Shuga Naija's preachy plot lines

Show: Shuga Naija

Channel: MTVBase (DStv 322)

When: Wednesdays, 21:30

#Trending was invited to a screening of the latest season of Shuga, MTV’s popular educational youth drama that aims to talk about sex and tackle the continent’s HIV situation. Season six shifts to Nigeria, specifically Lagos. Creatively the city is compellingly captured with a nod to Nollywood. But if you’re looking for Shuga’s usual refined cinematography, rather go for a repeat of an earlier season.

The content is more of the same, though. The season explores social issues like trust in relationships, especially through the character of Leila, played by the captivating Jemima Osunde. From Shuga’s creators you get the sense they see Osunde as the next on deck to represent the continent in a similar fashion to Lupita Nyong’o, who got her start on Shuga season one. It could very well happen.

The overworked script is saved by one thing: The iconic way that our Nigerian sisters and brothers speak. That accent and the pidgin lingo is thrilling. I really think we should adopt more of that dialect here in SA. The way they refer to things, for instance “gisting about”. The subject or topic of discussion is the gist and you’re just out there gisting about (talking). In one scene, Leila has to overcome the embarrassment of purchasing condoms and her lover says something about her liver being weak and thus cutting off her supply of courage. Dear reader, I laughed.

Another rising star to look out for is Tomiwa Tegbe who plays Wasiu, a schoolboy who has always got something funny to say and carries himself with a certain swagger. The scenes with him and his crew are very strong, in fact the whole schoolyard setting and the interactions between the teens tugs at one’s heart strings. And look out for the excellent clique of schoolgirls.

This show is about educating and we’re all aware that the situation on our continent is dire. But it’s all maybe a bit on-the-nose for me. One scene shows a hospital matron of sorts, shouting at a young girl for asking her for contraceptives. The matron then gets lambasted for her ignorance and insensitivity. Uh. We get it already.

I’m not sure about Shuga’s use of bumpers with multiple-choice questions pertaining to the educational focus of certain scenes. For instance, “Should sex education, not only abstinence, be discussed in school?” You can then visit Shuga’s website to respond. It’s a good way to get people to interact but it breaks the flow. Watch it and tell your kids to as well. You will catch a few laughs and learn about Nigeria while taking in issues we need to be talking about.