By Lawrence Paul
It is undeniably one of the biggest reality show franchises in history. Created and originally broadcast in the Netherlands in 1999 and subsequently syndicated internationally, there have been over 380 seasons of the show internationally known as Big Brother.
The concept of the show is to gather contestants or “housemates” as they are usually called together in a specially constructed house isolated from the outside world to live for a specified number of weeks or months while being continuously monitored by live television cameras as well as personal audio microphones.
These housemates would the partake in certain tasks and duties while attempting to co-exist. They would be voted out weekly based on popular demand and eventually the final one emerges to win the grand prize. Needless to say it is a show that has been imbedded in a lot of controversy and bizzare happenings.
Big Brother was introduced to Africa in 2003 and since then the producers of the show have constantly been in reception of direct condemnation from “concerned sectors”for showing “immoral” content on the TV screens and exposing the African youth and audience to obscene ways of talking,acting and lifestyle. However a closer look should be taken at the real values behind the Big Brother idea.
Africa and rest of the world is living in an era filled with communal violence. Whether it be based on race,religion, gender,sexual preferences,language, cultural values,political affiliations etc. Communal violence remains that number one reason for death and even domestic fracas. And there is nothing more underlining as a cause for communal violence than man’s intolerance for his fellow man. These same instances of intolerances are visibly displayed as you watch the housemates interact in real time with each other. For the Big Brother Africa show Contestants are chosen from different parts of Africa. North,South,East and West and these contestants come into the Big Brother house with a variety of conflicting ideals,orientations,cultural preferences,mindset and fears. Yes fears!! Over the years audiences across Africa have come to notice either a wary respect or outright fear for Nigerian contestants by their east African colleagues. Furthermore,there is a clear battle of superiority between the North African and South African individuals. These pre-conceived notions often lead to very bizzare alliances between “countries”in order to formulate strategy which would lead to the elimination of other least liked housemates. Inevitably these alliances also lead to a lot of betrayal and hatred all of which the viewer simply sees as exciting television content but leaves people with more questions than answers as to why an individual can so strongly dislike another person who he has never met and who has never offended him just because he is from a certain part of Africa. On the flip side too is a certain refreshness to the show when you see loyalty and deep friendships ensure between the most unlikely housemates from different nations.
At the end of this intense cohabitation, full of fights,alliances, heartbreak and bonds,love and hatred and sometimes even outright violence Africa is exposed to entertainment via education, tv content through human discontent and a reality show winner revealed through an exposure of the losses,insecurities, weakness and flaws of other people.
Now Big Brother Nigeria ends on April 22. Same concept…same objectives. Gather 12-16 contestants from different parts of the country and keep them in a house isolated. And let them do different tasks and try to coexist despite different languages,cultural and ethnic background,religious sects and denominations and several of the multifaceted Nigerian factors which affect us all as individuals. Did we see the alliances? Did we see betrayals? Did we see signs of intolerance raise to a fevered pitch? Or was there another opportunity to see the beauty of oneliness and togetherness, the beauty of unity,the pride in being able to say..”This is my brother/sister simply because we are from one nation,one continent.” What do we look up to in our Big Brother? What did Big Brother teach the little brothers in their millions who will watched it daily? Your guess is as good as mine.. Cheers!