Is it true? There is a soap opera that seeks social change, education, and awareness? Indeed it is. At a time when television success is measured by ratings dominated by cheesy reality programming – and I have to admit I’m a culprit of at least one ABC dating show – there is an alternative that can be measured instead by its potential to affect real change in peoples lives.
It is called “The Team” and while it first aired in 2010, the concept is starting to catch on. It came to my attention only recently on the heels of a life-changing first visit to Africa — Tanzania and Kenya, specifically, which is where the fictionalized drama takes place.
Let’s back up for a moment — during the Kenyan presidential elections in 2008 headlines were dominated by protests over issues including extreme poverty and widespread corruption. Nearly 1,500 were killed and about 300,000 displaced, and tensions continue complicated by terrorist activity and Somali unrest at Kenya’s northern border.
In response to the devastating post‐election violence, two organizations – Search for Common Ground and Media Focus on Africa Foundation with the support of DIFD and USAID– came up with the concept for “The Team.” The show follows the lives of members of a new Kenyan ‘Imani’ (meaning ‘faith’ in Swahili) soccer/football club who learn to overcome their tribal, ethnic, social and economic differences through the bond of sport. Together, soccer players from different tribes work to put historic rivalries behind them and form new relationships. The hope is that commonalities portrayed in fiction can inspire harmony in the real world amongst the country’s 42 official tribes.
While the show originally aired in 2010 and no new episodes have yet been announced, the series can be downloaded on Link TV, the first nationwide television channel and website dedicated to providing global perspectives on news, events and culture and presenting issues not often covered in the US media. They connect viewers with people at the heart of breaking events, organizations in the forefront of social change and the cultures of an increasingly global community.
This series itself is promoted as a metaphor of Kenya today. The characters are from broken families, as Kenya itself, is a broken country, thus the team serves as a surrogate family for the players. Each wants to belong, but all must learn to find their place and respect for one another in a way that works for the good of everyone. The obstacles? Ethnic hatred and deep-rooted divisions that sparked the post-election violence. The series seeks to show that it is possible to overcome past differences for the good of the team…and ultimately for the good of Kenya.
Photos courtesy Link TV.
Lindsay Taub is an LA-based writer/editor who covers travel, lifestyle, culture, music/arts, food, wellness, and more. She calls Los Angeles home when she's there, but prefers to leave the city for the mountains and open spaces as often as possible. She loves cooking, gardening, live music, hiking with her three rescue dogs, and rustic luxury. Follow her on instagram/twitter @lindsaytaub and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.lindsaytaub.com and www.voyagevixens.com .***