Addressing contemporary social issues on Soul City

Soul City 11 weaves contemporary social issues, such as medical male circumcision, prevention of mother to child transmission and the problems of service delivery, into a compelling new drama series, which airs from Tuesday, 18 October at 20:30 on SABC1.

Soul City series 11 welcomes back favourite Soul City personalities including Fana Mokoena (Philani) and introduces a stunning new line up of celebrity cast including: Leleti Khumalo, Harriet Manamela, Dumisani Mbebe, Florence Masebe, Samukelo Ndlovu, Robert Mpisi and Siyanda Sesimani.

Soul City Institute receives financial support from BP Southern Africa, MTN SA Foundation, Old Mutual, the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and the National Debt Mediation Association (NDMA). Government sponsors include the Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Other donors are the Department for International Development (DFID) and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) / Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The series forms a central part of Soul City’s ongoing OneLove Campaign, a social change campaign that focuses on preventing HIV.

Soul City 11 is set in an underdeveloped community where services are poor. Sis Noni (Florence Masebe), a community stalwart health campaigner is the thorn in the side of local councillor Philani (Fana Mokoena), always demanding improvements. When Sis Noni’s dilapidated clinic burns down tensions rise.

Smokin Joe’s, the local boxing gym owned by Sis Noni’s husband, Malusi (Dumisani Mbebe), becomes the venue for a temporary clinic. Here Sis Noni can continue with the important work of Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT). Her parent support group will introduce viewers to parents who are fighting the gallant battle against stigma and ignorance. The PMTCT theme portrays the complexities of HIV and AIDS and the questions of stigma and silence that are often underlying. Prevention of new HIV infections remains a major public health challenge for South Africa, and Soul City advocates that no child should be born HIV positive when there is a clear and available programme to ensure this.

Sis Noni’s other passion is encouraging young men to undergo Male Medical Circumcision (MMC) to protect them from getting HIV. Here she runs into a wall as her husband insists their two sons, Mandla (Siyanda Sesimani) and Sam (Robert Mpisi) undergo traditional circumcision instead. The drama unfolds as it captures the debate about Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) versus traditional circumcision as an HIV preventative measure. Responding to the position of the Soul City Institute on this debate, Bongani Mdluli, the Series Manager says ”The Soul City Institute encourages Medical Male Circumcision in order to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Soul City would like to see a coming together of the rites of passage of the traditional male circumcision and the full medical male circumcision. This discussion with traditional leaders and the traditional sector is ongoing."

The third theme of the series is ‘understanding and managing’ one's personal finance, imparting important knowledge on how South Africans can provide for their future and take responsibility for their finance. This theme is carried by Grace (Leleti Khumalo) and her daughter Nkosazana (Samukelo Ndlovu) who have fled from their home to escape debt collectors. Soul City together with Old Mutual, NCR and NDMA provide South Africans with relevant and accessible financial education.

Joy Khaole, Old Mutual head of sponsorships says, “A partnership with a successful edutainment series such as Soul City will maximise our efforts of promoting responsible financial management in the communities in which we operate. Increasing the dialogue relating to personal financial wellbeing across all sectors of our society will lead the nation on a path of socio-economic prosperity, an ideal we aspire to as a leading financial services provider.”

Soul City's messaging is carefully intertwined in a drama. By incorporating real-life stories, Soul City is authentic and real to its viewers. The topics addressed undergo broad research and review by health and communication professionals, producers and writers to ensure that the information is accurate and scientific. The audience is engaged in the development process and ensure the story remains real and does not give any unintended messages.

Brent Quinn, head writer comments “Soul City’s extensive research into the real life struggles of ordinary people inspires our storylines. Too many TV dramas invent characters and plots that audiences battle to identify with. Soul City is part of the world where the viewers’ stories are set. We writers just add the dramatic to the authentic."

From http://www.mediaupdate.co.za/?idstory=42092 - 6 October 2011

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