Youth and music channel MTV Base and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation are to tap into the creativity of Nigeria’s flourishing entertainment industry in the creation and realisation of Shuga, the globally acclaimed, award-winning TV drama about sex, youth and relationships.

The third series of Shuga will be produced and filmed in Nigeria for the first time ever, utilising a predominantly Nigerian cast and crew.  Celebrated Nigerian film-maker Biyi Bandele, director of the hotly anticipated feature film of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’sHalf of a Yellow Sun”, will direct the 8-part series.  Crafting the screenplay for Shuga is a team of Nigerian writers led by award-winning scriptwriter Kemi Adesoye (“Tinsel”, “The Figurine”,Doctors Quarters”, “National Cake”), who was hand-picked for the project by Bandele after he saw her screenplay for “Phone Swap”.

Fusing sexual health messaging with gripping storylines, Shuga is part of a powerful 360-degree mass media campaign designed to raise awareness about HIV prevention and teen pregnancy in Nigeria, after research highlighted widespread ignorance about or indifference to contraception, poor access to contraceptives, and a significantly high incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the region. 

Set in Lagos, Shuga series 3 will star Nigerian actor and musician Ikubese Emmanuel Ifeanyichukwu, aka 9con, who will reprise his role as smooth-talking bad boy Femi from Shuga series 2. Kenyan actor, singer and radio presenter Nick Mutuma,24, a veteran of Shuga series 1 and 2, will revisit the role of Leo, one of Shuga’s most popular characters.  A number of popular Nigerian musicians are also expected to be involved in cameo and acting roles, following hit turns by Banky W and WizKid in Shuga season 2.  Further cast members and roles will be revealed at a later date.

The third series of Shuga will see the action move to Lagos following two seasons set among the bars, hangout joints and clubs of Nairobi, Kenya.  Specific themes that will be addressed in the series include the reality of living with HIV in Nigeria, maternal and child health, family planning, teen pregnancy, gender-based violence, gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

Pre-production of the hard-hitting, multi-episode drama is already well underway and principal photography is scheduled to take place in August/September 2013.  The series will premiere on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322), Nigerian terrestrial broadcasters and other MTV networks and third party broadcasters around the world from World AIDS Day (1 December 2013).

Speaking about his involvement in the Nigerian series of Shuga, Biyi Bandele said, “I was attracted to Shuga because it is special, it’s great… it’s doing something that no other TV series in Africa is doing right now. It is essentially is saying to young people: the future is yours, but you have got to take responsibility for your own life, you’ve got to take responsibility for yourself.” Continued Bandele, “It’s crucial that Nigerians tell our own stories. When you do that, you find that your target audience immediately responds, there is no translation to be made, you don’t have to do any special pleading – they’re just there with you immediately.”   

Musing on her goals for the seriesin Nigeria, Kemi Adesoye commented, “In bringing Shuga to Nigeria, I hope that we embrace it, we learn from it, we’re entertained by it - and it changes our lives. I’d like Shuga to help start a conversation between friends, between families about issues about certain taboo issues in people’s lives, about talking about HIV, talking about pregnancy.  We do not need to stigmatize, we need to understand, we need to be kinder to each other, we need to try to understand and not hide from the issues anymore.”

Other elements of the Shuga campaign will include a radio drama series, a peer educator programme, a comic book in Hausa and English, a mobile information service, social media, and a range of digital platforms.

Shuga is to be produced by MTV Base and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation in collaboration with NACA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund).  Other partners include Girl Hub, a partnership between the Nike Foundation and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) which helps transform the lives of adolescent girls living in poverty by engaging the girls themselves as active participants.  PEPFAR (The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has also expressed a commitment to support the campaign. CLICK HERE to learn more about Shuga's partners.

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Copyright : MTV Base