The safe male circumcision (SMC) campaign aimed at school going males has succeeded beyond expectation. The SWAGG campaign, run by health awareness NGO PSI Botswana has managed to outperform its set target of 11000, managing 11850 safe male circumcisions in a space of three weeks.According to Mpho Motlhabane, Marketing and Communications manager at PSI, the campaign’s objective was to reach out to male students between the ages of13 to 18 in schools all around the country.
Motlhabane said, “ We had to devise a message that was creative and would catch their attention, and through working with schools, we were able to come up with the SWAGG campaign.” The word Swagg has come to represent young urban hipness and cool status thus recognisable to the age group. As part of the campaign PSI is running a competition which students are expected to encourage each other to ‘trim’. The school with the most number of circumcisions will win a prize. Another competition has been run on local radio stations with the help of Hip Hop artist Drama Boi and Mafi a Soul Clothing , where “all they have to do is call in and express themselves, through rapping/freestyle, singing and poetry.
The best of the day wins a Mafi a Soul hamper,” said Motlhabane. In having Drama Boi front the campaign Motlhabane said they specifi cally wanted him because he is relevant to the target on the ground, “We are trying to reach out in a language that is relevant and they can understand, ” she said. A testimonial shared by a teacher, Mrs. Metswi from Werda Primary School in the Kgalagadi area revealed that the program has been strongly embraced by students. She said that the benefi ts of circumcision were taught to students in sessions during study period before the school holidays commenced and with the encouragement of SMC club in their school.
They have been able to get about 200 students trimmed by the third week of the program. Motlhabane said though they have reached their target, PSI will continue with the program to get as many young boys to circumcise as possible. She said while this age group has generally not reached sexual maturity yet, as circumcising is said to reduce chances of attracting HIV infections by up to 60%, they encourage them to trim for hygiene purposes. The program continues with outreach through TV, radio, newspapers and social media with the ‘free to evolve’ page on facebook.