Beans, a family affair

| August 17, 2020

Download this story

This week’s Farmer story from Benin talks about a village savings and loans association. So does our Script of the Week.

Beans, a family affair is a five-episode drama about a group of women who persevere against difficulties to achieve success. The women belong to a village savings or vicoba group in Tanzania, and all of them grow common beans. Women do most of the field work for common beans. But, because of the traditional gender roles in their community, men make all the post-harvest decisions, including selling the beans and controlling the income.

A few of the major female characters in the drama, including Farida and Mama Mjuni, take the lead on this endeavour. They encourage the women to work together on their farms, and finally to grow beans together to market as a group to the village bean factory.

The drama takes place against a backdrop of dramatic situations, including conflicts between women and men: domestic abuse in one family, and the underhanded efforts of a village womanizer to both manipulate women and profit from criminal activities.

There are light, funny moments in the drama too, though it covers serious themes. If you produce the drama with a local group, ensure that the more serious moments are balanced with the lighter scenes of friends reminiscing and laughing.

Each of the five episodes is approximately 20-25 minutes long, including intro and extro music. Because the episodes are long, you might want to air only two or three scenes at a time in your program. In most cases, two or three scenes take 6-8 minutes.

You could follow up the drama with a call-in program that discusses some of the issues raised in the program, inviting male and female experts on the issues. Discussions could address:

  • how the community divides the work involved in growing and marketing common beans, or other crops grown in your area, and how this might be biased against women’s interests, and may even hurt the family;
  • domestic abuse and the culture or habit of silence that allows it to continue; and
  • the kinds of support men can offer women who are struggling to help themselves and their families in difficult situations.