In Tanzania LGBTQ people face discrimination and persecution. The country’s president John Magufuli, who came to power in 2015, has been leading a crackdown on LGBTQ rights in the country, and homosexuality is now a crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Needless to say LGBTQ Tanzanians are fearing for the lives and campaigning for their rights have become a very dangerous task. To protect the activists who collected the data on stigmatisation and discrimination faced by LGBTQ people in Tanzania it was decided that any campaign that came out of the workshop would need to be run as an anonymous digital campaign.
The team spent a long time at the workshop cleaning the dataset and making it machine readable. Their data collection method and the structure of the form was confusing which meant that there had been some misunderstandings by some participants and there were also some mutually exclusive questions.
The team worked really hard to improve the methodology and the questionnaire form so that in the future the activists would be able to collect and analyse data more efficiently. From the dataset that existed the team were able to create a methodologically sound clean dataset that made the most use of the open response fields to get some personal stories to supplement the quantitative data.
The final dataset had 896 LGBTQ respondents from around Tanzania. Based on the findings in the dataset the team created two fictional characters who would humanise the topic to the audience, they are called Manka and Mashaka, and are two young adults grappling with their sexual identities.
The team wanted to create a campaign that was targeted at members of the LGBTQ community who have not come out yet (e.g. Manka) and their friends and family.
They wanted to create awareness about discrimination and marginalisation of LGBTQ people in Tanzania. The team spent a long time discussing what was the best tone of voice and approach considering the current political climate and they decided that the tone needed to be friendly and inclusive, free of jargon and cliches, using soft messages prompting action through empathy.
The team named the campaign #IamBinadam, which means “I am human in Swahili”. It is a bilingual campaign in Swahili and English that is based around the concept of “Ujamaa” which is a well known Tanzanian concept of familyhood and community. The team used Shorthand to build the project and built it as a mobile-first experience. It’s been widely shared by LGBTQ Tanzanians who have used it as a tool to come out to parents and friends and start a discussion about the discrimination they face. The last part of the campaign aims to collect more data on this theme through a short publicly available survey form.
The team relied heavily on illustrations and graphic design to tell this story, using the colours of the Tanzanian flag the yellow, green, blue and black as well as red as a contrast colour to signify urgency and emotion. It uses simple but effective data visualisation techniques such as bubble charts and barcharts to showcase the data.
Overall, the digital campaign was a huge success despite being the first of its kind in Tanzania. The campaign itself had a large number of website visitors and also engagement on social media. The majority of social media updates were in Swahili and used #IamBinadam branded assets such as videos, animated GIFs, data visualisations, quotes etc that the team had created together, ensuring that the campaign had a consistent look and feel throughout.
The #IamBinadam campaign has won the Shorthand “courageous newcomer” award in 2018 and was long listed for the Information is Beautiful Awards for 2018. The activists behind the campaign have been able to build upon its success to secure funding for related projects, they are some of the bravest people we have ever met.