After what was deemed to be a successful two seasons of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s hit TV series Shuga and Shuga: Love Sex Money, there’s a brand new season in the offing, dubbed #ShugaNaija.
Apart from Kenya-based Nigerian actor and musician Ikubese Emmanuel Ifeanyichukwu, aka 9con, who will reprise his role as smooth-talking bad boy Femi from Shuga LSM, alongside one of the series’ most popular characters, actor, singer and radio presenter Nick Mutuma, (who plays Leo), it seems the cast of the brand new season will be totally new to the franchise.
#ShugaNaija will be produced and filmed in Nigeria for the first time ever, using what MTV announced late Tuesday, would be a predominantly Nigerian cast and crew. Celebrated Nigerian film-maker Biyi Bandele, director of the hotly anticipated feature film of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”, will direct what will now be an 8-part season. 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”.
A number of other popular Nigerian musicians are also expected to be involved in cameo and acting roles, following hit turns by artistes 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.
Shuga announced on its website that per-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 is set to 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).
“My hope and vision for Shuga in Nigeria is huge. I think our priority is to strike a chord with our audience in Nigeria and also across Africa as well.” Georgia Arnold, Executive Director of the Staying Alive Foundation and Executive Producer of Shuga said, adding that, ”We need to create something that they not only want to watch but that they identify with and then they take those message on board but they respond to it as well so we’re really looking not to just create something where they intend to change their behavior but they actually act upon it as well.”
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.