Nigeria’s Sesame Street equivalent, Sesame Square, will follow in the footsteps of South Africa’s Sesame Street by including an HIV-positive Muppet named Tammy (left), a five-year-old girl who the Sesame Workshop describes as “perky, jovial, and intelligent,” with an interest in reading and sports, especially soccer. Sesame’s senior director of international projects told CNN that they and their local advisors consider public health and hygiene “something that absolutely has to be addressed on the show.”
CNN on the challenges of adapting regional differences to the beloved worldwide franchise:
If we’re writing scripts for programs in Nigeria, the writers will be Nigerian scriptwriters,” explains Farouky. “We’ll often look for people who already have some experience in writing, but because we’re aware [of] the format that we use and the methodology that we use, we’ll provide training on how to write.”
According to Farouky, collaboration is at the heart of the production process. “We work with our local teams to find ways in which we take the content that’s important to them, to infuse the project with the cultural values, making sure we know which the taboo issues are and which are not,” she told CNN.
“Our program is hosted by two muppets, a boy and a girl,” she told CNN. “And because there is an entire region in Nigeria up in the North which is very Muslim, we had to be very sensitive. Even our publicity pictures could not have the muppets hugging, which we would normally have,” she explained.