Kenya: Bloggers discuss Kenyan explosive drama, Shuga

Staying alive campaign being the world largest youth focused HIV prevention campaign content together with MTV bring an explosive drama for the world AIDS Day Shuga . Shuga slides  away from the  ordinary comfort zone and portrays life of six college students living the life on the first lane: alcohol, sex, love and money and focuses on how the youth put themselves and others at risk of contracting HIV:

Shuga is a hard hitting 3-part drama series that follows the lives and loves of a group of cool young students whose bright lives and fabulous futures are balanced on a knife edge due to their love of risk and danger. It’s a story of love, sex, Friday nights and the indelible marks we leave on one another. Shuga tells the story of Ayira, a modern girl who knows exactly what she wants and what she’ll do to get it; but will her passion for an older man come at the expense of long term soul mate Ty? Running parallel is the Romeo and Juliet style love story of Virginia and Leo – while the two are destined to be together, will they be able to get past the obstacles that stand in their way? Shuga is based in Nairobi, Kenya; in the heart of East Africa.
Shuga explores the issues of sexual relationships among urban youth against a background of continuing HIV/AIDS infections. It examines the ramifications of sexual decisions on the lives of young people and their partners and loved ones. The drama format is a powerful medium to put across important lifestyle messages to educate and engage young people.

Story revolves around Ayira, a hungry ambitious girl who wants everything in life and nearly blows away a durable relationship by sleeping with an older man suspected to be HIV+ for a job. Shuga starts with a class being told to sell themselves  before a panel of judges for a job offer and Ayira offers a sultry innuendo that a judge finds sickening and she exclaims, “But sex sells.” “Sex sells cars, toothpaste…” On Rafiki Kenya blog:

We like Lupita Nyong'o, who plays Ayira, because she is a great main act, has lips to die for, and her sex scenes are oh so hot cool! Ayira is a beautiful, confident and vivacious 22-year-old, grade-A college student. Originally from Langata she now lives in Buru Buru with her mom and little sister. Her father left Ayira's mom for another woman six years ago – an act which deeply affected Ayira. She is now determined to get her mother and sister out of the financial strain her father left them in, and see a return to the comfortable life they once enjoyed. She has a steady, loving boyfriend called Ty, however Ayira is distrustful of men due to her father's behavior. She wants more and she wants it quickly. Her hunger and impatience for life clouds her judgment and sense of values.

Some theme on the movie:

“Hi ni story ya ma boys, in gear five,
Madem wa fly getting down with the music, feeling fly,
Furahi day nights, music vibes, sweat and sex in the air.
This is a story of true love, lust, broken trust,
It is the story of bright lives, entwining and colliding,
Hi ni story ya morning after, mabyebye baadayes,
Madoa sugu zimeachwa
So what do you do when the party catches up with you?
Has the ride been worth it?”

This is a story of boys, in gear five,
hot girls getting down with the music, feeling fly,
Friday day nights, music vibes, sweat and sex in the air.
This is a story of true love, lust, broken trust,
It is the story of bright lives, entwining and colliding,
It is the story of morning afters and sweet departures,
and the stains we leave on each other
So what do you do when the party catches up with you?
Has the ride been worth it?

The youth are watching Shuga and that forces them take time to reflect on their life and where it  is heading to,  where it supposed to be. Shuga bridges the gap between lust and love and it has been said some youth have flocked the free VCT centers around town for HIV testing erected by the government this week. A blogger Lydia Njeri writes:

Shuga is not your everyday Kenyan drama series, it is one that will keep you glued to your screen, keep you entertained while at the same time get you thinking hard of how you’re living your life.

“At first I was just acting out my part, but it reached a point I stopped being Kenneth the actor and become Antony as it got me seriously thinking about my own life” Antony one of the main actors in the drama series commented.

The new drama series promises to keep you fascinated by the Confident, beautiful ladies, who are full of life, dress with a mission and love a life of partying and one night stands.

On the other hand the young energetic men will keep your head spinning with their swagger, flashy cars and the women in their lives.

The drama is filled with Kenyan artistes, singers, actors appealing to 18- 25 demographic that is obsessed with the music culture,  fashion addiction and lots of parting cutting across, while the same time talking about safe sex, abstinence and openness which has not been witnessed before. Shuga uses phrases likeDon't let your erection determine your direction!” , “Are you sleeping with anyone? Then there is no problem“” an excuse not to use a condom, “trying to be one of the boys” and  “you turn out negative then you start dropping your panties again”:

Shuga is generating quite a buzz in Kenya, the series actually seems to be quite appealing to the young urban middle and high classes. Shuga seems to challenge young people and is igniting a movement to change their sexual behaviour. It's educating, it's provocative, it's funny: “Don't let your erection determine your direction!” Kenyan youths are asking each other: “Who are you in Shuga?” It's amazing, young people have even gone for tests after seeing this movie. Others, who are not that interested in the sex aspects, are saying Kenya has actually great potential for a vibrant movie industry.

In the end they reclaim their lives back and take control but not telling the viewer what to do but to reflect first, on her blog Out and About Africa Brandie writes:

Well that curiosity is now being feed by the MTV Staying Alive Ignite three part series called shuga. Based in Nairobi, the show looks at young students in the city and the impact of their decisions. The Staying Alive campaign by MTV focuses on getting youth the information they need to make the right choices to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS (use this as a major hint about the theme of the series). The Kenyan series is one of three releases (the other two set in Trinidad and Tobago and the Ukraine) and I can tell you it was really well done! It totally doesn't feel like those after school specials from back in the day. Instead, MTV has gotten hot young actors and actresses, a good story line and loads of famous Kenyan musicians to cameo making sure that the youth of the nation (at least those with access to TV) will hear the message. Considering that it was the kids of my good friend in Kenya that even informed me about this, I think they are getting their message across.

On The Saturday Post Zambia:

The documentary addresses social and economic factors that contribute to the high HIV prevalence and new infection rates, particularly among young people, in Sub-Saharan Africa and the world.
“The film resonates with young people. The main aim is to increase knowledge and start a debate about HIV among young people so that they don't get infected. It aims to encourage behaviour change to prevent new infections. The secondary phase is to remind people that HIV is not a death sentence. People can live positively with HIV,” said Mary.

She added that Media 365 as campaign managers for Ignite – an MTV campaign that challenges young people to change their sexual behaviour – will embark on road shows as part of its activities.[…]

And Pepe Haze, who stars as Ty, said he believed abstinence till one marries was the only way to avoid HIV infection among youth.

Some comments about the series:

Shuga has changed me in a very huge way. Thanks

cant wait to finish download its seems amaizing….am looking forward to learn more about aids

wow, thats exatly what happens in real life..good stuff!

I loved the production, it really hit home for me as a young Kenyan and it has definitely impacted on how I live my life… I hope you can show it in schools somehow! Great movie! M

what a way to mark the world AIDS day! the point is driven in so loudly and accurately to miss its target. am so challenged by the reality and the impact the shuga series has on me. congrats, keep it going till every youth and old lives responsibly.

Shuga truly rocks its like a mirror shows exactly what happens amongst us youths…i learnt alot though not enough so am waiting for more of it

Lupita + Co. – you are doing Kenyans (esp. youth) proud by this production. It may even save lives! Kudos….


  • The staying alive campaign is a huge success considering the buzz shuga has created.
    Majority of young, hip urbanites have sadly realized the true nature of shared sex partners and the extensive web ring that so considerably increases the chance of getting infected with HIV AIDS.
    MTv should come up with a 12 episode series that that will SINK the message.

  • kyla

    the sjsow is good you should come out with a hole series, please i want to see what would happen next it really good, it send a good message. xxx

  • Turban

    Am Ugandan and this drama has got me going.Never has any thing spoken the language I understand this much.This is exactly what goes on under and a group of young people telling it in the exact way, makes me only thinking of giving credit where its due for the brainchild behind it. It ashame to know that I lived a life that similar until I realised I was almost hitting the dead end.And now I can only think of how to protect myself after testing.

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