Shuga is an MTV-produced 3-part minidrama spitting what I like to call a Global Health meets Media cautionary tale about HIV/AIDS. The message is critically important for 21st generation youth all over the world, not just in the African context it presents. A classmate whose done work in Kibera slum in Nairobi put me on to it, super excited & urging me to take a look. When I finally did, I was immediately hooked and found myself wishing it was a regular series! This group of Nairobi youth rock multiple identities: student/DJ/aspiring professional/hustler/Swah-English speakers (did I mention I create new words at my every whim?) speakers/lovers/daughters & sons/friends…they are relatable, multi-faceted & likable characters that draw you right into their journeys, despite the show’s brevity.
Besides the excellently conveyed moral, true to life story, great imagery, fashion and film composition, what touched me most about Shuga was the representation of African youth. I think the key moment for me was realizing that I was watching something mastered to give a public health message (of course amongst others important messages) about HIV/AIDS in Africa and I could see something of myself in the characters. Of course, I can see something in myself in the more commonplace images of orphaned children whose parents have been stolen by this virus or the skeletal young woman in an under-served hospital but this seemed more fair… a reminder that– hey, some Africans afflicted with this virus are educated, are optimistic, are movers & shakers. Yes, they need help and health education but we must see the true demographic make-up of the infected. I loved that Shuga showed the juxtapositions and paradoxes that are part & parcel of living middle-class in Africa– both the gritty urban reality and the fabulously wealthy, those trying their hardest to make a living and those they work for…This feels more like the Africa I’ve seen.
I will always hold my tongue rather than giving anything a 100% rating but I will conclude by saying I found this series impressive and refreshing…if you haven’t figured that out yet 🙂 I’ve heard this same MTV initiative has created similar situation-dramas in other country contexts– gotta go check those out!
I don’t want to give away any more for those that I haven’t seen it so please— click on that link without any further ado and share your thoughts!
And because this blog is about sharing the lovely gems we come across and can’t wait to share:
Had this on repeat while writing this and I felt compelled to share 🙂