Elmo's New Address: Sesame Square, Nigeria

May 18, 2011
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
Meet Kami and Zobi, two of the newest stars in the Sesame Street family. (Photo: Facebook).

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street in Nigeria?

Well, first off, you're actually looking for Sesame Square.

And don't bother looking for the Cookie Monster. Instead, keep an eye peeled for Zobi, his big, blue, yam-loving cousin.

Zobi, who's also a taxi driver, will probably be able to get you to Sesame Square in a jiffy. Or at least in time for this weekend's premiere of the latest Sesame Street global co-production on Nigerian television.

The new show aims to carry out the Sesame Workshop's mission of giving kids a head start on a lifetime of learning and healthy living through innovative and entertaining programming. But with an African twist in this, the continent's most populous nation.

In addition to Zobi's obsession with yams — a staple of the Nigerian diet — Sesame Square also features Kami, an HIV-positive five-year old girl Muppet who lost her mother to the disease.

Kami is always seen with her red HIV ribbon, and the show's creators hope she will bring a new awareness of the disease and help fight stereotypes about those living with HIV. UNICEF estimates that around 3 million Nigerians are living with HIV. 

According to Reuters, the show will also use a bit of humor to teach young Nigerians about dangerous health threats:

In one episode Zobi gets entangled in a mosquito net, insisting he's protecting himself from catching malaria. Kami admonishes him, saying he's is not supposed to "wear" it but to sleep under it.

Nigerian viewers will see many of the same Sesame Street characters familiar to audiences here in America. But Big Bird, Elmo, Bert, Ernie and Grover will all be dubbed over with Nigerian accents.

Sesame Square is the third Sesame Street production on the African continent, following South Africa and Egypt. Global versions of the children's television favorite have also been broadcast in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Mexico, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Palestine, and Russia.

Want a backstage look at what goes into mounting one of these international co-productions? Check out the amazing documentary The World According To Sesame Street, which was produced by TakePart's parent company Participant Media. 

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