by ‘Damilola Oyedele
“I wanna meet my President, and that for me would be a dream come true,” 24-year old Munya confided in Botswana’s Kaone during the 90 day stretch that was the Big Brother All Stars competition.
Little did he know that he was months away from actualising this dream. But there were a few hitches.
When Uti Nwachukwu was announced winner of the Big Brother Africa All Stars edition (and more importantly, the grand prize of $200,000), a collective cheer echoed throughout Nigeria. He’d won by a hair’s breadth – eight country votes to Munya’s seven. Twitter and other social networks ran agog with praises for Uti, Nigeria’s ‘latest overnight millionaire’ (See here for the full Ynaija.com story).
Expectedly, the announcement left a completely different taste in the mouth of Zimbabweans. There would have been few, if any, shouts of joy at the declaration of Uti as the BBA All Stars winner. In fact, it came as a surprise to many, including this writer. Having survived several nominations, Zimbabwean Munya Chidzonga was clearly leading the race for the grand prize. Indeed, those who watched the finale show cannot forget the look on Munya’s face – he was shocked; probably on the brink of tears. His had luck run out.
Or had it?
This writer has always mused over the notion that the average Nigerian is a sore loser. This theory is backed up by over two decades of research, mind you. By and large, we just don’t know how to go down with dignity. When a competition goes our way, we’re all good, but as soon as the odds line up against us we cry foul play.
Interesting though, this theory has suddenly expanded to include another African country.
“Foul!” Zimbabwe cried over Munya’s loss. That was expected.
“Let God judge the criminals,” Munya said a few days later. Even that embittered statement is excusable.
Unexpected was the fact that this cry ran high into the ranks of the nation. Philip Chiyangwa (who is President Robert Mugabe’s nephew) accused Big Brother of rigging the votes to favour Nigeria. The voting was not “free and fair”, he said. The President’s Office went as far as asking M-Net for recordings of the show.
Chiyangwa was convinced that Munya deserved more, and acting on this, quickly set up the Chidzonga Trust Fund with the help of fellow businessman David Chapfika. They were able to marshal a whopping $300,000 (literally overnight) for Big Brother All Stars’ first runner-up. (In case you missed it, that’s a whole $100,000 more than Uti’s Grand Prize!)
Munya’s luck was back!
As soon as he arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, Munya was whisked away to meet with President Mugabe at the State House, where the President personally handed a letter to Munya, confirming that he had just become $300,000 richer.
“You have done well for the country… We are very proud of you and your performance,” Mugabe said. Naturally, Munya was full of emotion as he accepted the gift.
This girl just might have fainted (it’s not every day that one gets an autographed flag, a $300,000 cheque and words of encouragement from one’s hero). A welcome party will also be held for Munya today at Q’bana, Harare, where proceedings from gate fees – “a small cash prize” – will also be added to his ‘fortune’.
This story begs so many questions, but this is not another piece on the misguided focus of the African leaders.
Permit me to ask just one, though: If the tables were turned, would Uti have been able to squeeze any sympathy (and cash) from our business and political leaders?
The answer makes me chuckle.