Takalani Sesame, begun in 2000 in a country where more than half of children lack access to preschool, recently launched its 13th season! Generously supported by the LEGO Foundation, Takalani Sesame employs playful learning techniques to address a range of early childhood development needs—from literacy, math, and life skills to instilling in children a greater sense of self and nurturing their readiness for lifelong learning. Currently broadcasting on SABC, Takalani is complemented by outreach programs that engage children, caregivers, and teachers in their communities and schools.
In the newest season of Takalani Sesame, some of South African families’ favorite celebrities team up with beloved Takalani friends to help children build resilience by developing critical social-emotional skills. Alongside Elmo, Zuzu, Zikwe, and Kami, children learn to identify and name big emotions such as feeling scared, angry, or sad—and begin to manage them through techniques like belly breathing, counting to five, or drawing it out.
Our groundbreaking character Kami helped break the culture of silence and stigma around HIV/AIDS in the early 2000s, when the epidemic affected almost every South African family. Working closely with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education, we developed the first ever HIV/AIDS curriculum for young children, centered on Kami—a bright yellow, furry, 5-year-old who happens to be HIV-positive. Cheerful Kami helped give children information, a new vocabulary, and a greater understanding—that they could play with, love, and hug friends who are HIV-positive without fear of transmission. Kami is still the star of the show that has become a beloved household name across South Africa.
As we pursue our vision of creating a better world in which all children reach their highest potential, Takalani Sesame is poised for a new dawn of exciting growth. We envision an Afrocentric show anchored on the ubuntu value system that binds African societies and communities together. From championing the principle of ‘umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ (You Are because We Are) to instilling in children the values of sharing, respect, and kindness to nurturing the spirit of living and working together, ubuntu will be at the center of what Takalani stands for and aims to achieve moving forward.