with different types of actors in 2019, like traderwomen, tradermen, retailers, fishers, food sellers, petty vendors. We have tended to not change the words or phrasing too much from the transcripts but just arranged them into a story structure. So each story has a main character(s), a background of the cause/the cause of the conflictual issue, a conflict itself, resolutions and obstacles (if any). 

We pulled apart these stories to try and organize complexity a little bit, but obviously they are all intertwined, not only with each other but with the perceptions of climate and environmental change, the rich expressions of sentiments and motivations with daily practises and relationships and also the temporal aspect which runs throughout the data- the practises of the past, the experiences of change and the hopes for future practises. The story today excludes the problems associated with climate and environmental change because this is how they were presented in the data to us. We will present them in other short stories.

Here we go with the story…….

Digital Times

“It’s Digital- your time is over old man”. This little story acts as a red thread in our fieldwork results, or as people see a driver of the changes and resulting conflicts they are seeing. It is also a hope or a goal to move towards in terms of practise e.g. fishing and farming. A lot of hopes and expectations for the future are based on becoming materially modern

There is a word that has so many answers, the word is digital. When the youth don’t respect the traditions, like helping the old man with his luggage, they say it’s digital, with such a word it’s over. Digital, let me do what I want. Even if I wear underwear or a bikini and walk around half naken, just leave me alone, it’s digital! Your time is over old man, you are out of fashion. This word has a lot of power

The digital world has given out big opportunities to the children of today. Currently we are in a digital period, things are easier, we have solar energy, we have touch screen phones. But the word digital is posing big challenges. Pupils can insult their teachers with no actions taken. Some parents may not even be called father, but by nicknames. When the government brings certain rules, that a parent should not cane, the government contributes to the bad behaviour, the lack of discipline today. These are digital things they say! It brings screens to all of them, they can access porn in this way. European things. Phones help girls to go and meet their boyfriends, they interact on whats app, facebook. Watching dirty clips and photos, then they go and do the practise. These are the digital generation, so with early pregnancy there are chances of the boy denying it. 

We need modern farming methods. In the past they were using traditional pesticides, but currently they cant use them because they are educated, but we cant afford modern pesticides, that’s the problem, we are in a digital world. We are learned. In the past our grandparents were the poorest but they could get higher harvest, but we, digital, dot com, and all intelligence we have, we get low harvest. What is wrong, what is happening? Modern children do not want to be engaged in farming. We do it alone, we the parents. They see the benefits of farming, at the end of the day they see cassava due to our effort, but they do not want to farm. We are in the digital era mother, that what they claim, farming is a past activity.

This is the digital era so the traditional ways of fishing are not getting fish. Our gears have retarded our development. In Lamu they have sea gear that beat the strong winds and goes deep sea for large fish, they can fish all year round. Our guys can’t take us more than 50km, even after a whole day. Our grandparents used these gears and they got fish, but not today, these are digital. The skills that we learned are analog not digital, this is dot com and we are still using traditional methods, we are lagging behind. We are still using canoes without engines, they are not safe and have low catch. 

From Kenyatta (the first President of Kenya) to Moi (the Second) to Kibaki (the Third), Kibaki said Tuendelee (Swahili for Lets go!), and we are moving on like that. Things are digital!

Introducing “Tales of Change from Kwale Coast”

Hi there this is Liz Drury O’Neill here with Chris Cheupe, together we are part of the FoRel project that’s based in Kenya, Sweden and Mozambique. 

We can introduce ourselves first before we introduce the project- Chris you want to go first 

Thank you very much, Liz. My name is Christopher Cheupe I am affiliated to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) Kenya, working on this project called for FoRel. And we are going to tell you stories, very beautiful stories from the work that we have been doing in Msambweni, welcome!

And I’m Liz, a postdoc at the Stockholm Resilience Centre which is the administering organization for this project. I work on FoRel supporting the project in whatever way is needed and also on another project based in Zanzibar looking at marine protected areas.

Chris & Liz meet to record this intro, from Stockholm & Mombassa #NovicePodcasters

This FoRel project is about understanding and exploring people’s daily practises and relationships in the changing tropical coastlines of the western indian ocean. One of the major changes that coastal groups face is obviously climate change, so the project takes a special interest in the impacts and challenges it presents. An important part of FoRel is using forum theatre, so this is a type of participatory theatre created to get the audience involved and empower them. This project wants to use such theatre in Kenya and Mozambique in the hope it can boost people’s abilities to act together in dealing with the different changes the climate and their social systems present to them.

So that would be the main focus of forel, but there is a lot of work needed to get to the theatre performances themselves, which take place in and are even performed by and with the coastal communities of Kenya and Mozambique. So over the last 2 years Forel has been carrying out interviews and group discussions with actors of different types, like fish traders, food vendors, tourist operators, fishers, community leaders, retailers etc. in different villages in Kwale County in Kenya and Inhaca Island in Mozambique. With the information from these methods the scripts of the theatre have been designed and we have been able to get to know more about their lives- specifically what changes people have experienced, their hopes and expectations for the future, how they go about their daily practices. 

Chris has been leading this work for the two years, would you like to give a sense of how its been and any reflections? 

Yeah, thank you very much. As Liz has talked, I’ve been leading this project in Kenya, in fact, I’ve been the main guy, and i’ve been working closely with the community, during data collection, I’ve worked on the on the data, transcribing it. And I’ve been involved in coding. So I have some reflection based on the work, from data connection, till the analysis. Now, when you look at doing data collection, we had a very interactive platform with respondents or the participants, whereby they were very willing and ready to contribute to the project through sharing out their views or perception with regard to the matters, the subject. So we had a very, very interactive time. Participants were willing to share information. The guides (leaders) of the community were also cooperating, because it was a project that the community themselves liked and they were ready to work, to work with us so that we could have a common goal. The community were happy when we introduced to them about the forum theater. And since they love acting, and throughout, they have been willing to listen to information, which have been coming from the performance, it can be, for example, a short movie or a theater performance. So they really liked that. And they asked us to, to involve them when the scripts are ready, so that they themselves can do the performance and have a chance to, to share out their problems in a better way. Because, themselves they’re the ones who have been experiencing the problem. So they will be, they’ll have a chance to share it to the bigger world. So, after the community gave us their information, we went ahead and transcribed, we did some coding and everything which was coming out was really really the touch of the community. And thereafter, we managed to develop some scripts based on the stories that have been saved by the community. And from those stories now, they are the ones that are we are going to share them with you. And I hope you are going to enjoy listening to them. Because they are the stories from the ground. The story from the people themselves. They have not been diluted in one way or another. So hope you will be enjoy.  Thank you

Thanks Chris, so as Chris was saying, The stories of this storytelling series we are introducing you to today are based on the interviews and discussions done with about 70, mainly Digo participants in Kwale County Kenya.

Chris do you want to introduce shortly the Digo to us

Okay, Digo, one of the Mijikenda subgroup communities in Kenya, Mijikenda is a Swahili word, which means nine tribes, nine homesteads and it consists of nine sub-tribes that include the Giriama community, the Kauma, the Chonyi, the Jibana, the Kambe, the Ribe, the Rabai, the Duruma and Digo. There are seven tribes, sub tribes, they are found in Kilifi County, while the two other sub tribes, that is Diigo and Duruma, are found in Kwale County. Now, the Digo community, the majority of them profess to the Islamic faith, they are Muslim. And in terms of the place they reside, especially the Msambweni area, they are dominant there. Most of the Digo, they are bilingual. They speak Swahili, and they also speak the local language called the Chidigo.

Thanks Chris. Great, So just to give some more information on these stories that we will tell, they were put together based on the transcripts from the focus groups and the interviews, which were translated from Kiswahili to English by Chris, to be qualitatively coded and analysed. So I try to use his direct translations of people’s words and not break apart sentences or text blocks, but put the stories together from them. So I basically have been combining different participants words on the same or similar topic to create a story. I also have created context or named the characters as they talk or interact in the situation I put them in. Making sure everything is anonymous and not traceable to the real people, that Chris worked with. 

But just to give my motivation for these stories, as Chris already mentioned his,- well I thought it would a cool thing to do as in this way we can hear directly from people’s experiences of climate, environmental and coastal changes in East Africa in a more engaging way than scientific articles or interviews. Also by highlighting a different group of characters or character in each story we can bring more of a diverse understanding of the impacts of different social and ecological changes to light, beyond that of fishermen or farmermen. I also feel these stories based on the interviews and discussions prioritise the voices of those that are and will be the most impacted by climate change. Also I’m just super bored of zoom and powerpoint. So I thought this would be more fun, to create stories from the very rich data Chris has created for us. Chris any final words’? 

Yeah, this is a great initiative. And it’s a new style or a technique, whereby we are going to present our data in a simpler way rather than a complex and difficult way. We are aiming at reaching the last person that could get this information in right way, in an inappropriate way so that they can absorb it and utilize the information for their self development. As you can see, this perspective, we are going to tell you the stories the way they are. And we believe that the people who are not much well informed, they will have an avenue or a space whereby they could get this information so that they can utilize them. So for this approach, I believe we are going to reach a wider and bigger audience and we believe that they are going to listen and to enjoy, the stories that we are going to tell them. Thank you Liz

Thank so much for listening, we’ll see you next time with some of the stories, from all of us here at FoRel- Kwaheri!

Science & Theatre – relationality starts with us

Last meeting with some of the project’s members.

Relationality, community and affection between members of the project occur in many ways, one of which is, in an interdisciplinary team, learning from each other. In our FoRel, science and theatre merge creating new possibilities for the process of (co)producing knowledge and for knowledge itself, Dadivo José and Christopher Cheupe from the teams in Mozambique and Kenya, respectively, shared and educated us about theatre, their trajectories and the importance of this approach in their respective countries.

Chris shared how the theatre has been used in research and dialogues between academia and communities and taught us about different participatory theatre types. He also shared his trajectory within the theatre and how he feels confident today, being a facilitator who makes sure to understand about the subject being dealt with and about the local context.

Dadivo, in turn, taught us how theatre has been used through the history of Mozambique since pre-colonial times to spread information and educate the population. He also told us about the use of theatre as a healing process. This theatrical healing process occurs with the audience (also in the community), and the actors. Dadivo shared how himself went through this transformative process, healing the traumas of the Civil War. Whoever is involved with theatre in Mozambique would ask at some point: “are we healing from the trauma by forgetting or remembering?”.

In both cases, the theatre has been used effectively to promote informative campaigns and raise awareness about different topics. Another point in common between the two presentations was that language in theatre must respect the local language and “context language”. However, as they put it, theatre allows us to create a safe space where local histories can be told. For them, one way to deal with sensitive themes or even with local power structures (for example, gender issues), is to use songs, dances and humour.

The FoRel project is immensely grateful for having professionals of such sensitivity, knowledge and competence, which allows us to learn whenever we meet and enriches the relationality of our project.


Relacionalidade, comunidade e afeto acadêmico entre membros do projeto dá-se de muitas maneiras, uma delas é, no nosso time interdisciplinar, a aprendizagem entre o grupo. Em nosso FoRel, no qual a ciência e o teatro se fundem e criam novas possibilidades de produção de conhecimento e um novo conhecimento, Dadivo José do time de Moçambique e Christopher Cheupe do Quenia, compartilharam suas trajetórias e  nos educaram sobre teatro e a importância dessa abordagem em seus respectivos países. 

Chris compartilhou como o teatro vem sendo utilizado em pesquisas e diálogos entre academia e comunidade, além de apresentar os diferentes tipos de teatro de participação realizados no Quênia. Também compartilhou a sua própria trajetória dentro do teatro e como hoje ele se sente seguro em sendo um facilitador que, segundo ele, precisa entender sobre teatro, sobre o tema tratado e sobre o contexto local. 

Dadivo, por sua vez, nos ensinou como o teatro vem sendo utilizado na história de Moçambique, desde de tempos pré-coloniais para difundir informação e educar a população, bem como a utilização do teatro de hoje dia, considerada como um processo de cura. Esse processo teatral de cura ocorre com a audiência (a comunidade que se apresenta), e também com seus atores. Dadivo compartilhou como ele próprio passou por esse processo transformador, curando os traumas da Guerra Civil, “estamos nos curando do trauma esquecendo ou lembrando dele?”.

Em ambos os casos o teatro vem sendo utilizado de maneira efetiva para promover campanhas informativas e aumentar a consciência sobre temas diversos. Outro ponto em comum entre as duas palestras foi o fato de que a linguagem no teatro deve respeitar a Língua e linguagem (contexto) local. Entretanto, O teatro nos permite criar esse local seguro para contar a história local. E uma maneira para se lidar com temas sensíveis ou até mesmo com as estruturas de poder locais (por exemplo, gênero), compartilhado por eles, é a utilização de canções, danças e humor.

O projeto FoRel é imensamente grato por contar com profissionais de tamanha sensibilidade, conhecimento e competência, que nos permite aprender sempre que nos reunimos e que enriquece o projeto relacional dentro da relacionalidade do nosso projeto.  

Short Interviews – Science&Theatre

Dadivo José – Art specialist for community mobilization, describes here his experience as an academic artist or an art scientist, with art. Bilingual interview.

1- Como pesquisador que iniciou sua carreira acadêmica através das artes o que você pode dizer sobre a integracão das artes na academia? O que a arte tem a oferecer à ciência e o que a ciência tem a oferecer as artes?
Primeiro devo dizer que iniciei a minha carreira artística na rua, ou seja, longe do rigor técnico da academia. Não tinha possibilidades para estudar as artes em Moçambique (na altura, o ensino das artes a nível superior era uma utopia), fui evoluindo a base de experiências partilhadas com outros praticantes e viajando para grandes festivais. Quando em 2008 introduzimos o curso de teatro na UEM foi mesmo o aproveitar da experiência prática de um grupo de docentes, que já levavam décadas trabalhando com teatro. Aprendemos com a academia o rigor profissional e o sentido do pensamento artístico sistematizado. A academia e a ciência ganharam a prática e experiência dos docentes que estiveram em diversos palcos, o que constitui um factor motivador para os estudantes que olham para os docentes com uma carreira feita da força em buscar motivações e energias para chegarem longe. A História que cada um dos docentes escreve com a sua carreira constitui sem dúvida, uma forma de manuseamento do conhecimento artístico local. Com a ciência redescobrimos o grande valor que as artes locais tiveram nas diferentes etapas da história do país que incluí a sociedade, política, económia e cultura.

First, I must say that I started my artistic career on the street, that is, far from the technical rigour of the academy. I had no possibilities to study the arts in Mozambique (at the time, teaching art at a higher level was a utopia), I was evolving the base of experiences shared with other practitioners and travelling to major festivals. When in 2008 we introduced the theatre course at UEM, it was really taking advantage of the empirical experience of a group of teachers, who had been working with theatre for decades. We learned from the academy the professional rigour and the sense of systematic artistic thinking. The academy and science have gained the practice and experience of teachers who have been on different stages, which is a motivating factor for students who look to teachers with a career made of the strength to seek motivations and energies to get far. The history that each of the teachers writes with their career is undoubtedly a way of handling local artistic knowledge. With science, we have rediscovered the great value that the local arts had in the different stages of the country’s history, which included society, politics, economics and culture.

2- Quais os desafios relacionados a essa integração? / What are the challenges related to this integration?
A questão da natureza disciplinar (as artes têm as suas peculiaridades) traz consigo os desafios, tanto para a oligarquia académica, como para o seu corpo administrativo. Por exemplo, os exames de admissão, as avaliações, a composição das turmas e a infraestruturas continuaram a ser concebidos de forma tradicional, respeitando os paradigmas dos cursos já enraizados na instituição. Continuamos na luta de influenciar o pensamento administrativo e das políticas da faculdade de forma a acomodar as especificidades artísticas. A cultura da disciplina existe para os docentes e estudantes, mas ainda carece de algum esclarecimento para o seu corpo técnico administrativo.

The issue of disciplinary nature (the arts have their peculiarities) brings with it challenges, both for the academic oligarchy and its administrative body. For example, entrance exams, assessments, class composition and infrastructure continued to be designed traditionally, respecting the paradigms of courses rooted in the institution. We continue to struggle to influence the faculty’s administrative and policy thinking to accommodate artistic specificities. The culture of the discipline exists for teachers and students, but it still needs some clarification for its administrative-technical staff.

3- Como essa integracão tem modificado a sua maneira de enxergar essas duas carreiras? / How has this integration changed the way you see these two practices?
Acredito que a integração das artes na academia, ou vice versa, tem ajudado na forma de encarrar as carreiras artísticas. Hoje sinto-me artista mais maduro e capaz de melhor dar resposta a questões de intervenção comunitária, por exemplo. Como docente, também vejo um crescimento na relação com os estudantes e nas pesquisas feitas, como resultado da minha interacção com as várias audiências  com as quais tenho cruzado ao longo da minha carreira. A integração das artes na academia contribui para uma visão holística das mesmas e ajuda a reclamar a existência histórica dos criadores de um país. Transforma a academia também como um lugar no qual os pioneiros na perservação do pensamento artístico estão presentes.

I believe that the integration of the arts in the academy, or vice versa, has helped in the way of seeing artistic careers. Today I feel I am a more mature artist and able to better answer questions of community intervention, for example. As a teacher, I also see an increase in the relationship with students and in the research done, as a result of my interaction with the various audiences that I have crossed over my career. The integration of the arts in the academy contributes to a holistic view of them and helps to claim the historical existence of the creators of a country. It also transforms the academy as a place where the pioneers in the preservation of artistic thought are present.

4- Qual é a peculiaridade que surge em utilizar a perspectiva relacional a esta técnica de teatro participativo? / What is the peculiarity that arises in applying the relational perspective to this participatory theatre technique?
É uma questão do compromisso em cada uma das vertentes. Costumo dizer que um praticante das artes anda sempre com dois corações:  a do artista- que deve saber fazer muito bem o que se lhe oferece como artista e, a de investigador da area temática em questão- o que lhe faz procurar sempre perceber o lado temático do que se vai abordar para melhor casar com as artes. Isso implica o domínio dos métodos científicos aplicados ás artes. Por exemplo, sabemos que todas as percepções populares sobre as mudanças climáticas em Inhaca foram resultados de uma busca que obedeceu a rigores científicos da pesquisa. É com o mesmo tratamento na análise e interpretação de dados que pegamos nos resultados e transformamos em drama. Cruzamos a diversas ciências para chegarmos a um produto artístico-teatral, que continua a obedecer os critérios e os objectivos do projecto em que estão nele inseridos.

It is a question of commitment in each aspect. I often say that an arts practitioner always has two hearts: the artist – who must know how to do very well what is offered to him as an artist; and the other one, the researcher in the thematic area in question – which makes him always try to perceive the side thematic of what will be approached to better match the arts. This implies the mastery of scientific methods applied to the arts. For example, we know that all popular perceptions of climate change in Inhaca were the result of a search that followed scientific research rigours. It is with the same treatment in the analysis and interpretation of data that we take the results and turn them into drama. We cross several sciences to arrive at an artistic-theatrical product, which continues to obey the criteria and objectives of the project in which they are inserted.

5- Quais são os resultados que você espera alcançar/ver com o projeto? / What results do you hope to achieve/see with the project?
Espero mais uma vez ver a capacidade de mobilização e participação popular de teatro. Espero ver a libertação que o forum confere aos “especta-actores”. Espero ver os estudantes dentro de contexto comunitário concreto. Espero ver o assunto em debate cada vez mais esclarecido de forma simples numa situação de envolvimento e participação da comunidade que poderá ser vista sob forma de identidade, localidade e fenomenologia. Esses resultados estarão também diversificados numa relação de teatro para a comunidade; teatro com a comunidade e; teatro da comunidade.

I hope once again to see the capacity for mobilization and popular participation in theatre. I hope to see the release that the forum gives to “specta-actors”. I hope to see students within a concrete community context. I hope to see the subject under discussion increasingly clear and in a simple way in a situation of community involvement and participation that can be seen in the form of identity, location and phenomenology. These results will also be diversified in a theatre relationship for the community; theatre with the community and; community theatre.

Short Interviews – Fieldwork area – Kenya

Professor Halimu Shauri – Project leader of the Kenyan team. He is Associate Professor in Sociology at Pwani University in Kenya. Here, Professor Shauri talks about his home, Msambweni, the project’s focus area in Kenya.

1- What is your relationship with the studied area? 
I was born, attended my basic education and secondary education in the area. Am thus very conversant with the area, the people and how it was and how the area is due to the changes that have been taking place, some social and others environmental.

2- Is there any particularity about the place and/or its communities that you could share?
The community is very social and hardworking. The peculiarity would be low levels of literacy that have contributed to the poor well-being  and livelihood strategies that have had an impact on the environment.

3- What could communities gain with a project like the FoRel?
Knowledge, especially on environmental conservation that has contributed to the challenges of poor livelihoods to some extent in the area. Conservation of fish breeding sites, especially Octopus, which does very well in the area, will certainly help improve the livelihood conditions of the community.

4- What are your hopes for the future of the area, and how do you believe the project could contribute to this?
Am positive about the future of the area with conservation. If we are able to convince the community on the need to conserve fish breeding grounds, like for example, have a community fish breeding conservation area, owned and protected by themselves through this project, we will have had a breakthrough for the community’s future.

5- How could the relational perspective help to understand the region?
All what humanity does has some elements of relational-ity. What we do needs a lot of synergy from others. We are not self sustaining and hence we in a way depends on others for our needs and survival. Relational perspective therefore helps us understand more our common humanity for symbiotic relationship, which is the whole mark of human survival. We are humans and relational perspective enhances our humanity in the way we interact, engage and transact business with each other for individual and common needs and development.

Short Interviews – Fieldwork area – Mozambique

Professor Salomão Bandeira – Project leader of the Mozambican team
He is Associate Professor in Marine Biology at the Department of Biological Sciences (DCB), Eduardo Mondlane University. Here, he talks about his relationship with the project’s focus area in Mozambique, the beautiful Inhaca Island!

1- What is your relationship with the studied area? / Qual é a sua relação com a área estudada? 
I visit Inhaca several times a year. I also maintain close contact with the Island via my students who visit the Island/EBMI (Inhaca Marine Biology Station) every month; also in contact with EBMI technicians. I have been running projects on Inhaca almost uninterrupted for many years till now. Currently, I also ran a project on seagrass restoration in the Island. 

Visito Inhaca várias vezes por ano. Eu também mantenho contato próximo com a ilha através dos meus alunos que visitam o local/EBMI (Estação de Biologia Marítima da Inhaca) todos os meses; também em contato com os técnicos da EBMI. Tenho executado projetos em Inhaca quase ininterruptamente por muitos anos até agora. Atualmente, também executei um projeto de restauração de ervas marinhas na ilha.

2- Is there any particularity about the place and / or its communities that you could share? / Qual é uma particularidade que você acredita poderia dizer sobre o local e/ou suas comunidades?
The Inhaca Island for Biologists is a miniature of a tropical setting and Mozambique; because it has all key tropical habitats in close vicinity (mangroves forests, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, rocky and sandy shores, rough and calm waters, endangered and charismatic species, fisheries etc.). Inhaca is a great laboratory that is linked with my own story of being a marine biologist. I value very much the connection between those habitats have among themselves such as the link between seagrass and dugongs as an example (there are many more examples like the fish that roam around between seagrasses and coral reefs or with mangrove forests; turtle nesting in the dunes with their voyager over high seas and the bay etc.). Unique also is the link that EBMI has with its research management/conservation with forest reserves since 1965. For communities, the EBMI means a lot, it gives an immense sense of place and value to them as demonstrated the link with food/protein security, tourism, etc. 

Ilha da Inhaca para Biólogos é uma miniatura de um cenário tropical e de Moçambique; porque tem todos os principais habitats tropicais nas proximidades (florestas de manguezais, prados de ervas marinhas, recifes de coral, costas rochosas e arenosas, águas agitadas e calmas, espécies ameaçadas e carismáticas, pesca, etc.). O Inhaca é um grande laboratório que está ligado à minha própria história de ser um biólogo marinho. Eu valorizo muito a conexão que esses habitats têm entre si, como a ligação entre ervas marinhas e dugongos por exemplo (há muitos mais exemplos, como os peixes que vagueiam entre ervas marinhas e recifes de coral ou com manguezais; tartarugas nidificando nas dunas com sua viagem em alto mar e na baía, etc.). Único também é o vínculo que a EBMI tem com sua pesquisa de gestão/conservação com reservas florestais desde 1965. Para as comunidades, a EBMI significa muito, esta oferece um imenso sentido de lugar e valor para essas, como demonstrado a ligação com segurança alimentar/proteica, turismo etc.

3- What could communities gain with a project like the FoRel? /  O que as comunidades podem adquirir com um projeto como o FoRel?
They can acquire wider understanding on Inhaca resources on the perspective of both habitats and peoples vulnerability; The spectrum of value that nature gives them also offers immense potential for future benefits like those associated with climate adaptation of Inhaca resources. FOREL provide the necessary sensitization and options for appropriate discussion and for people to make their decision/participation in the management of resources and practices in a manner that encourages sustainability and reduce vulnerability.

Eles podem adquirir uma compreensão mais ampla dos recursos da Inhaca na perspectiva dos habitats e da vulnerabilidade das pessoas; O espectro de valor que a natureza lhes dá, oferece também um imenso potencial para os benefícios futuros como aqueles associados à adaptação climática dos recursos da Inhaca. O FOREL fornece a sensibilização e opções necessárias para uma discussão adequada e para que as pessoas tomem a sua decisão / participação na gestão dos recursos e práticas de forma a incentivar a sustentabilidade e reduzir a vulnerabilidade.

4- What are your hopes for the future of the area, and how do you believe the project could contribute to this? / Quais as suas esperancas para o futuro do local e de que maneira você acredita que o projeto poderia contribuir com isso?
Such clips/footage can be used to engage people in debates, discussions of their participation and contribution towards better management and self-learning. Inhaca, together with the regions extended to the south to Ponta de Ouro, west and south of Maputo Bay, was recently suggested to be part of UNESCO Heritage. This area is part of the POPMR (Ponta de Ouro Partial Marine Reserve) contiguous with Maputo Special Reserve. Both area part of APA (Area de Protenção Ambiental category as per the Conservation Law in Mozambique). The proposal is to connect with the world heritage in continuation to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. We have a major change and the advancement of Forel together with community awareness and the meaning of power to communicate climate change preparedness and adaptation can help make a difference to engage communities and stakeholders in the right direction.

Esses clipes/cenas podem ser usados para envolver as pessoas em debates e discussões sobre sua participação e contribuição para uma melhor gestão e autoaprendizagem. Inhaca, juntamente com as regiões estendidas ao sul até a Ponta de Ouro, oeste e sul da Baía de Maputo, foi recentemente sugerida para fazer parte do Patrimônio da UNESCO. Esta área faz parte da POPMR (Reserva Parcial Marinha da Ponta de Ouro) contígua à Reserva Especial de Maputo. Ambas fazem parte da APA (categoria Área de Proteção Ambiental conforme Lei de Conservação de Moçambique). A proposta é conectar-se com o patrimônio mundial na continuação do Parque iSimangaliso Wetland em Kwazulu Natal, África do Sul. Temos uma grande mudança e o avanço da Forel, juntamente com a conscientização da comunidade e o significado do poder para comunicar a preparação e adaptação às mudanças climáticas podem ajudar a fazer a diferença no envolvimento das comunidades e as partes interessadas na direção certa.

5- How could the relational perspective help to understand the region? / Como a perspectiva relacional poderia ajudar a compreender a região?
Climate change issues occur widely in the region and in Inhaca, though FOREL, can become a model to the replication of good practices of community engagement and troubleshooting engagement in discussion, finding solution and examples of people’s adaptation and reduction of vulnerabilities. This can be part of the culture of conservation for this area and beyond.

As questões das mudanças climáticas ocorrem amplamente na região e na Inhaca. O FOREL pode tornar-se um modelo para replicar [ser reproduzido como exemplo de] boas práticas de engajamento da comunidade e engajamento em discussão, encontrando soluções e exemplos de adaptação de pessoas e redução de vulnerabilidades. Isso pode fazer parte da cultura de conservação para esta área e além.

Short Interviews – Caroline Abunge on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

Caroline Abunge is a socio-economic research scientist involved in publications with the Wildlife Conservation Society Marine program and part of the FoRel Kenya’s team. She has been working with Coastal communities on various projects encouraging sustainability of coral reef fisheries through fish landings monitoring, seeking perceptions of resource users on different conservation options and active feedback of the research findings to same communities and stakeholders. She is also part of the current FoRel fieldwork in Msambweni. 

1- What impressed you most about your fieldwork?
The respondent’s excitement about the methodology. They were happy to know that the result of the surveys is to have theater play to help them understand the concept of climate change better.

2- What was a surprise factor in the field?
Despite the major changes in the fishery sector, over 80% of respondents did not want to leave fishery but supplement their marine related activity with another job. The community was very free to talk about their social changes and challenges.

2.1- What did you expect to find and did not find?
Some willingness to leave fishery for other occupations with better returns.

2.2- What did you not expect to find but found?
Despite the helping culture in the muslim community and religion, fishers got very little help from their wealthy and capable friends and other family members. This was because fishing was considered unprofitable therefore nobody wanted to put their money in it. It was considered as both very important as an employment opportunity but very useless as it made no difference to those involved.

3- What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
The deeper understanding of daily activities. Apart from knowing what one does, we get to know when, how, with whom; these three elements are unique to this project and not found in others.

4- What are your thoughts so far, would you like to add something?
I could have been interesting to investigate all different activities in the community. It was mostly marine, and other activities came out as partial or alternative livelihoods thus not discussed in details.

Thank you!

Short Interviews – Christopher Cheupe on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

Christopher Cheupe – FoRel project research Assistant, Kenya. He has been working with the Wildlife Conservation Society in a project called SPACES, where they used theatre to share the results for the community involved. The SPACES project has Tim Daw as a PI. Tim is also a member of the FoRel Team. Chris has conducted his fieldwork in Msambweni, during July and October 2020.   

1- What can you say about your fieldwork, what impressed you most about your fieldwork?
“There are so many things that impressed me during the fieldwork, especially when we arrived in Msambweni, where we collected our data. I was impressed about the beach management Unit officials, they are very new to the office because the election was done last year, so they are still new to the office, but they do very well. They were very ready to help us in organizing our work so we could conduct our fieldwork in a peaceful environment, so the BMU officials were ready to work with us. Secondly, the community members also impressed me, because after introducing the project to them, we had a meeting with the community leaders, for them to later share the meeting deliberations and FoRel project information to the members of the community. So, I was impressed with them too, because they were happy and ready to participate in the project so that it can realize its objectives. Another thing I was impressed was… for most of the respondents was their first time to participate in the research project. They have never been engaged in any kind of research; thus their first time sharing their new ideas. So, I was surprised, because having a new project, having new BMU Officials and new ideas coming to them and from the participants. Participants could effectively share their perceptions. So, these are the things that really impressed me throughout the fieldwork.”

2- What was the surprising factor for you in the fieldwork, something that surprised you?
“What surprised me was the issue of the community members, their willingness to participate. Everyone we came across was ready to take part in the interview […] we could have interviewed everyone if time and money could allow us, everybody was ready to do the interview and share information without fear. The information they gave us is very, very, very rich. Another surprise was the issue of climate change, for example, the issue of sea-level rise, which was clear, and the participants were able to perceive that change happening in that community.”

2.1 Maybe you have already mentioned, but could you tell us what did you not expect to find but found?
“One thing we collected our data during the period of the COVID19 which affected everyone. The movement from one region to another region was restricted by the government, from Mombasa especially, because it was the hotspot from the COVID19. So, we thought that maybe the participants would not want to participate in the interview with us because we were from Mombasa, and there were a lot of cases of COVID19… Then, we thought that it would be a little bit difficult, but on the contrary, they were ready, they were eager to take part in the project. We also followed all the COVID19 government guidelines of the preventive measures and the WCS COVID 19 protocols, so we were ready to give them face masks during the interviews and also manage to respect the social distance. […]”

I see, the COVID19 situation was not expected and you faced it during the fieldwork, but also, on the other hand, the response of the participants and their willingness to participate in the research was something that you even did not expect to find there and you found! So, there is a double way to see it, something you expect to find, their resistance and did not find! And it can be a very nice example to observe how the participants can play a fundamental role when it comes to finding solutions in the field!

3- I would like to ask you about the relational perspective. What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
“For this is the aspect of interviewing people in the same assemblage and understanding the changes the people in the community perceive… Unlike other research that I have been doing, the socio-ecological aspect, the ecological network with social makes this project unique. So, I am happy to see this connection between man and nature in this relational approach and this in this project is what makes it unique than other projects.”

4- Do you like to share some thoughts or if would you like to add something now is the time!
“Ok! Maybe I could just say something, it is just one observation about the fieldwork, the community or the participants really like this project, and they are eagerly waiting for the feedback, especially the theatre part. All the participants that we interview are willing to be part of the feedback meeting and the theatre that we are going to share the information that we receive from them. So, they are very willing to become part of it and to act. And I believe that they are in a better position to do it well because they are ones who understand better about their problem and they are in a better position to suggest also the so-called solutions for their problems. So, those who do not want to participate in the community theatre they want to participate as an audience, but this audience will also become actors! From me is this, it is what I want to say… The majority wants to be involved in the research, and they are very happy to be part and see the new management of the bay, so it is a plus to the community this project, and I believe that at the end of this project the community will be at another level.”

Thank you!