Nearly 3,000 Swahili speakers were quizzed during a BBC roadshow which toured 12 towns in Kenya and Tanzania and an overwhelming number were fans of Arsenal football club and described Thierry Henry as their favourite player.
Told of the response, an Arsenal spokesperson said: “As a club we are thrilled so many football fans in Africa pick Arsenal and Thierry Henry as their favourite Premier League club and player. We work hard to maintain links with supporters worldwide, through community outreach projects and supporter initiatives, and hope that those links grow stronger over the comings seasons.”
The poll was designed to inform the BBC Swahili service’s new English Premier League football programme, BBC Ulimwengu Wa Soka (BBC World Of Football). It asked participants whether they watched the English Premier League and who their favourite teams and players were.
Almost 90% of those who took part in the poll said they watched the English Premier League with Arsenal and Thierry Henry proving to be the favourite in the towns of, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombassa in Kenya and Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Moshi, Mwanza, and Tanga in Tanzania.
In Kenya the second most popular team were Chelsea (15%) followed very closely by Manchester United (14%). Didier Drogba, Kanu and Samuel Eto were the only African footballers to make the top ten favourite players list alongside Christiano Ronaldo, Faberges, Frank Lampard, Ryan Giggs, Stephen Gerrald and Wayne Rooney.
In Tanzania Manchester United was the second most popular team (23%) ahead of Chelsea (12%). Didier Drogba was the only African footballer to make the top ten favourite players list which also included Christiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand, Stephen Gerrald and Wayne Rooney.
BBC Swahili has almost 5.1 million weekly listeners in Kenya and 12.9 million weekly listeners in Tanzania. It took its BBC – Your Compass to the World roadshow to major towns so it could meet listeners face to face and debate with them and local news makers the issues that matter. BBC Swahili broadcast a live half hour from each town via their evening programme Dira ya Dunia. It met around 38,000 people in total and toured 2,197km (1,373 miles).
The most popular live event took place in at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where 10,000 people came to meet the team and take part in the live programme. The second most popular live event took place in Mombasa, Kenya which was attended by 5,000 people. Throughout the roadshow 1,250 t-shirts, 1,250 caps, 3,000 pens and 10,000 post cards were given away promoting BBC Swahili, its frequencies and its text number.
In addition to the football questions, the poll also asked what people thought of BBC Swahili and its news and current affairs output. Asked why they came to the roadshow 34% of those polled said they came to specifically meet the BBC presenters and 21% said they hoped to meet BBC presenters again face-to-face – indicating an appetite for more on-the-ground activity. On what topics most people would like to discuss in the future, tribalism and politics (16%) came tops closely followed by HIV/Aids (13%) and sport (12%).
85% of the respondents were male
64% of respondents were aged 30 or under
27% of respondents declared themselves self-employed
34% of respondents attended the roadshow to meet BBC presenters with 31% coming to learn more about the BBC
39% of respondents enjoyed meeting the BBC most about the roadshow with 33% enjoying the entertainment most
The most requested thing people wanted more of in the future was seeing the presenters live (21%)
The topics most people requested to be discussed in the future on BBC Swahili were tribalism/politics (16%), HIV/AIDS (13%) and sport (12%)
89% of respondents watch the English Premier League
Arsenal was overwhelming the most popular team in both countries and Thierry Henry the most popular player