Amidst the media coverage of a rather bloodless Grammy Awards, the third season of Big Brother Naija made quite an impression with its opening live show. The twenty housemates were unveiled during mini-interviews, which offered glimpses into the neat symmetry of their lives. Some of them were like avatars of contestants from the show’s previous season. 23-year-old Kelvin reminded me of Miyonse, slight and light-skinned, while 28-year-old Anto vaguely evoked the polished image of TBoss. Angel, 31, is the oldest in the house and speaks rapid fire pidgin, one of the players grounding this current season desperately lacking in authenticity. And speaking about being authentic, I present specimen A: Tobi Bakare, but stylized as Bakre, and I’m guessing this is part of efforts to shore up some appeal.
You see, Tobi Bakre is dark and buff and decently good-looking, and he proudly admitted during the pre-show interview that he works out to get the ladies. For now, he’s a benign physical threat to Teddy A and his tattooed muscularity, and the splintering of the Big Brother Naija fan base is inevitable, depending on what features appeals to fans the most. In another world, Bakre and Teddy A would probably be good friends, comparing gym notes. However every seems hung up on the fact that Tobi Bakre says he is 23 years old.
You’ve been thinking about it. You probably can’t sleep at night and everywhere you go, you are reminded about how old you are becoming. Social media can be a toxic place, and Tobi’s gleefully youthful age published across various platforms is the trigger you can’t seem to avoid. We are all in this, so let’s band together and scrutinize this little statement of fact that has been sold to us through Big Brother Naija…shall we?
While age reduction isn’t particularly new, we have seen interesting configurations of this concept in football and politics, even pop culture. To a large degree, the explanation for this is rooted in a collective obsession with youth and the inner culture within industries that makes it required. In a way, age reduction buys longevity, and for a youth-calibrated show like Big Brother Naija. Before Big Brother Naija, I have seen pictures of Tobi Bakre on my Instagram explore page, which led me to his account where I casually flitted about and left. One time, on Instagram still, I saw a birthday message from his older brother Femi. Femi Bakre is the founder of Kraks TV, and he won in the category of New Media in the 2017 Future Awards. He’s 25. Tobi certainly looks much older than Femi Bakre and since his brother is one of the most successful digital influencers in the country, it shouldn’t be too much for him to post a picture of Tobi’s birth certificate and put this age matter to rest, right?
Age isn’t the only thing that doesn’t seem to add up with Tobi. He works or has worked with Heritage Bank, one of the sponsors for Big Brother Naija this season. On yesterday’s edition of the Handover Show on Beat FM, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi retold the story of how a would-be contestant witnessed how Tobi was rejected at the Big Brother auditions, only to see him pop up now in the Big Brother house. Currently, Tobi is the Head of House on the show, a position that involves supervision and authority, and a human channel between Big Brother and the rest of the housemates. He looks smart and capable and likeable. He might probably win, but I know I won’t be rooting for him.