Produced by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication, the twelfth series of the edutainment drama series "Soul City" premiered in July 2014. Comprising 26 half-hour episodes, the series is based around a community clinic in a fictional township in South Africa and deals with the challenges and triumphs of the clinic health workers and the people living around the clinic. This new series deals with issues related to the re-engineering of primary health care in South Africa, maternal and infant care, contraception, surviving sexual assault, and financial literacy focusing on short-term insurance.

Communication Strategies: 

Using an edutainment strategy, the Soul City series weaves health and social issues into real-life stories, which are designed to be authentic and real to its viewers. By offering information, creating awareness, and stimulating discussion around social issues in this way, the series seeks to change social norms, increase knowledge, and change practices in order to improve individual and community health.

The topics addressed in each series undergo broad formative research and review by health and communication professionals, producers, and writers to ensure that the information is accurate and scientific. The audience is also engaged in the development process in order to ensure that the story remains real and does not give any unintended messages.

In this series, the storylines are based around the daily experiences and challenges of a team of community health workers at the newly opened Soul City clinic (in the last season, the clinic had burned down). The series provides a youthful component by introducing a group of young people who are re-inventing a safe and creative space for themselves by cleaning up and taking over a rundown old gym. In this space, the young people discover community, democracy, and creative responses to challenges young people in economically poor communities face.

The series interweaves the following issues into the storylines:

  • Re-engineering primary health care - The series shows the sometimes harrowing and tragic situations that 6 community health workers must deal with, while exploring the personal dynamics that evolve within the team as they learn to work together for the health of their whole community.
  • Maternal and infant care - With the inclusion of a 24-hour maternity section in the newly opened Soul City clinic, the series seeks to cover issues related to pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care. The head of the maternity wing must deal with high-risk mothers and other birth emergencies that might come her way. She also engages with new mothers on breastfeeding and regular vaccinations. In addition, the series showcases an inexpensive text-messaging service being made available to new mothers through the MomConnect programme – an initiative of the South African Department of Health.
  • Contraception - A teenage pregnancy depicts the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy both on the young girl and her extended family. The series also confronts termination of pregnancy when a middle-aged woman married to an emotionally abusive husband falls pregnant unexpectedly, and she does not want to bring another child into the family.
  • Rape and surviving sexual assault - The series aims to show the different levels of trauma and stigma that rape survivors experience. The aim is to also depict the different types of support that can be extended to a rape survivor, as well as the full complement of services that can be accessed at the nationwide Thuthuzela Care Centres - which are one-stop facilities that have been introduced as a critical part of South Africa's anti-rape strategy, aiming to reduce secondary trauma for the victim, improve conviction rates, and reduce the cycle time for finalising cases.
  • Financial Literacy - The series focus here is on short-term insurance and aims to dispel myths around the need for and importance of insurance. The stories involve a car accident and the need for third-party insurance, homeowners' insurance, and household contents insurance.

The topics dealt with in the series are further supported through other media such as: radio, where topics are debated in-depth on community and commercial radio stations; printed booklets; and social mobilisation, where Soul City works with partners at local and national levels to raise awareness and shift social norms within communities.

Click here to view the Soul City 12 episodes online.

Development Issues: 

HIV, Maternal Health, Gender-based Violence, Reproductive Health, Financial Literacy

Key Points: 

The "Soul City" series is the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication's (SCI) flagship television series, which was first launched in 1994. Soul City estimates that the television series reaches more than 16 million South Africans.

See video

Emails from Raashied Galant to Soul City on July 23 2014 and from Sue Goldstein to The Communication Initiative on October 8 2014.