Hard-hitting contemporary drama puts the spotlight on vulnerable African teens

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‘MTV Shuga: Down South’ stars Samkelisiwe Makhoba as Khensani and Stephanie Sandows as Tsholo.

An irresponsible teen mom. A predatory teacher. An ambitious hostess. A conflicted adolescent struggling to understand his identity. A neglected trophy wife. A pregnant schoolgirl. A possessive boyfriend. A ruthless entrepreneur.

These are just some of the faces of MTV Shuga: Down South, the 12- part new drama series from MTV Staying Alive Foundation and MTV Base. The show premieres on Wednesday, 8 March on MTV Base (South Africa) on at 9.30pm CAT and on MTV Base (rest of Africa) at 10.05pm WAT.

Set in the homes, cafés, schools, parks and hangouts of fictional township, Zenzele, and real-life Braamfontein, MTV Shuga: Down South is the fifth instalment in the award-winning drama series, MTV Shuga.

With powerful contemporary storylines, relatable characters and an ensemble cast of talented actors and contemporary musicians, the series uses drama to spread important public health messages.

Directed by Mmabatho Montsho, Thabang Moleya and Rea Rangaka, the latest instalment includes a new focus on issues affecting adolescent girls in South Africa, with a particular emphasis on their vulnerability to unintended pregnancy and HIV infection.

Never one to shy away from difficult subjects, MTV Shuga: Down South is crowded with interweaving stories of heartbreak, love, betrayal and difficult decisions among contemporary South African youth. Other key plots include transactional sex, living with HIV, infidelity and issues affecting LGBT teens.

In keeping with the contemporary tone of the drama, popular musicians Seyi Shay, Fifi Cooper and Kwesta make cameo appearances as themselves, while Mohau Cele returns in the role of dissatisfied schoolgirl/singer Bongi.

Also back is Emmanuel Ikubese as HIV positive music promoter Femi, while Nick Mutuma reprises his role of good boy gone bad, Leo. Vanessa Mdee plays Storm, wife to Clint Brink’s Rakeem.

Says Alex Okosi, executive vice president and managing director of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa: “Pro-social programming that empowers our audience is an important part of our MTV Base brand. MTV Shuga deals with real issues facing young people through authentic storylines and characters, and we are excited to premiere this latest series, based in South Africa.”

Georgia Arnold, executive director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation adds: “Previous seasons of MTV Shuga has been proven to change young peoples’ behaviour and attitudes relating to safe sex and HIV.

“Moved to a South African setting and context for the first time, we know that MTV Shuga: Down South will make further strides in changing attitudes to unplanned pregnancies, LGBT awareness and other health and emotional issues among South African youth.”

Catch MTV Shuga: Down South on TV Base (DStv channel 322). The series will also be heading to BET (DStv channel 129), other Viacom owned networks including BET International (UK/France), and third party broadcasters including SABC (South Africa), NTA (Nigeria), Citizen TV (Kenya), KBC (Kenya), GHONE (Ghana), RTNC (DRC), Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation (Tanzania), NBS TV (Uganda), African Movie Channel US (USA), and TV Brasil (Brazil).

Ads part of the MTV Shuga campaign there will be a 15-part radio drama series, a peer educator programme, comic book, audience polling, consumer helplines, mobile information service, social media and a range of digital platforms.

For more information go to http://www.MTVShuga.com, like MTV Shuga on Facebook, or follow MTV Shuga on Twitter or Instagram @MTVShuga using the hashtag #MTVShugaDS.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Pioneered in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009, MTV Shuga is a long-running drama series and multimedia campaign that follows the lives of young people on the African continent.
  • Aired on MTV channels around the world, the content is also offered rights-free to third party broadcasters and content platforms, and used as a teaching aid by educators, healthcare workers and grassroots HIV/AIDS organisations around the world.
  • Over four series, the drama has crossed the continent from Kenya to Nigeria and touched on numerous plotlines relating to HIV and safe sex including HIV testing, stigma, living with HIV, mother to child transmission, transactional sex, gender-based violence, and condom use.

To view full episodes of MTV Shuga, series 1-4, visit http://www.mtvshuga.com

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