By Elizabeth D.T. Taderera
“Studio 263” was a soap opera that had everyone glued to their TV screens from 2002 to 2007. If I mention the character Detective Davis or Vimbai Huni, most Zimbabweans would know which show I am talking about. The soap was written by Aaron Chiundura Moyo who depicted life in the Zimbabwean capital city, Harare. The series featured on international television channels such as M-net, making history as one of the few locally produced series to be aired internationally. The soap was sponsored by Population Services International Zimbabwe, with funding from USAID, as its storyline was aimed at raising awareness about HIV. Studio 263 aired five times a week starting September 2002. Although I was young when it first aired, I remember singing the theme song at school during our break time which shows how popular the show was.
It was based on real-life stories faced by young Zimbabweans on a daily basis. It focused on HIV, abstaining from sex and the importance of disclosing one’s status as a way of fighting stigma. It showed how people could live life positively even with HIV. This important message was best expressed by the character Tendayi played by Tatenda Mavetera. The character seeks support from her family and friends as she wants to tell people her status and support other people who were HIV positive.
In 2004 the cast and crew of “Studio 263” took part in a month of outreach that included orphanage, hospital, and hospice visits. The target audience was the youth with the view to reduce HIV and AIDS-related sickness.
The series was pulled off the air by the ZBC due to contractual disputes. The production had to be stopped due to this and some of the actors moved to other countries to seek greener pastures.