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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Big Brother is watching...

Convinced that it encouraged immorality former Namibian President Sam Nujoma called for the ban of Big Brother Africa television reality show. But the NBC channel that was airing it resisted the veto orders.

The Malawian parliament went farther and banned it too but the country’s high court later lifted the ban. Elsewhere, a church leader prayed for Ugandan participant Gaetano Kagwa to be voted out in a bid to stem the show’s popularity.

He should have spared his breath.

“Gae” never won, but he became Uganda’s top celebrity and a continental icon landing flashy jobs and minting lots of dough in the process. We recently had him here emceeing the Tusker Project Fame 2 music reality show.

The third edition of Big Brother Africa began last Sunday on DStv. Welcome to another round of cheek, chutzpah, lovey-doveys, treachery, debauchery, decadence, fun, fame, infamy…name it. It is time once again for the voyeuristic excitement that only a television reality show starring 12 strangers from different countries holed up together under the constant scrutiny of TV cameras, provides. As you brace yourselves for another three-month slew of screened, snoopy, “sleazertainment”, a word on the babes and dudes gunning for the show’s KSh6.5 million top prize:

SHEILA (Kenya)
“Sheila is cool but has some weird sense of entitlement. She must slow down,” is what one-viewer thinks of sassy Sheila Kwamboka, Kenya’s poster girl in the Big Brother House. Other viewers, according to their two cents worth posted on the show’s website, also think she’s carving out a bad, Tomboy image. Listen to them: “At least Sheila is better than Jeff… but she’s a loud mouth, and should let others shine.” Another goes: “I know it is an adult show, but surely Sheila should cut down on her vulgar language… and please stop smoking, its not good for your health,” goes the advice.

Indeed, the 23-year old extroverted Nairobian’s bad habit is poking fun at others. Thumb through her book shelf and you will find John Grisham’s, The Client and Iyanla Vanzant’s Yesterday I Cried --- the novel on how yesterday’s tears can be today’s hope. As for music, just give the outspoken “people person” a collection from the Material Girl and Scarface. Brian de Palma’s violent, granular classic starring Al Pacino does it in the movies department.

Buying her parents a house and starting a marketing firm would be on the cards if this former television reporter struts away with the Sh6.5 million prize. After all, teachers often told the international relations degree student that she “has potential”. If that happens, Sheila will be the first big Kenyan sister to win Big Brother Africa. Kenya hasn’t provided the luckiest housemates, you know. In the last outing, we were bestowed with a “disaster” answering to the name Jeff Anthony Omondi Kariaga, from Kisum City. He was the second evictee in Big Brother Africa 2 after only 28 colourless days in the house last year. Jeff woke up early to entertain viewers with a suspicious set of press-ups — some cheekily accused him of molesting South African earth. Big Brother Africa 1 in 2003 had Alex Kasembeli Holi of the “I don’t care” fame who rattled others with his bratty attitude that made him the third housemate to be shown the door. As for Sheila. Let’s wait and see.

MORRIS (Uganda)

Big Brother buffs feel Morris Herbert Mugisha is being harassed by Tanzania’s Latoya. “She’s trying too hard,” writes one. Morris is the straightforward hater of racism, war mongering, hypocrisy and failure. The 29-year old from Kampala plans to use Big Brother to “elevate myself more in terms of my profession to tap into the international market.” He is dying to visit Hollywood. “Choose your friends wisely,” was the best advice the sometimes-irritable photographer, model and father of one daughter, ever received. He will need it. Uganda has produced arguably the most visible Big Brother contestant in Gaetano Kaggwa. And they will be looking for another Gae in Morris. Who still remembers the mind-numbing Maureen Namatovu in BBA2 last year?

LATOYA (Tanzania)
Don’t mistake her for La Toya Jackson, the sister to Wacko Jacko who posed nude for Playboy under duress from her hubby, Jack Gordon. Latoya Lyakurwa, a 21-year-old liberal, vivacious secretary from Arusha thinks she has the “right ingredients to spice up the house.” And viewers already think she’s, “gorgeous… really promiscuous... and already seems like a drama queen.” Tanzania has produced two unforgettable housemates: Mwisho Mwampamba, the runner up in Big Brother Africa 1, and amorous Richard Bezuidenhout, the winner of BBA2 last year.

UTI (Nigeria)
One viewer hates the big brother house green themed décor, which reminds him of algae. But most buffs like Uti Nwachukwu, the ‘broda’ from Lagos who has been a good fella, besides being the hunk of the house. “Uti shouldn’t hang out with (Ghanaian) Mimi when (Namibian) Lucille is there,” goes the advice of one who has already chosen him a partner. Nigeria gave us “Bayo” Adetomiwa, the sixth evictee in Big Brother 1. Then Ofunneka Malokwu, the ‘mother’ and the hitherto sinless housemate who eventually became a drinker (famously shagging Richard's leg on that fateful Friday, in the process) and runner up of BBA2.

THAMI (South Africa)
The way Kenyans got tired of Jeff appears to be the same way viewers down south are feeling towards Thamsanqa Prusent, 26, from Jo’burg who aspires to become a millionaire this year. “You have no game. Show these guys what SA can do…” one touts him. The opinionated entrepreneur who is “hardly ever wrong” has special talent too in “pretending to listen.” If Thami wins, he will spend the money globetrotting to Asia, South America and other African destinations. Won’t that surely reduce him to a “thousandnaire”? South Africa has had Abergail Plaatjies (Abby)– the one who got all cheek and jawl with Gaetano in BBA1. Then there was the over-confident Lerato Sengadi, the collector of Converse sneakers in BBA2. Both were fifth evictees.

TAKONDWA (Zambia)
This rapper from Lusaka thinks he’s charismatic, but can be insulting at times. Takondwa Nkonjera loves the colour of money, meaning he abhors brokenness. But viewers think “TK” and Tawana “must watch out....they might be going home very soon.” No reasons are given. Zambia produced the first winner in Big Brother 1 via Cherise "Tumba" Makubale. Call centre operator Maxwell Chongu became the fourth evictee in BBA2.

RICCO (Angola)
Some think Ricco has Kenya’s “Sheila on a golden platter,” whatever that means, while others think he’s “such a baby, like Alex (Holi) of BBA1.” Ricardo David Ferreira Venancio is the mouthful name of this 21-year old self confessed disorganised and lazy dude who has lived in four countries, on two continents. The cute, but retiring Angolan, Bruna Estivão, was the first ejectee out of BBA1. Remember the memorable Tatiana Durão, the siren who pulled a tryst with the married Bezuidenhout in BBA2? Tatiana was the 10th evictee. These Angolans!

TAWANA (Botswana)
By far the most salacious comments have been thrown at Tawana Lebani, a qualified microbiologist and goat farm owner, who at 31, doubles as the grey head of the house. She admits to “speaking before she thinks.” Listen to the “tubed” tantrums: “Tawana should stop smoking if her aim is to win the Sh6.5 million… Tawana rocks God!... she has the best attitude towards life. But her weakest point is not knowing what is not worth yelling for.” Botswana had Warona Setshwaelo, the seventh evictee of the very big chest fame in BBA1. There was also the vertically challenged Justice Motlhabani who was ran out first of BBA2.

MIMI (Ghana)
Another “Jeff”: “Mimi sucks, Ghana brothers deserve more than this… This Mimi girl should not disgrace us… Mimi is too fake and should be herself,” are what some viewers’ think of Wilhelmina Abu-Andani, 27, whose strategy for winning is “being very complicated.” But here is the winner: “Mimi should hook up with Uti since Ghana and Nigeria are like cigarette and lighter….give us more fire!” Sammi Kwame, the musically talented radio presenter was Ghana’s first contestant and the fourth evictee in BBA1. Next came Kwaku Asamoah, the back-stabber who felt he was God’s gift to women. He was the seventh evictee in BBA2.

HAZEL (Malawi)
Hazel Warren, 25, is said to be casting a roving eye at Thami. This lass from Lilongwe runs a bridal-oriented business on the side, but would spend her win on property. Malawi’s Zein Dudha, a marketing manager, was evicted second in BBA1, while Code Sangala, a DJ, Was booted eighth in BBA2.

LUCILLE (Namibia)
“Lucille is cool and hotter than hot… she’s low on airtime that she has resorted to keeping quiet… portable Lucille… goes the views on Lucille Naobes who “embarrasses herself almost daily” and “may do anything to get what is mine.” Stefan Ludik was Namibia’s first contestant and eighth evictee in 2003. Meryl Shikwambane, the girl who couldn’t hold her drink, but had a great pair of tits & ass, was the third housemate shown the door in BBA2.

MUNYA (Zimbabwe)
Voted so far as one of the most intelligent and mysterious housemate. Passionate about acting, film, and television, the ambitious, 22-year-old Munyaradzi Chidzonga from Harare believes he was made a housemate because of his charm, enthusiasm and confidence. Remember the hushed, reserved Zim girl Tapuwa Mhere who finished second runner-up in BBA1? What about pretender Bertha Zakeyo, the treacherous and abrasive hated housemate who was sixth on eviction rota I BBA2?

Big Brother Africa is a three month long television reality show in which a group of strangers live together in the Big Brother House, under the continuous stare of 27 cameras and ‘ear’ of 48 microphones, except when using the toilet. Eligible contestants are normally vocal, fluent in English, fun-loving, creative, original, articulate, and tolerant of views and lifestyles of others. No contact with the outside world is allowed, except access to a psychologist, doctor or dentist. Even attending a funeral of a loved one equals self eviction. The contestants attempt to win a hefty cash prize by avoiding periodic, usually publicly voted, evictions.

The show’s idea began in 1997, and the first Big Brother show eventually aired on the Veronica TV channel in Netherlands two years later. The African edition made its debut in 2003, and the franchise has been a crossover success in over 70 different countries. Last years’ BBA2 received over 900,000 text messages, over 14 million page impressions registered on the show’s website and over four million video clips viewed online. Revenues generated via text message votes are split between the producers after offsetting expenses.

The show’s name comes from George Orwell’s 1949 novel, 1984, that features an all seeing, all-controlling, Big Brother.

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