Nostalgic Re-Union at MTV Shuga Season 6 Premiere

Emmanuel Ikubese and Georgia Arnold

Nseobong Okon-Ekong

The recent premiere of MTV Shuga, the television drama series that follows the lives of African youths which is now in its sixth season attracted a good mix of past characters and fresh faces in the play to the venue, Filmhouse IMAX Cinema at Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Created in 2009 by MTV Staying Alive Foundation, an international content-producing and grant-giving charitable organization dedicated to preventing HIV among young people, and combating the stigma and discrimination, it debuted in Kenya and is distributed across MTV channels and with third-party broadcasters.

Over five seasons, the drama has crossed the continent from Kenya to Nigeria and onto South Africa 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. “MTV Shuga” is multi-award winning, most recently winning the Third Sector Award for Big Impact and the World Media Festival, Gold Award for Edutainment & Intermedia-Globe Grand Award in 2016.

Making a return to Nigeria in its sixth season with an apt tag, “MTV Shuga Naija”, the drama features a stellar cast and a powerful story. Season 6 promises engaging, captivating, suspenseful and twitter-ready moments that homegrown MTV Shuga is renowned for.

The full cast of local talent includes MTV Shuga veterans who make an appearance to consolidate their roles from Season 4. Timini Egbuson, Jemima Osunde, Sharon Ezeamaka and Olumide Oworu all make a warm return to our screens. New cast members making their debut in season 6 are Ozzy Agu, Rahama Sadau, Amal Umar, Yakubu Muhammad, Bolanle Olukanni, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, Nobert Young, Bukola Oladipupo, Alvin Abayomi, and Helena Nelson along with many more new faces.

Globally regarded as Africa’s most viewed youth-focused series, “MTV Shuga” has since inception in 2009 grown local cultural and social relevance on a continent which is rich in social diversity and culture and where countries are wanting content in local languages that resonates with them culturally.

MTV SHUGA Season 6 features a plot that both in storyline and visually, portrays the vibrant streets, eclectic clubs along with the bustle of Lagos metropolis along with the contrasting Northern Kano and Kaduna regions.

MTV Shuga Naija is produced by award-winning writer/filmmaker and MTV Shuga Season 4 Producer Chris Ihidero working together with Emma Uduma and award-winning Nigerian directors, Tolulope Ajayi, Ishaya Bako and Tope Oshin.

MTV SHUGA is a great example of where the format and story line resonates globally. This series together with pulsating entertainment and pop culture is where MTV Shuga Naija weaves in stories that will speak to young people across Nigeria and the many gatekeepers they have to engage with as they navigate choices about safe sex, family planning, the use of contraceptives, peer pressure, domestic and sexual violence.

“We are thrilled to be bringing MTV Shuga back to Nigeria. We can’t wait to share the exciting new storylines and important messaging on family planning and sexual health that we’re touching on this season. We’ll explore more issues that affect young people and highlight the reality faced by many adolescents in their everyday lives, as well as the choices they can make to empower themselves,” said Georgia Arnold, Executive Director, MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility for MTV Networks International
Commenting on the return of MTV Shuga, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa), Alex Okosi, said: “VIMN Africa is committed to empowering young people in Africa, and through MTV Shuga, we address key social issues affecting young people through realistic storylines and characters that resonate with them. The series seeks to impart knowledge and empower the youth to take positive action towards their health and lives.”

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MTV Staying Alive has also worked with Lagos State Ministry of Health, Hello Lagos, Nurhi, Adolescent 360 (SFH) and DKT to ensure accurate and relevant messaging throughout the scripts. MTV Shuga is working to improve knowledge, attitudes and behaviour with regards to sexual and reproductive health and increase the uptake of family planning services and commodities in Nigeria, with particular focus on adolescent girls (15-19) and young women (20-24).

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