[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
NAIROBI, 15 September (PLUSNEWS) - A huge media campaign has been
urging young Kenyans to 'chill' - or abstain from sex - in a bid
to curb HIV transmission.
'Nime Chill' - Swahili-English slang meaning 'I have chilled' or
'I am abstaining' - seeks to reduce peer pressure among urban
youths aged between 10 and 15 to have sex early. The campaign has
used media personalities and politicians to promote abstinence,
and even President Mwai Kibaki has been photographed giving the
two-fingered 'V' Nime Chill salute.
"The campaign aims to create an environment where abstinence is
seen as a viable choice for youths. It destigmatises the topic
and gets youths to discuss the subject," explained Lucy Mikweki,
behaviour change communication programme manager for Population
Services International (PSI), a nongovernmental organisation
(NGO) involved in family planning and one of the campaign
The programme, funded by the United States Agency for
International Development, began in September 2004 and the first
phase is drawing to a close.
One Nime Chill advert features several youths leaning out of a
minibus taxi, with the captions reading: "Sex? No way, tume chill
[we're chilling]," and "We won't be taken for a ride. Ni poa
kuchill [it's cool to chill]."
At a government-run high school in the capital, Nairobi, several
students told PlusNews they had heard of the campaign through
television, radio and billboard advertising, but did not fully
understand what it meant.
"Nime Chill means to abstain, and if you can't abstain, use
condoms," said Eunist Mumo, one of the students. While it may
have reduced peer pressure from friends, the young people said
they still felt the pressure from commercial adverts and the
They had been receiving sex education since the age of 10 and
Mumo said it had "become like a song to us now, it's common to
everyone and not embarrassing".
But an overload of sex education could have mixed results. "It
makes us want to know what it [sex] is, we want to experience
it," said Nelson Lomolo.
"Youths enjoy sex - they enjoy it more than anything - and being
told to abstain only reduces the number of times we have sex,"
PSI, in an evaluation of the campaign, found no evidence that
Nime chill "had a direct effect" on young people remaining
abstinent, but nevertheless concluded that the campaign merited
continuation, in the hope that "early persuasion efforts will
have an impact on subsequent behaviour".
In an extension the popular campaign, PSI now plans to implement
a 'Chill Clubs' programme in 250 primary schools in five Kenyan
districts to improve confidence and self-esteem among pre-teens,
and address barriers to delayed sexual debut.