South Africa

Green Sesame Street sign with yellow trim and white lettering reading “Takalani Sesame”. Quote reads: “Why not use these opportunities and recourses to address what is very critical for the country. And at this particular time it is issues of HIV and AIDS. 
—Naila Farouky, producer, Takalani Sesame”

The Characters

Kami, a yellow Muppet with a blue vest smiles with her arms outstretched

Kami is five years old and is HIV-positive. She is a little shy, but very friendly and and great fun to be with. Kami keeps a memory box of beautiful things that belonged to her mother; she looks at them when she wants to remember all the good times she had with her.

Moshe, a yellow Muppet with brown hands, a long neck and a round chest smiles

Moshe is a four year old who sees the bright side of anything. He gets very concerned about the environment, and finds home for lost plants, including weeds. He also loves to dance.

A boy holding a banana, a yellow Muppet, a girl in a gray dress, a man in overalls and a woman in a blue dress and headdress holding a wooden box full of vegetables stand and smile

Developing a Sesame Street co-production in South Africa involved a new set of issues. How could the show address the very real daily challenges of children living in a country with one of the world’s most quickly growing HIV infection rates? More than five million South Africans are HIV positive, a number expected to at least double in the next eight years, and hundreds of thousands of South African children have already been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. But as Children’s Media Specialist and Pediatrician Gabriel Urgoti says, “The reality of the world is that there are very few kids who have an easy and great life. In most of countries a great percentage of children are really living in poverty…. I think it would be a betrayal to the rights of the child not to address those issues.”

Addressing HIV and AIDS on the South African co-production of Sesame Street involved risky maneuvers such as changing attitudes and challenging government policies. The show also provided a useful vehicle for communicating to and educating children. When the producers decided to create Kami, an HIV-positive Muppet, the viewer response was both highly controversial and highly appreciative.

Takalani Sesame Update from Producer Naila Farouky:

The latest update on Takalani Sesame in South Africa since the filming of THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET is that we are now in the final stages of gearing up for the upcoming seasons. We will be producing 650 episodes over the next five years for TV and 150 programs for radio. We are continuing with our HIV and AIDS initiative and with Kami.

In other news, one of the projects we were working on in South Africa that didn't make it into the film was a campaign called the “talk to me...” campaign which was a huge success. This was a campaign to promote communication between adults and children on the subjects of HIV and AIDS. The television aspect of this project went on to win various prestigious awards internationally, including the Peabody Award and the Japan Prize. We are hoping to produce more installments of the “talk to me...” special in the coming round of production.
—Naila Farouky

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Photographs and graphics provided courtesy of Sesame Workshop.
Sesame Street® and associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. ©2006 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.


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