MTV Shuga Returns with More Sociocultural Messages

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Iyke Bede

The sociocultural relevance of television series, ‘Shuga Naija’, was once again reiterated when it opened the door to hundreds of attendees for the series fourth installment premiere at the IMAX cinema in Lekki, Lagos.

The impressive turnout from fans at the premiere indicated its strong viewership among young people who gained access to view the first two episodes of the season.

In its usual tradition, the event kicked off with a red carpet session, availing the show’s cast to its excited audience. With chatter here and there, exchange of contact on social media, to taking multiple selfies with the actors, the youthful ambience that defines the show was reanimated.

The premiere was also a platform for the show’s up-and-coming actors to showcase their unique sense of style through bespoke ensembles. In all, there was a sense of identity with the concept of the premiere that not only drew fans closer to the show through entertainment, food and drinks, but also helped them grasp the social message behind it.

This further validates Country Manager, VIMN Africa, Bada Akintunde-Johnson’s claim of the show being a tool for delivering content using young people as mediums to speak on vital subject matters through entertainment.

“We have been deliberate to deliver these content using young people, and speak to issues that matter to young people,” he said.
“To be engaged, our audiences have to see scenarios, situations, and scenes that remind them of their lives or that are in tune with their everyday realities. Our aim for this show is to be entertaining while opening conversations which are sometimes very difficult to have; subject matters that society more often than not shies away from discussion.“

The return of the show on the platform of ‘Shuga Naija’ marks Nigeria as the country with the most features in the overall ‘Shuga’ series. The latest production retains most of its original Nigerian cast members from the previous season.
This season also saw the addition of new faces like Tobi Bakare (Big Brother Naija season 3 housemate), and three new cast member culled from the open auditions held earlier this year.

Season 4 which started airing on Wednesday, October 23, picks up from the struggles and dilemma Faa (Adebukola Oladipupo) faces catering for her siblings and the scandal surrounding her sexual assault.
In a new twist, Tobi (Timini Egbuson) bumps into his long lost sister in the most unlikely scenario. Bearing similar fate as Faa, Frances (Ruby Akubueze), a high school student, is torn between confronting her demons in the midst of reproach from her peers following her sexual abuse incident.

The narrative for ‘Shuga Naija 4’ places focus on family planning and contraception. This, in turn, has inspired the theme spinoff documentary, ‘Shuga in Real Life: Young Moms’ to project the perspective of young, teenage moms in school.

Just like last year’s documentary that explored subjects as rape, sex, and consent using actual account from victims, this year, the documentary reflects light on teen pregnancy, contraception, sex education and rehabilitation for these girls to get back into the schooling system.

Explaining the concept behind the documentary, director Tope Oshin said: “The idea of ‘Shuga in Real Life’ is to locate people in real life situations mimicking the stories that we are telling on Shuga Naija, and that is what they are about. Locate these people, find out what is happening in their lives so that we know that these stories we tell on MTV Shuga Naija are not just fiction.”

By infusing music and entertainment into its plot, the ‘Shuga’ series, for a decade, has delivered on its vision of sociocultural messaging to impact the age demography between 14 and 25-year olds.