By Tony Nwanne
Talented actors, Emmanuel Ikubese and Adesua Etomi are joining the likes of Vanessa Mdee, Thuso Mbedu, Mohau Mokoatle Cele, Jezriel Skei, Nick Mutuma as part of the fresh ensemble cast for the upcoming fifth series of MTV Shuga.
Produced by the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and MTV Base, MTV Shuga, an award-winning ”edutainment” drama that has been proven to actively change behaviour relating to HIV prevention, is going into production in Johannesburg, South Africa in December.
It will turn its lens on the issues of sexual and reproductive health among teenagers and young women in the region.
Having successfully highlighted issues affecting young people in Kenya and Nigeria for nearly a decade, MTV Shuga is using powerful contemporary storylines and relatable characters to disseminate public health messages targeted squarely at South African youth, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and their vulnerability to HIV infection and unintended pregnancy.
Crowded with interweaving stories of heartbreak, love, betrayal and difficult decisions among contemporary South African youth, MTV Shuga is supported by South Africa’s Department of Basic Education, PEPFAR (The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), Marie Stopes International, ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action MSM & Transgender Programme, CIFF (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation) and FHI 360 (Family Health International).
The news follows a recent report from UNAIDS which demonstrates that the years between 15 and 24 are the most dangerous time for young women when it comes to HIV infection.
Globally, in 2015, around 7,500 young women became newly infected with HIV every week and in southern Africa, girls aged between 15 and 19 years accounted for 90 percent of all new HIV infections among 10–19-year-olds.
Set in the cool clubs, hangouts and schools of Braamfontein and the fictional township of “Zenzele”, MTV Shuga will see the return of veteran cast member and former “Mr Nigeria” Ikubese Emmanuel Ifeanyi in the role of “Femi”, a music promoter from Nigeria who’s been living with HIV for four years, while Adesua Etomi reprises the role of Femi’s girlfriend, “Sheila”.
Also returning is South African actress Mohau Mokoatle Cele (who plays dissatisfied teenage singer, “Bongi”) as is Nick Mutuma’s “Leo” who’s looking to find some escape from his past actions.
Tanzanian TV and radio personality and recording star Vanessa Mdee will interpret the role of “Storm” – a dissatisfied trophy wife with a wandering eye. Also joining the cast is “Scandal!” actor Thuso Mbedu, who will play the role of Ipeleng, an ambitious schoolgirl who’s bringing up her younger brother after the death of her mother, while 17-year old Jezriel Skei, best known for his award-winning turn in “Four Corners” (2013) will create the new role of soccer-mad macho-man “Q” or “Quinton”.
MTV Shuga will premiere on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322)) and BET (DStv channel 129) and other terrestrial broadcasters and other MTV networks and third party broadcasters around the world from 8 March 2017. Other elements of the MTV Shuga campaign will include a radio drama series, peer educator programme, comic book, mobile information service, social media and a range of digital platforms