A jumble of ululation and booing! That is what best describes the mood last Sunday evening at Sasani Studios in Johannesburg, South Africa; when Nigeriaâ€™s Karen Igho and Zimbabwe â€™s Wendall Parsons were announced winners of sh520m each â€” the grand prize of this yearâ€™s televised M-NET reality
A jumble of ululation and booing! That is what best describes the mood last Sunday evening at Sasani Studios in Johannesburg, South Africa; when Nigeriaâ€™s Karen Igho and Zimbabwe â€™s Wendall Parsons were announced winners of sh520m each â€” the grand prize of this yearâ€™s televised M-NET reality show, Big Brother Africa Amplified.
The studio was packed to the rafters with Big Brother fans as well as friends and family members of the 26 contestants this year featured (the 19 previous evictees attended).
Immediately Karen and Wendall were announced, shrill ululation and booing tore through the air. Ululation because they celebrated 27-year-old Karen, whom they thought was the worthy winner owing to the fully-fledged entertainment her hyper personality gave Africa.
The booing disregarded Wendallâ€™s win, for he was the most boring of the seven finalists, with nothing worth writing home about. In fact, while still on the show, many regarded Wendall as part of the furniture, never in the least imagining him a likely winner.
The mainly South African crowd did not pretend about its feelings. After chanting â€œno way, no way, no wayâ€ in protest of Wendallâ€™s win, they launched into â€œLuclay, Luclay, Luclayâ€¦â€, suggesting they had their own winner in Luclay, the South African contestant who came third having got two country votes â€” South Africa and Botswana.
Not even the sudden entrance by anti-riot police stopped them from chanting Luclayâ€™s name. It was just as well the situation did not escalate.
But Africa had decided. Karen, who was jobless before Big Brother, had turned millionaire in just three months, with six country votes â€” five from the participant 14 countries, one from the other countries with no representatives on the show. She had Ghana , Angola , Tanzania, Nigeria , Mozambique and the rest of Africa.
The stories of how she and her mother have for years hustled to earn a living will be no more. No wonder her mother, who also attended the finale, was in tears at the life-changing announcement.
At a press conference shortly after the finale, Karen mentioned how she lost her father to HIV/AIDS, and promised to use her prize money to fix the lack that her fatherâ€™s departure left behind.
As for Wendallâ€¦ well, he was already a well-to-do kid before Big Brother, for at 24 years, he is a pilot. In fact, he did not in the least look shocked by the win.
At the press conference, he wore the air of â€˜been there done thatâ€™ â€” not that journalists were really interested in him. Many snubbed him, concentrating on the feisty Karen. During a session to take pictures with the winners, some only took with Karen.
Once in a while, a lone question went to Wendall â€” and it was to ask him how it felt sitting next to a winner with six votes against his paltry four â€” Zimbabwe , Namibia , Kenya and Zambia.
While some contend that the establishment rigged in his favour, general consensus held that it was the power of social networking and massive â€˜deployed votingâ€™ engineered by Wendallâ€™s family back home that drove the numbers for the Zimbabwean.
Our Sharon Salmon Nalukenge, who made fifth, placing one of Ugandaâ€™s best performances in the reality showâ€™s six seasons, got only the Ugandan vote. Kenya and Tanzania, which many thought would vote Sharon due to her East African Community attachment, showed no love
Her father, Joe Salmon, a travel agent and mother, Bank of Ugandaâ€™s Rebecca Sebuyira; were there to console our girl who, by making it to the finale, bagged sh26m, just like all the other six finalists. Malawiâ€™s Lomwe emerged 4th, Ethiopia â€™s Hanni sixth and Nigeria â€™s Vina seventh.
Karenâ€™s win marks the third time the jackpot is going to Nigeria after their Kevin Chuwang won Big Brother Revolution (Season Four) and Uti Nwachukwu won Big Brother All Stars (Season Five). Wendallâ€™s win is the first for Zimbabwe.
At the after party
Away from the winners, the after-party was the other thing to write home about.
Held at The Venue in Johannesburg, it brought together a number of the past contestants who rubbed shoulders with the present, as well as artistes like Fally Ipupa, Mo Cheddah and Wizkid who performed at the party and the finale.
And oh, there are some Big Brother babies on the way. My lense caught a very pregnant Big Brother Revolution couple Queen (South Africa) and Jen (Mozambique). They said they are six months, and that Nigeriaâ€™s Kevin and Elizabeth, who also started their romance from Revolution, are due next month. Remember Mwisho, the Tanzanian who got engaged to Namibiaâ€™s Meryl in Big Brother All Stars? They too are expecting.
Also, after witnessing Luclayâ€™s mum throw a tantrum at a security officer who had denied her access to her son (she smokes as well), I now know better than to complain about Luclayâ€™s erratic behaviour. Interestingly though, his girlfriend is so calm.
Meanwhile, our Ernest Wasake and Tanzaniaâ€™s Bhoke took the advantage of the reunion at the finale to pick up with their romance where they had left off when they got evicted. The beauty told me she is coming to Uganda for Ernestâ€™s birthday on August 15. Watch this space.
What you didnâ€™t see on TV