From the day contestants on Big Brother Naija were unveiled in an elaborate ceremony which this writer attended in Johannesburg, South Africa; it was clear that this season was going to be everything but lacklustre. As they got introduced on stage, three housemates- Miracle, Tobi and Cee C- caught fan’s eyes and they formed a key reason why the show was such a success.
Themed ‘Double Wahala’, the twenty housemates were paired into groups of twos and several romantic entanglements began. From K Brule and Khloe, Alex and Leo, Miracle and Nina to Tobi and Cee C, these strategic partnerships soon become m0re with not a few of them getting very cozy in the house. The self-described ‘alpha male bad man’ Teddy A and Bam Bam were perhaps the most unabashed couple; they were seen multiple times appearing to have sex. Although Bam Bam on occasion tried to downplay their steamy sessions by saying to the hearing of other housemates that they did not in fact have sex, the continent saw their unforgettable bathroom scene live on TV.
Big Brother Naija Double Wahala housemates seemed unable to do things in small doses- each aspect of their lives was taken to farthest stretch one’s imagination could take. K Brule sprained his ankle in the very first week, jumping off the upstairs luxury suite after consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Bitto’s overzealous attempts to be a ladies man-made fans take a dislike to him. (After his eviction, he declared that his strategy was to be a ‘mad man’). Nina made it very obvious that meeting Miracle was the best thing to happen to her and although she always spoke about the boyfriend she left at home, her romance with Miracle didn’t let up till the final day. Khloe, who was first disqualified for fighting with K Brule, was brought into the house in the ninth week, courtesy of a twist that saw fans vote back in their favourites. However, her second chance didn’t change her much as she resumed her cantankerous self and fought with virtually everybody in the house.
But there was hardly every a love connection that captivated attention and wore people out as the non-relationship/love-hate relationship between Cee C and Tobi. The moment he laid eyes on her at the opening show, he made it his life’s work to have a romantic relationship with her. She rebuffed him on several occasions but never actually wanted him away from her. It became ritual that she’d send Tobi away and as soon as he got comfortable with another lady – mostly Alex at the weekly Saturday party, a fight will break out between them. It was a neverending drama that often bordered on the disturbing.
The true star of the show
For all Cynthia Nwadiora’s propensity to flare up, pick a fight and not back down, it made her a cult-figure among fans. On the one hand, she was loved a lot of viewers and on the other, she was hated by many more. She brooked no nonsense, she wasn’t afraid to shout anybody down and her trademark ‘like yo!’ became pop-culture slang.
Each time she was nominated, she was saved again and again by her teeming fans to the consternation of the other side. Several people described her antics as a mental case, especially as she was seemingly incapable of owning up to her own shortcomings. ‘Who is this Ceec? Why is she so troublesome? She needs to see a shrink, she needs help. It must because she lost her mother at a young age.’ These were the popular refrains among viewers.
Although she did not win, there is no doubt that her constant controversy added to the intrigue of the show. Many pundits opined that the highest ratings the show had this season was directly a result of Cee C’s participation. Predecessor Tboss and Uti never came close to delivering so much drama. She, perhaps, is the most popular housemate in the history of African Big Brother franchise.
The weekly enthusiasm
Week by week, Nigerians got glued to their screens- The reality show became a reality in our lives. For me, Big Brother became an addiction( It was my job to report it) and an escape from daily pressures as I enjoyed the many twists and turns.
The Saturday night parties were eagerly looked forward to for two reasons: a mystery DJ was always in attendance to deliver the music. Several top Nigerian DJ’s made the roll call: DJ Neptune, DJ Spinall, DJ Sose and DJ Jimmy Jatt were some of the turntablists that were on the show. The second reason was none other than Alex. The six foot tall 23-year-old was a dancer extraordinaire. Every week, she turned up like nothing else mattered. Until the very last day, Alex was a bubbly character and although some fans found her cunning; she was one of the most enjoyable housemates on the show.
The social media angle
Almost on an hourly basis, Big Brother Naija took over the entire social media space. Twitter and Instagram users provided real-time commentary on the goings-on in the house and their reactions also added to the content of the show. Fans divided themselves into teams and continuously canvassed for votes. Team Cee C, Team Miracle and Team Tobi were about the most vocal; not one day passed without appeals and conspiracy theories about the other side.
Shows were created from BBNaija; media organizations dedicated time slots to reviews and analysis. A widely popular show is NET TV’s Turn Up Or Turn Down with Deji Mercury. His ‘Yoruba Demon’ character was an instant success and he provided regular commentary on issues going on in the house.
As the show aired on a 24-hour loop, solidarity messages scrolled on continuous on screen and at the end of the show, it was announced that an incredible 170 million votes were cast by BBNaija fans.
Miracle’s win was not a miracle; it was expected
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On first sight, Miracle was instantly liked by viewers. Was it his cute pilot’s outfit or his easy mien? He had that je ne sais quoi that one liked but didn’t necessarily understand. He, along with Tobi, was predicted to win in the early stages of the show. Unlike Tobi however, he steered clear of the drama that lost Tobi a lot of fans. While he wasn’t a typical grass-to-grace story like last year’s winner Efe, he never tired of explaining his need for funds to complete his aviation training. And who doesn’t like a cute man in uniform?
CeeC did more of village square fights with almost every housemate in the house, she claimed her strategy was being herself and did not hold anything back in showing it. Alex held down the dance floor but gradually became a nuisance with her constant tears and gossip sessions with BigBrother. None of the housemates came close to Tobi in his succinct delivery of drama, dance, photography and entertainment in the house.
Teddy A nearly registered his presence with beautiful stories of him knowing all the popular musicians in the world but his Alpha male status could not save him from eviction. Khloe and Anto’s stories were the most laughable, both got a second chance to be voted back into the house- they were eventually sent packing house a week after they were voted back in.
Miracle’s win was undebated and he was celebrated as the worthy winner.
How Nigerians united because of Big Brother Naija
The three-month duration of the big brother show surpassed the expectations of both its viewers and the organisers politicians, record label bosses such as E-money, Celebrities such as Juliet Ibrahim, openly canvassed for votes for their favourites and also dropped huge sums of money to enable, but shared recharge cards to their communities to enable them vote for sons/daughters of the soil.
If the reason the organizers created a Nigerian version of the show was because we tend to outshine everybody else on the continent, they made the right decision because at the grand finale South Africans were made redundant as Nigerians completely took over the show! The Red Pepper Studios where the show was held was overrun by overexcited Nigerians who had come out en masse.
It was the same thing when the South African Airways Boeing 767 touched down in Lagos. There were at least ten thousand people who came to welcome the newly made stars.
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Fans struggled and trampled on one other just to get a glimpse of the’ last five’. Nigerians danced and celebrated as though there were no more problems in the world. More bewildering was the fact that some fans decided to donate N1Million naira per state for their favourite housemate.
I shook my head in disbelief knowing that this is one reason the government will not take youths serious anytime soon. I had never seen something of that sort in my life before. I thought if only we all could leave the E-War we fight behind our Twitter and Instagram handles and mobilise to vote out bad leaders or even fight for our rights as we fight to catch a glimpse of Miracle, Nina, Ceec, Tobi and Alex. But would you blame them? Big Brother had brought the much-needed drama albeit there were emotions and words traded, there was always something to laugh, cry and enagage versus what is believed that the current government has brought us, sorrow, tears and blood (in the words of the late great Fela).
In the end, all the housemates should experience a change in their lives. From total obscurity, they became overnight celebrities. They are now visible brand targets and it is expected that they will take advantage of the opportunites the show has offered them.
Multichoice Nigeria delivered a gripping season of BBNaija but the biggest winners are fans who had ninety straight days of escape from everyday struggles and pressures. They cannot wait for the next edition.
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