Sesame Street: Nigerian Style
“Sesame Street,” once a mainstay for a generation of Nigerian children who grew up with the U.S. show on the state-run TV network, will return to screens in Africa’s most populous nation this fall, funded by American taxpayers but distinctively Nigerian.
Produced and voiced by Nigerians in formal – if squeaky – English, the show aims to educate a country nearly half of whose 150 million people are 14 or younger. Its issues focus on the challenges faced by children in a country where many have to work instead of going to school: AIDS, malaria nets, gender equality – and yams, a staple of Nigerian meals.
“Nigeria is diverse; we have 250 different ethnic groups, so many different languages. We don’t have the same customs; we do think differently,” executive producer Yemisi Ilo said. But “children are children. All children love songs and all children love furry, muppety animal-type things.”
Renamed “Sesame Square,” the show will air 26 episodes in the first of its scheduled three seasons, with one show for each letter of the alphabet.