White Dove (Farar Tattabara) Alternative Messaging Hub in N. Nigeria

This project produces and disseminates innovative radio, television, and social media programming with the goal of strengthening positive local narratives that reduce vulnerability to violent extremism in Northern Nigeria.

A Project of
Nigeria, Sahel, US State Department

Project Mission — To create positive social change for millions of under-served people across Northern Nigeria, by providing critically needed information and education through innovative media appropriate technology and direct community engagement.

There are no people we look up to. But now with your Ina Mafita [radio] program, we have hope and are starting to see ourselves as the solution.”  

– Young listeners from Borno State (who was once a member of Boko Haram and now volunteers for a community self-defense force)

Launched in 2016 and expanded in 2018, the White Dove (Farrar Tattabara, in Hausa) CVE Alternative Messaging Hub produces and disseminates innovative radio, television, and social media programming across all 19 states in Northern Nigeria and parts of the Lake Chad region. The goal is to strengthen positive local narratives that reduce vulnerability to violent extremism in Northern Nigeria.

After nearly ten years of insurgency and counter-insurgency, there is a need for new strategies, like EAI’s, that prioritize youth civic engagement in transforming radicalization in Northern Nigeria. As Boko Haram’s leadership fragments along ideological lines, there is a unique opportunity to use strategic communications to provide alternative narratives to the group’s violent messages and influences. This includes fostering dialogue about what people across the North want society to look like, including creating space for the rehabilitation and reintegration of former fighters and others abducted during the conflict.

 

PROJECT ACTIVITIES:

With generous support and collaboration from the US Embassy in Abuja and the US State Department, this project is guided by the following objectives:

  • Citizens in Northern Nigeria have access to high-quality programs that espouse peace, tolerance, and respect for the rule of law;
  • Radio, TV, and new media programs, and complementary audience engagement platforms provide space for citizens to engage on specific CVE themes.
  • Empower youth as ambassadors of change through tech camps and capacity building.

Together, the various interventions of the White Dove platform form a powerful parallel ecosystem to rival in size and scope the networks and influence of violent extremist groups by promoting social cohesion, youth empowerment, and a new generation of tech-savvy pro-peace activists and influencers with the tools, agency, and opportunities to transform violent extremism.

On the topic of radicalization, one traditional leader from Borno State said, “the truth is that many current members don’t know the reasons why they’re engaged in the insurgency. But to de-radicalize them, we must first understand them and their ideas. Without this understanding, we will fail at rehabilitating them.”

Weekly, tens of millions of Nigerians engage with White Dove through our original radio programs Ina Mafita (The Way Forward) and Ilimi Abin Nema (The Pursuit of Knowledge), our television programming, produced in partnership with AREWA24, as well as our innovative research and digital campaigns. White Dove has enabled EAI to forward pioneering countering violent extremism (CVE) related research, launch tech4peace Hackathons and mobilize vulnerable communities through Listening, Discussion, and Action Groups (LDAG) while also facilitating training, mentorship, and fellowships to dozens of Peace Ambassadors.

Whether they participate as members of Boko Haram, are at risk of radicalization, or represent vulnerable and neglected communities, EAI takes an asset-based approach that channels and reorients the voices and visions of young women and men toward the creation of local solutions and opportunities for reframing this seemingly intractable conflict.

These young people have too often been perceived through the lens of their risk, rather than their potential contribution to social change and peace, thus further marginalizing and pushing them into destructive life decisions. Gendered stereotypes exacerbate these dynamics, with young women and young men seen and treated differently, adding to the stigma these young people experience. An inclusive and humanizing strategy would strengthen trust and understanding between security actors and young people at risk of radicalization, and would empower young people to take positions of leadership on the side of peace.

This ongoing project has already changed the lives of thousands of people. As outlined in The Way Forward assessment, not only do people like the programs and relate to our fictional characters and hosts, listeners are finding inspiration in the ambitions of the characters, are providing support to victims, and are starting small businesses. When we asked if people changed their behavior or attitude around issues such as non-violence, gender inclusion, and supporting youth as a result of listening to our shows – 90 percent reported a positive change in their behavior. Listeners tell us that they listen regularly to our programs because they are hungry for role models; for positive examples; for information; and for inspiration.

Listeners enthusiastically told us that “White Dove is a lifeline for us,” and that, “Ina Mafita helps us to understand that bad things can be changed.” When asked to describe the role of White Dove in his life, one young internally displaced man said: “Ina Mafita is like a school where we go to learn. Ilimi Abin Nema is like a hospital where we go to cure ourselves.” At the end of several weeks of research and hundreds of interviews across nine states and Abuja, one thing became clear: The White Dove programs are empowering a new generation of role models and informed messengers who are actively working to improve the lives of their families, friends, and communities across northern Nigeria as a direct result of information and inspiration they are receiving from the shows.

Being an advocate for peace fulfills me though it has been a very hard journey. I believe that within the six months of my fellowship with [EAI] I will make a difference in the minds of youth like me to shun violence and embrace peace.”

As a child, Muhammad wanted to become a military officer. It seemed like an obvious thing to do after being raised in the midst of constant insecurity: he’d lost his parents at the age of two and had to flee by foot to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, following an insurgency in Bama. Grateful to have been raised by his sisters, uncles, and aunts, he says optimism is the key:

"Youth have to be optimistic and know that good things never come easy and know that success never comes to you, you have to go for it.”

Muhammad, 20, lives in Maiduguri with his uncle where he is completing his degree in marketing. He is committed to bringing about a peaceful and violence-free Nigeria as a certified peace ambassador.

“Ina Mafita empowers youth by providing solutions about the challenges we face. It informs the youth, which is vital because information is power. To be positive you need to be informed.”

Impact & Reach of this Project

90%

reported changing their behavior in a positive direction

15 Million

listeners reached weekly

70%

reported spreading the word and encouraging others to listen to Ina Mafita

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