AFRICAâ€™S premier reality show, Mnetâ€™s Big Brother Africa (BBA), in its fourth season running and titled â€œBig Brother Revolutionâ€ roared into life last Sunday evening.
Set in the hulking metropolis of Johannesburg, South Africa, Big Brother is a show where people live together, isolated from the outside world in a â€œfish bowlâ€ â€” the Big Brother house â€” where their activities, comings and goings are under surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The search for housemates was expanded from last yearâ€™s 12 countries to now include 14 countries. TheÂ participating countries are: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Journalists from the respective housematesâ€™ countries including Zimbabwe got acquainted with the newly built house and with the sensation of having oneâ€™s every move firmly under the glare of Big Brother.
The journalists â€” or media mates as Big Brother called us â€”were subjected to the tasks and activities that the housemates would be givenÂ in a typical day.
At the end of the 24 hours (which to me seemed more like 72 hours), there was a shared respect and appreciation by the journalists for the psychological stamina and mettle of housemates who resolve to stay in the house for 91 days. Â
DStv Africa Communications manager Sandhya Singh also brought to the attention of journalists the fact that the housemates have to instantaneously form alliances with people they did not know previously in order to survive in the house, which requires great interpersonal skills to pull off.
Whilst it had become apparent to BBA fans that this yearâ€™s edition was the biggest as yet â€” with a cash prize of US$200 000 on offer â€” they could not have anticipated the sweeping changes in store such as the anything-goes policy which gives the housemates room to conspire as much as they like, and the fact that viewers will vote to keep their favourite housemate in the game, whereas they previously voted for the contestant they wanted evicted.
Apart from the introduction of a new presenter, Nigerian Studio 53 host IK Osakioduwa, and a pair of identical twins â€” Namibians Edward and Erastus who unbeknown to the rest of the housemates, will swap places in the house â€” viewers also have to grapple with the fact that the current housemates are all male, although female housemates will enter the house next week.
Zimbabweâ€™s representative, 31-year-old Itai Makumbe â€” the first housemate to enter the house â€” cut an uneasy and unassuming figure at the launch, which worried many Zimbabwean BBA â€œcommentatorsâ€. Many however many anticipate that he would rise to the challenge and prove his critics wrong.Â Â
Describing himself as â€œfriendly, funny, calm, sensitive and sometimes moodyâ€, he has been criticised for being too laid back to have what it takes to bring the prize home.
Commenting on the demeanor of the Masterâ€™s Degree student in Peace and Governance Wilfred Masunda, an avid BBA viewer noted that Itai has to stand out in a house full of hunks and attention seekers.
â€œHe cannot afford to be complacent because Zimbabwe is yet to win anything at BBA. We want him to come out of his shell and prove his worth.â€
Opinionated, assertive and forceful, most of the housemates have made their views known that they would stop at nothing to get the prize. South Africaâ€™s Quinn â€“â€“ the first Caucasian in the BBA â€“â€“ who has charmed audiences with his charisma and proficiency in the Zulu language along with Kenyaâ€™s Jeremy who had the ladies screaming after giving viewers a sneak peak of his six-pack are sure to give Itai a run for his money.
Â Whilst no one can predict what Big Brother has in store for the housemates, one thing is for certain: the arrival of the ladies will spice things up!
Big Brother Revolution will be broadcast live on DStv Channel 198 or 199 for 91 days. The daily show, live nominations and eviction shows will be broadcast on Mnet (DStv channel 101/102) while Africa Magic (DStv channel 107) will re-screen these shows.Â Viewers can also stay up-to-date with the latest news and intrigue from Africaâ€™s hottest reality show by logging on to www.mnetafrica.com/bigbrother.
Meanwhile auditions for the Mnet Face of Africa will also be held tomorrow at the MultiChoice offices at Pasangano Building, 20 King George Road, Harare from 9am to 4pm.
â€œZimbabwean audiences love the Face of Africa story,â€ MultiChoice PR and publicity manager Liz Dziva said.
They want to see it all, the continental search, the transformations, the successes, the ultimate triumph. So Mnet has invested in a longer series, to let the Face of Africa story be told in its entirety, to let our audiences join the search and live the processâ€.
Entry is open to any woman, who is a citizen of a sub-Saharan country and is between the ages of 17 and 24. The minimum height requirement is 1,72m, the maximum hip measurement is 96cm and entrants should not have an existing modeling contract.