Front Row Report: Big Brother opens 7th season with 7 celebrities and 14 wannabes

by Akin Oyedele

Lights, camera, stars! The 7th season of Big Brother Africa is back and it looks like Mnet is determined to give us the most gripping season yet. With a $300,000 cash prize (about N45 million), housemates competing in pairs and a two houses (über stylish Upville and rock ‘n’ roll Downville), it seems surprises will be the name of this year’s Stargame.

No thanks to BlackBerry, I was thrown in the dark ages (pun intended) and unable to live tweet from the opening show. So here’s some of what happened that most of you didn’t see.

The day started with a press conference with US rapper and Grammy nominee, J. Cole.

He said he would not consider entering the show, but thinks that it is a “super interesting” concept, like many of you. When he first saw Big Brother in England, he thought it was secret surveillance of someone’s house.

He definitely brought down the house in his first performance which I was not expecting so early in the show. He seemed to be a really humble guy and shook hands with randoms as he left the stage. I even almost got a CD signed until one of his staff members insisted that he had to eat, as if they own his stomach.

The main event started on a nice note with VIP reception for VIPs and lucky journos like me. The other thing I took away from it apart from the itis was the sad realization that it is the people who have everything get most things for free.

A few minutes to show time on Africa’s screens, our own IK Osakioduwa came out to prep the eager crowd. He kept getting distracted by the ladies though, and at one point had to declare that “no fashion ‘weaponed’ against him shall prosper”!

It is IK’s fourth season, and his experience definitely showed in his almost flawless presenting. Co-presenter Flavia Tumusiime from Uganda made a great impression on her BBA debut and will probably be receiving another call from Mnet for next year’s season.

Television, or tell-lie-vision like IK put it, generally makes things and people look bigger, including the BBA audience. Before the show started, Derenle gave us a mini performance to get the audience going. They were quite slow at first, and he warned “if you don’t want your children to look like me, you better dance”. I almost did.

Previous seasons of BBA have not fallen short of hook-ups and IK interrogated the housemates’ relationships more than anything.

Keitta and Mildred both said their relationship is complicated with lots of differences, when asked separately. Yadel is in a relationship but Luke is single, and Yadel’s boyfriend is okay because he knows they are “just friends”.

Many housemates said they have no other strategy than to be themselves. I think that’s impossible under constant surveillance, although strategy may count for significantly less with the new random nomination system.

I do not know if I want a Nigerian to win because we may have real protests across Africa’s streets from people who say we have rigged it for the past 3 years. But ‘Nigeria’s Lady Gaga’ Goldie has already caught everyone’s attention, after saying that self-service will be her way of surviving the show out of a relationship, if she stays that long.

Zimbabweans, Tanzanians and friends of Zimbabwe and Tanzania have to start voting to keep their countries in the game. “I knew it!” yelled the Zimbabwean next to me. Even the newcomers (Liberia and Sierra Leone) probably have higher hopes.

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