By Kalungi Kabuye
This year’s Big Brother Africa ended last weekend with Dellish announced the winner on Sunday and walk away with US$300,000 (sh780m). That should be big news, right? Not in Uganda, no sir, and probably not in the other African countries that do not have representatives left in the game.
A few years ago this was unthinkable, people not caring about Big Brother? It used to be the subject of office talk all over town, and friends would regularly get together to watch evictions and nominations at their favourite pub.
There used to be weekly eviction parties, and who attended those parties was the stuff for lifestyle media. Looks like Big Brother died.
So, what happened? Many things happened, but not necessarily at the same time. Talk to Ugandans and one of the major factors they cite is the quality and type of Ugandan housemates.
The majority of TV viewers have never really identified with the Ugandans who have been in the show, and blame Multichoice for always choosing the ‘wrong’ housemates. And they especially hate it when the housemates have ‘accents’.
Gaetano was lucky that he was the first, so he did not have any expectations. He also did pretty well in the show, too, although he only managed fifth place. But Ugandans loved him all the same.
The ones that followed him would not be that lucky. Maureen Namatovu was next, and although at first she got a lot of love, soon Ugandans disowned her. They didn’t like that she used the phrase ‘blah blah blah’ much too often, and didn’t like her relationship with the Malawi guy.
Morris Mugisha was next, and his pompous way of talking, combined with poor English, soon put off Ugandans. They didn’t really care what happened to him afterwards. Filbert Okure and Hannington Kavuma were next, but they left the house so quickly we never really got to know them.
Hannington would return in season 5, and subsequently became the first housemate ever to be disqualified after a confrontation with South Africa’s Lerato. We sympathised with him, but again, nah, he was not one of us, and we hated his accent.
Sharon O was next, and Uganda considered her largely a blonde, although Africa seemed to like her, and she stayed till the final day. Another Ugandan, Ernest Wasake, was also in the house.
Ugandans were glad he at least didn’t have an accent, and he managed to bed the voluptuous Tanzanian housemate Bhoke before they were both evicted on the same day.
Janette and Kyle, who were next, did not make much of an impression, although they lasted till far into the game. Nobody has seen Janette since she was evicted, and went back into the oblivion she came out of.
This year’s housemates, Denzel and LK4 were evicted in short order, and although the female housemates seemed to like LK4, again that accent happened. It also didn’t help that Denzel liked getting around half-naked, not a very Ugandan thing.
Another factor in the death of Big Brother is the show itself. At the height of its popularity it had things like ‘shower hour’, and the Uncut version which run late at night.
For still unexplained reasons, but probably on the insistence of different governments (the show was once banned in Malawi) those were scrapped. Now to watch anything like the Uncut version, you have to pay extra.
But the most contributing factor to the demise of Big Brother is the voting system. Reality shows are supposed to be entertainment, that is why people watch them. But Africans like watching their fellow countrymen and women in the house, and that is how they vote. They vote in regional blocks, so to say.
A Malawian up for eviction will most likely get the votes from neighbours like Zambia and Zimbabwe, and probably the whole Southern Africa block. While Nigerians and Ghanaians will most certainly get the Western Africa vote.
It should be the same with the East African block, right? Not always, it turns out. For the last few years Tanzania has never voted for a Ugandan housemate. It is not clear why, but some people think it might have to something do with the Wasake-Bhoke affair.
Bhoke was a very popular TV presenter, and the Tanzanians did not like it that Wasake used his Gisu magic on her and she succumbed, head over heels
Africans are very protective of their women, and any female that gets ‘used’ in the house is very quickly shown the door. Look at what happened to Gaetano’s Aby. While they like watching any ‘action’ that might happen in the house, they would rather it was not one of theirs, another reason why Ugandans still don’t like Maureen.
But Ugandans are nice people, and this year kept the Kenyan Annabelle and Tanzania’s Feza in the game, till it required more than 3 country votes to be safe.
So with the present voting system, it is not the interesting or entertaining housemates that stay longest, but those that get the regional votes. Until that changes, Big Brother Africa will remain boring us to death.
Catch KK on twitter (@KalungiKabuye)