Six part drama series Shuga: Love, Sex, Money will start on Pay-TV music and youth channel MTV Base on Tuesday 14 February. The series follows the complicated loves, lives and sexual behaviour of a group of young people living in Nairobi, Kenya and aims to send a message on HIV and AIDS.
Set in the bars, clubs and ghettoes of Kenya, the series continues and expands on the stories and themes begun in Shuga (series I), which premiered around the world in 2009.
Shuga: Love, Sex, Money is directed by award winning South African Teboho Mahlatsi of The Bomb Shelter alongside Kenyan co-director Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan documentary maker and actress who appears as Ayira in the series.
The project was conceived as a vehicle for communicating and promoting messages about sexual health among African youth and for effecting real behavioural change among young people. The series has been produced by MTV Networks Africa in conjunction with The MTV Staying Alive Foundation, PEPFAR (a US Government initiative) and the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation (HFG). The producers work closely with the Government of Kenya to ensure the programme fits within Kenya’s existing HIV prevention strategy.
The series will premiere in Africa weekly on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322) from Tuesday 14 February at 9:30pm CAT (8:30pm WAT; 10:30pm EAT) for six weeks until the 20 March, and will also air on multiple terrestrial broadcasters around the world (channels and transmission times TBC). There will be six episodes, followed by a one-hour synopsis episode.
Principle photography for the series took place in Kenya (Nairobi and Malindi) in August and September 2011.
Among the storylines in the new series are rape, transactional sex and homosexuality. Other issues to be explored include HIV testing, stigma, condom use, gender inequity and the role of multiple concurrent partnerships in driving the HIV epidemic.
The stories are told through a brilliant young ensemble cast that includes Kenyan singer Avril (Miss B’have), Sharon Olago (Violet), David Omwange (Skola), Nick Mutuma (Leo), Antony Mwangi (Kennedy), Valerie Kimani (Sindi), Nick Ndeda (Angelo), Nancy Wanjiku (Baby), Brenda Wairimu (Dala), Edward Nyanaro (Rayban), Christopher Otieno (Slim) and Wairugi Mutero (Njoki).
Nigerian artists Banky W and Wiz Kid both play themselves in the series, performing during emotionally hard-hitting club scenes while Kenya-based Nigerian musician Ikubese Emmanuel – a.k.a. 9con – plays the role of Femi.
Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University/Centre for Communications Programs in Kenya following the airing of Shuga (series I) reported increased intentions for HIV testing, decreased intentions for multiple sex partners, improved attitudes towards people living with HIV and AIDS and increased usage of accessible health and social services among the youth. In May 2010, Shuga won a prestigious Gold award at the World Media Festival in Hamburg, Germany in the “Public Relations: Health’ category, for its vivid and uncompromising focus on love, emotions and sexual behaviour amongst Kenyan youth.