In a bid to fight misinformation, one of the country’s top technology and innovation centres MHub has partnered 10 creatives to champion a campaign against fake news.
The project, called Fact Checkers Malawi, will also fight hate speech and misrepresentation of facts in Malawi.
According to MHub chief executive officer (CEO) Vincent Kumwenda, the first event of the initiative are skits by stand-up comedian Tannah, who will be playing a minibus conductor and will be engaging the public on different topical issues touching on misinformation and fake news.
“The creatives will be looking for issues that are being talked about in the society in line with our four thematic areas, create artistic content around them and share widely with the public primarily through Mikozi. The content will take different artistic forms ranging from video to images,” he said.
Kumwenda said artists have so much power to communicate and make a difference in society, hence, opting to work with them.
“We want to harness that power, freedom to think and creativity to reach many people with factual conversations. Artists are better-positioned to influence how people think and engage with facts. We are also giving them a platform to showcase their talents, collaborate on projects and learn more information about the thematic areas we are targeting,” he stated.
Kumwenda said they will use the online Mikozi platform because of the way they have attracted a particular audience interested in art and other important issues.
MHub sees the initiative as the first step towards creating a platform where people can verify facts on particular topics.
“The initiative will focus on areas such as politics, xenophobia, Covid-19 and social issues. Fact Checkers Malawi will produce relatable and sharable content addressing these issues not only to communicate fact but to generate debate,” he said.
In a separate interview, Tannah said he is looking forward to working in his new role to encourage people to check and verify facts before sharing any information that they come across.
He said: “The bus is a platform where different people meet. It is, therefore, the depiction of a conductor, Tannah, who engages with diverse people on different issues most of which are fake news or bordering on misinformation.”
While calling it an adventure, the comedian said the initiative will challenge him to try new things.
“It’s a step ahead of my usual skits and way of doing comedy as it tackles important topics in a different way but using the same humour that people have known me for. But I have a whole team that will help me in sourcing information, writing the scripts and shooting,” he said.
The project, which runs up to December 2020, is being supported by Hivos Southern Africa through the Resource of Open Minds (Room) project.