EISA Long Term Observers (LTOs) observing the launch of Civic and Voter Education (CVE) in Monrovia have noted the importance of edutainment as the campaign season unfolds. On 1 August 2023, the National Elections Commission (NEC) organized a women kickball game, which pitched the NEC-CVE Team against the Cells-CVE team. The former comprised members of staff of NEC while the latter was made up of members of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) selected by the NEC to conduct CVE in their respective communities. The game did not only entertain the spectators at Invincible Sports Park, Monrovia but also educate them on the need to participate fully in the forthcoming elections as part of their constitutional duties towards strengthening democracy in Liberia.
- Entertainment, anywhere and everywhere, is a veritable tool for creating and raising awareness on socio-political andeconomic issues among members of the public. In this present age, information and education programs are always revolved around entertainment to make maximum impacts on the target audience, hence the coinage, ‘Edutainment’ or ‘Infotainment.’
- CVE for the elections was officially launched in Monrovia on 3 August 2023, after a month-long delay.
- EISA observers are following the campaign process in 12 of the 15 counties of Liberia.
- The IEOM has identified clashes between political party supporters as a leading conflict trigger during campaigns.
The Women Kickball Game was used as a prelude to the Official Launch of CVE for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections held at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission (NEC). It was commendable to observe about 250 youths drawn from various CBOs and NEC CVE Department in NEC branded T-shirts and Caps of different colors gathering around the Old Ministry of Defense Building, Benson Street, Downtown Monrovia, which served as a take-off point for a long march that took them to the NEC headquarters. It was an afternoon of entertainment galore on the road – songs accompanied by musical instruments such as drums and trumpets spiced up the march. The messages of the march were clear, ‘Citizens Participation, A Must’, and ‘Election Is Everybody’s Business’.
The EISA International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) appreciates that the CVE launch in Monrovia was warmly received following considerable delays (CVE was supposed to start on 4 July 2023) that have resulted in the overlapping of important electoral activities. At county level, the NEC magisterial offices have cited delays in launching CVE due to financial and logistical constraints. The delay at county level is worrying considering the need for citizens to receive credible information about the upcoming election activities. As campaigns heat up, CVE is even more important considering the casket incident, where Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) supporters carried a casket with a picture of the Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate on 5 August 2023 and the violent clash between supporters of the CDC and the UP on 10 August 2023. In this respect, there is a need for constant CVE efforts that will serve as the moral compass for political candidates as they campaign and encourage supporters of all candidates to refrain from impulsive and reckless acts. The use of edutainment in CVE is even more important in appealing to Liberian youth within political structures to maintain peace and order as they exercise their rights to participate in electoral activities.
About USAID Support to EISA-IEOM to Liberia: The USAID-funded EISA International Election Observation Mission (EISA-IEOM) Activity seeks to enhance theintegrity of the 2023 Liberia Presidential and Legislative elections through the deployment of an independent international election observer mission (EOM)to monitor, assess and report on all phases of the electoral process in accordance with international and regional benchmarks. The IEOM is implemented inclose coordination with the financial support of USAID/Liberia and will complement the efforts of other electoral stakeholders.