Soul City Series 4

Soul City Series 4 was broadcast in 1999 on SABC 1 television and on all 9 of the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) regional language radio stations stations (Umhlobo Wenene; Ligwalagwala; Lesedi; Thala Phala; Motswideng; Thobela Fm; Ukhozi Fm; Ikwekwezi; Munghana Lonene FM).

The print material produced by the project was distributed through 11 partner newspapers: The Cape Argus; Daily News; Echo; Ilanga; Sowetan; Daily Dispatch; Diamond Fields Advertiser; Evening Post; Pretoria News & The Star.

The fourth Soul City series is made up of:

  • A prime time television series – 13 one hour episodes
  • A daily radio drama – 45 fifteen minute episodes
  • Booklets – 3 full colour booklets
  • An advertising/publicity campaign which keeps people talking and thinking about Soul City
  • An advocacy and social mobilisation campaign on Domestic Violence

The fourth series was funded by the European Union, Department for International Development, the Japanese Government, Kagiso Trust and the Commission on Gender Equality. Commercial sponsorship came from BP and MTN.

Partnerships for Social change through Social mobilisation and Advocacy

Mass media acts as a powerful catalyst for social mobilisation and change. Its impact is enhanced through community based support structures and advocacy. To this end, Soul City IV has joined forces with the National Network on Violence Against Women (NNVAW) to provide grassroots support to Soul City audiences and to mobilise individuals and communities to take action to end women abuse. Partnership activities include a National toll-free helpline, community support and advocacy to impact on policy and legislation.

The aim of the partnership between the Soul City series and the National Network on Violence Against Women (NNVAW) is to:

  • Raise debate around violence against women
  • Inform women of their rights
  • Inform the public of legal and other remedies available to stop Women Abuse
  • Connect members of the public to help
  • Impact on attitudes and beliefs that result in violence against women
  • Mobilise individuals and communities to take action to end violence against women
  • Advocate for effective policy and legislation to eradicate violence against women.

The partnership is funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID).

Partnership activities include:

  • Advocacy skills training for NNVAW members
  • Development and implementation of an advocacy programme to impact on policy and legislation. The advocacy activities are conducted in synergy with the Soul City programme, using the many media opportunities the series provides.
  • Community level activities during the broadcast period to extend the impact of the series, advance the advocacy objectives and generate larger audiences for the series.
  • A 24-hour, toll-free helpline, established together with the Department of Justice and Lifeline, to connect Soul City audiences in need of help. Online counselling is available and a comprehensive National database has been developed to enable counsellors to refer callers to ongoing support at community level.

Given Soul City’s impact, and the fact that Soul City Four was dealing with an emotional topic like violence against women, it was felt that a safety net for our audiences needed to be set up. A 24-hour toll free helpline was therefore established. This had with start-up funding from the Department of Justice, and was managed by Lifeline South Africa. The service provides online crisis intervention counselling, as well as referrals to resources and ongoing support at a community level. A comprehensive referral database was produced by the NNVAW to facilitate this. A key objective of the fourth series has been to shift knowledge, attitudes and practices around violence against women; and to encourage individuals and communities to take action to stop abuse. The helpline is a key mechanism through which concrete action can be facilitated. The line received a staggering 20 000 calls in its first month.

Advocacy Campaign to Ensure the Effective and Speedy Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act

Community mobilisation around violence against women was catalysed throughout the broadcast period. This maximised publicity and increased the awareness generated through the Soul City mass-media vehicle. The NNVAW launched a campaign to ensure the speedy and effective implementation of the new Domestic Violence Act, to coincide with the broadcast of Soul City. The series itself conveyed substantial information on the new legislation to the general public.

NNVAW members were trained in advocacy skills, and national and provincial advocacy-related activities took place throughout the broadcast period. Soul City assisted in the development of the advocacy course and the advocacy training, and played a key role in the implementation of the campaign. Many of our celebrity actors from the television series spoke out as advocates at public meetings of the NNVAW.

A resource book on violence against women for journalists was developed to coincide with Soul City Four. The aim of the booklet was to enhance and improve the level and content of media coverage given to the issue. The booklet was produced in collaboration with the NNVAW, the Commission on Gender Equality, Women’s Media Watch and the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism.

Soul City Four generated extensive media coverage, which has helped to advance the advocacy objectives of the partnership. Soul City’s partner newspapers dedicated journalists to cover the series and its topics while the series was being shown, though the media-advocacy work that was undertaken with the NNVAW has expanded Soul City’s impact beyond the existing newspaper partnerships. This was done through the production of a Media Directory to help NNVAW advocates to access media coverage.

Evaluation is an essential part of the Soul City IHDC strategy. It helps determine impact and is important for accountability to the public as well as to funders. Lessons learned are fed back into the development of the IHDC’s future projects. All Soul City projects are independently evaluated.


  1. Contributing author: Usdin, S., Singhal, A., Shongwe, T., Goldstein, S., & Shabalala, A. No Short Cuts in Entertainment-Education: Designing "Soul City" Step-by-Step. In A. Singhal, M. Cody, E.M. Rogers, and M. Sabido (eds.) Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research, and Practice. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, London 2004.
  2. Singhal, A., Usdin, S., Scheepers, E., Goldstein, S., and Japhet, G. (in press). Harnessing the entertainment-education strategy in Africa: The Soul City intervention in South Africa. In Charles Okigbo (Ed.) Development and communication in Africa. Boston, MA: Rowman and Littlefield.
  3. Usdin, S., Christofides, N., Malepe, L., et al. The Value of Advocacy in Promoting Social Change: Implementing the New Domestic Violence Act in South Africa. Reproductive Health Matters Journal, Vol. 8, No.16, pp 55-65. November 2000
  4. Usdin, S. “Tv-entertainment and Advocacy for Better Health”, Chapter 6, in Finn Rasmussen and Bettina Ringsing (eds): Vælt dagsordenen. Kampagnen som poliktisk murbraekker [Tip over the agenda. The campaign as a political ram], Informations Forlag, Copenhagen, March 2002.

Patrick Shai Speaks Out

"I have been an actor for 27 years, playing a variety of roles with distinctions, and honored with four Best Actor Awards. When playing an abusive husband in the Soul City IV series, I first-hand experienced the pain and scars I was inflicting on my wife and children.

The events of filming that day are deeply etched in my mind. I was beating my co-actress and as she screamed her face was transformed into my wife’s face. Her pleading sounded just like my wife's and the screams of the children actors became those of my children. Mixed emotions swelled inside me. The performance was too real.

I shouted ‘Cut!’ Then I ran outside and cried. I have never experienced so much pain while performing a character. But this was not just another performance. I had a rare opportunity to see myself in a state of anger. Only this time, I could control my anger.

What really pained me that day was the realization that inflicting violence is a choice. When I fought with my wife, bringing her pain and fear, I did not make the right choice. I now know that violence with women is wrong. Thanks to Soul City, today I am a crusader against domestic violence."

Yours truly,
For all the victims of domestic violence,
Patrick Molefe Shai

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