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New MTV Shuga series digs deeper into unforseen real life effects of COVID-19

From the heightened risk of domestic violence to the outbreak of fake news, and the silent mental health crisis amid the ongoing national lockdowns, MTV International has announced a brand new, pan-African digital mini-series unpacking unforseen real life effects of COVID-19.

Called ‘MTV Shuga Alone Together‘, the 60-part mini series is the brainchild of MTV Staying Alive Foundation, and is presented in partnership with the United Nations’ Every Woman Every Child Partnership and Unitaid: supporting innovation in global health and Viacom CBSAfrica.

Focused on raising awareness around the global fight to flatten the COVID-19 curve, it is written and directed by acclaimed writer, Tunde Aladese, and will be available for streaming and sharing across online platforms from Monday, April 20. 

Set in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Cote D’Ivoire, and produced remotely during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, MTV Shuga Alone Together will depict every aspect of life during the pandemic over the next three months.

The stories will be told through video calls between MTV Shuga characters, reflecting how social media has become the new form of socialising during this critical era of lockdown, as it reflects the changes that comes with it. 

Most importantly the series will educate viewers about how practicing hygienic habits, social distancing and self-isolation is critical to fighting the devastating spread of coronavirus.

Nigerian actor Tomiwa Tegbe stars in the series alongside Timini Egbuson, Nick Mutuma, and Jemima Osunde

MTV Shuga continues its long history of educating audiences 

MTV Shuga has always believed in educating and engaging young audiences on real issues –  
MTV Staying Alive Foundation’s Georgia Arnold.

No stranger (from its start in Kenya in 2009) to seamlessly interweaving into different storylines vital messages related to HIV and other wide-ranging public health messages, MTV Shuga hasn’t only greatly influenced attitudes to safe behaviours and choices among millions of young people in Africa.

It has equally demonstrated the place and power of edutainment television in creating awareness around some of the world’s most pressing issues, and how we can be part of the solution. 

Watch: ‘MTV Shuga: Down South’ fusing sexual and other public health messaging with world-class storytelling

As Georgia Arnold, who also serves as the senior vice president of social responsibility at ViacomCBS Networks International further explains, “MTV Shuga Alone Together comes at the right time when education and information in stopping the spread of COVID-19 are needed the most.”

Likewise, the new series will also examine the increased risks faced by people who may be HIV+ and not managing their viral load, and/or those who have TB. 

“By using popular culture, relatable storylines and the talents of some of Africa’s strongest actors, we are determined to reinforce the crucial messages which will contain the outbreak.”

Vivian Lopez, executive coordinator at the Every Woman Every Child echoed the same sentiments, saying: “These are stressful times for everyone, but with the mandated physical distancing and the feelings of uncertainty around school and work closures, this is an especially tough time to be a teenager.”

Touching on the importance of this partnership in ensuring that young people have the information they need to both navigate COVID-19, and protect themselves and their loved ones, she added: “We not only want to stop the spread of COVID-19, but we want to offer young people a way to process what is happening in their lives and around the world. Information is the tool that can bridge the gap from uncertainty to understanding.”

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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