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Shuga is a TV series that was first aired in November 2009 on MTV Base as part of an initiative dubbed MTV Staying Alive Ignite! It was commissioned by MTV Networks Africa in association with The MTV Staying Alive Foundation, PEPFAR (The US President's Emergency Fund for Aids Relief), the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation (HFG) and the Government of Kenya, as part of a ground-breaking multimedia campaign to spread the message about responsible sexual behaviour and tolerance. It later became a hit and was aired in 40 different African countries before it was aired internationally in over 70 television stations. It was thought to be a very controversial series by the senior generation of Kenyans because it contained some scenes that contained sexually explicit content. It bagged a Gold award in May 2010 at the World Media Festival in Hamburg, Germany in the Public Relations Health category for its vivid and uncompromising focus on love, emotions and sexual behavior amongst the Kenyan youth.
Season one comprised three episodes that followed the lives and love of a group of young students whose bright lives and fabulous future were balanced on a knife edge due to their love of risk and danger. This season told the story of a modern girl Ayira, played by Lupita Nyong’o who knew what she wanted and how to get it. She developed passion with an older man at the expense of a longtime lover Ty. This season also highlighted the life of other two lovers Virginia and Leo who had various obstacles in their relationships but they were determined to make it work. This season also featured cameo appearances of Madtraxx, P-Unit, Nonini, Nameless, Juliani, Jimmy Gait and Dj Adrian.
Principal photography for the series took place in Nairobi and Malindi, Kenya in August – September 2011. The title song for “Shuga: Love, Sex, Money” debuted on MTV Base on Tuesday 14 February 2012. Other artists that featured in the atmospheric soundtrack to Shuga: Love, Sex, Money included Camp Mulla, Flavour, P-Square, Wyre, STL, Madtraxx, J Martins, Sasha, Stella Mwangi and many others. Season two premiered on 10 February 2012 and it was an invite only affair at the Kenya National Museums which was attended by the Shuga Cast, MTV Executives, Kenya Government officials, MTV VJ Kule Ekirapa, MTV Rising Stars as well as a host of local and international media and music personalities. This season comprises six episodes which were followed by a one-hour synopsis episode. The storylines in this season are rape, transactional sex and homosexuality plus a bunch of other issues to be explored included HIV testing, stigma, condom use, gender inequity and the role of multiple concurrent partnerships in driving the HIV epidemic. This season also aired some gay scenes that were meant to tackle the HIV/AIDs spread among the gay people. According to Georgia Arnold the executive producer of the drama series, the actual plan had to be pulled back to avoid controversy since it was a delicate matter in Kenya.
Season three is currently showing and after being hotly anticipated for more than one year. It has more sex, more drama, and more choices to be made all set in Nigeria. The hard-hitting drama follows the lives, loves and ambitions of a group of young people whose bright lives and fabulous futures are balanced on a knife edge due to their love of living dangerously. It has some exciting changes, with the introduction of new characters, old faces and increasingly addictive story-lines. Some of the featuring crew are Ice Prince, Iyanya, Maria Okanrende, Tiwa Savage, Chris Attoh, Nick Mutuma, and Sharon Chisom Ezeamaka.
Visit www.shuga.tv for more details and updates.