About Tsha Tsha

Tsha Tsha is a multi-part entertainment education
television drama series commissioned by the South
African Broadcasting Corporation's Education division and produced by CADRE and Curious Pictures. Additional support is provided by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA) and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg, School of Public Health, Centre for Communications Programs. Tsha Tsha focuses on young people living in a world affected by HIV/AIDS and other social problems.

The series, comprising a total of 78 half-hour episodes, was broadcast between 2003 and 2006 during prime-time on SABC1. Support to various phases of the series has been provided by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Although produced for a youth target audience, the series drew viewers across age and language groups, and achieved an audience share of around 50% for the broadcast timeslot.

Tsha Tsha explores the lives of a group of young people living in a small fictional rural town called Lubusi. The rural context was chosen as it allowed for the exploration of issues relating to community life including the marginalization of youth, and this created an appropriate setting for a character-based drama dealing with personal and social transformation. The setting is also uniquely different from the predominantly urban orientation of most South African television youth drama.


The interplay between the opportunities and limitations of rural settings provides a useful context for highlighting the relationships between personal self-efficacy and environmental resources as factors in personal development. Themes addressed include: addressing HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment, support and rights; relationships and sexuality; life skills and problem-solving including gender relations, parent-child relationships; addressing addictions such as alcoholism and gambling; addressing violence, legal issues, entrepreneurship and community mobilisation.

Ballroom dancing is used as an organising concept in the drama and a ballroom dance club provides a metaphoric background for exploring relationships, mutual respect and intimacy.

Tsha Tsha’s approach to entertainment education works from key principles including:

  • Identification: Emphasis is placed on the psychological depth of characters with a view to allowing audience members to relate to personality traits, circumstances and challenges on both emotional and intellectual levels.
  • Problem-solving: Established ways of thinking about problems are critically examined, and multiple paths to solutions are explored. It is recognised that problems do not always have simple solutions.
  • Self-efficacy: This includes exploring strategies for coping with challenges, developing self-esteem and confidence in the ability to exercise control over one`s life.
  • Living humanely: This involves recognising the value of empathy, co-operation and collaboration with others, and is promoted in contrast to individualism.
  • Lessons rather than messages: Tsha Tsha avoids promoting simplified solutions to problems, including avoiding closed-ended didactic messaging. Instead, the focus is on lessons that are seen as a process including reflections on choices, consequences and multiple pathways of action occurring over extended periods of time.
  • Limit situations: Problems are complex, and solutions are often not simple because contexts may limit the choices that can be made. Creativity is often required for effective solutions, and problems may need to be approached from many different perspectives.
  • Challenging norms, conventions and stereotypes : The world is framed by codes and norms that sometimes have to be challenged, before problems can be effectively addressed.
  • Understanding change: Change is seen as a process that is dependent on experiences, relationships, and frames of reference. Sustainable changes are generally made up of small step-wise changes.
  • Naming/showing things: Ideas, practices and social activities are brought into being by naming, and this allows the audience to identify and address problems. For example, in series one the red ribbon symbol was used to acknowledge Andile’s mother’s death from AIDS.

Beyond Broadcast - freely available educational resources
Video and DVD copies of Tsha Tsha series one, two and three, and a 20-minute promo tape - are available to organisations involved in HIV/AIDS training and education. A Facilitator's Guide has been developed to encourage reflection, debate and discussion of HIV/AIDS and related issues after watching clips or episodes of Tsha Tsha.

The series has been distributed to 40 Higher Education Institutions through CADRE's partner organisation, DramAidE. On some of these campuses Big Screen viewings are held and are supplemented by facilitated discussions, where themes, students' opinions, experiences and feelings are shared.


Tsha Tsha has also been piloted in correctional facilities as an HIV/AIDS educational resource. The incorporation of Tsha Tsha into the HIV/AIDS Programme in over 200 correctional services facilities across South Africa is currently underway.
The videos and guide are aimed at non-governmental and community based organisations, institutions, government departments and groups that support HIV/AIDS education and training. For more information on using Tsha Tsha as an educational resource contact Helen at (011) 339-2611 or via e-mail at helen@cadre.org.za