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Innovation Hub Impact Story

Impact story 1: Message in the music

In this series, we highlight the impact stories of our members. They share their projects with a focus on the main users and the impact it has made on them.

27 July 2023

Combating misinformation and bringing awareness through songs.

By Mercy Corps & African Radio Drama Association 

In a world plagued by misinformation, where rumours spread like wildfire and hate speech fuels violence, a group of dedicated individuals in Nigeria embarked on a mission to combat the dangerous tide. Mercy Corps and the African Radio Drama Association (ARDA) joined forces, recognising the power of social media both as a catalyst for misinformation and as a potential tool for change.

Hate speech and rumours: the fuel for violence

For over a decade, conflicts in northeast and northwest Nigeria had left more than 2 million people displaced, internally and across borders. Within this landscape of uncertainty and division, hate speech and rumours found fertile ground on social media, fueling conflicts and inciting violence. But the team at Mercy Corps believed that if social media was the problem, it could also be the solution. Thus, they set out to create a campaign featuring influencers and artists speaking out to bring awareness and debunk falsehoods.

If social media is the problem, it can also be the solution.

Spreading Rumours

To tackle the issue head-on, Mercy Corps partnered with ARDA. Their collective vision was clear: to call out the dangers of misinformation and teach people how to avoid spreading it. They sought to engage the hearts and minds of the younger generation, who were most plugged into social media and enlisted the musical talents of Fresh Emir, a famous artist with a significant youth following. He wrote Jita Jita” for this campaign, which means “rumours” in Hausa, the common language in northern Nigeria. The song was part of a more extensive social media campaign that ARDA is implementing under the Community Initiatives to Promote Peace project (CIPP).  

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Story-telling through music

Fresh Emir was chosen not only for his artistic skills and massive youth following but also for his conscious rap music that fearlessly shed light on the ills faced by his community. The collaboration promised a potent blend of music and storytelling to resonate with the target audience. The creative process was participatory as the team brainstormed strategies to convey their messages effectively. Since ARDA has always used the storytelling technique, the team wanted a concept with a story angle that people could easily relate to. Fresh Emir was also involved in the Social Media Campaign design process as an influencer from Kano State in northern Nigeria. “We shared our story concept with him and our campaign messages, and he created the lyrics. We made a few suggestions to ensure that our messages on fake news, rumours and hate speech were relayed in powerful terms while maintaining his entertaining element.” – Tim Adepoju-ARDA Program Officer

“Music, as we know, is a strong communication tool,” expressed Fresh Emir. “People appreciated the song because it came at the right time, and they took the message seriously. I believe the information got to the right people and will impact their lives positively. Hopefully, this will reduce the spread of misinformation in our communities.” 

A catchy song with positive and inspiring lyrics

“Young people described the song with words like positive, inspiring, educative and timely.” Ibukun Sanni, the ARDA-CIPP Deputy Program Manager, explains why this song was such a hit. “Non-speakers of the language have widely accepted the song due to the conscious decision by the team to subtitle the video, making it possible for everyone to understand the song’s message. The music video has hit over 220k views on YouTube and over 100k views across social media platforms”.

A catchy song with compelling lyrics can raise awareness among people who may otherwise not be receptive to the message. From combating xenophobia to misinformation, Mercy Corps teams are increasing awareness around complex topics. Whether streaming through speakers or broadcasted on radio waves, music offers an accessible way to learn about issues in our communities and sing along to the solutions. A catchy melody and compelling lyrics can penetrate the hearts of individuals who might otherwise remain closed off to the message. With each harmonious note and each resonating chorus, the mission to combat misinformation marches on, bringing enlightenment and unity to communities near and far.