Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
In this internet age, news gets thrust at you, instead of you fishing or digging for them. And so it is that one receives unsolicited alerts of trending and ‘breaking news’ every now and then on one’s smart phone. With Multichoice (DSTV/GOTV), organisers of the show making use of its giant reach cum platforms to give it the widest possible advertisement including exclusively dedicated blogs and channels, one cannot but catch the BigBrother naija bug, at least snippets of it. And with some 50 million Nigerians confirmed by Delloite (the firm hired by the organisers to serve as its accounting consultant), as having voted in the final week of the show, it is not surprising that even our conservative media (print and online) sought to catch a chunk of this apparently huge audience by also relaying happenings in the BigBrother House in their reports. And so I found myself tuning in, out of curiosity, at the start of the show when Housemates were ushered/welcomed to the House.
The very first thing that caught my attention was the female housemates’ dressing. Breasts were popping up all in the name of fashionable dressing. Indeed it seemed to me that they were competing amongst themselves for who would show off the most of that part of our body. Yet this is a part of our body that is not supposed to be exposed to public glare, not even the glare of relations. Is it a breast competition (pardon my language), I asked myself. I was dumbfounded. But the studio audience and the presenter himself were hailing them for their good dressing. On the final day of the programme I again out of curiosity tuned in to the live show which began at 7p.m. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the last woman standing Mercy Eke a.k.a. Mercy Lambo, the eventual winner, all covered up in long shimmering attire that left only her face, hair, hands and legs visible. I was already congratulating her in my mind for doing justice to womanly dignity and even ruminating that BigBrother had perhaps given them a dress code when something else caught my attention. Alas, a leopard cannot change its spot and a BIgBrother show remains essentially what it is, namely, a show that drags womanly dignity to the mud and has no respect for nobility of the human soul, not to talk of elevating the spirit to something more valuable.
Nowhere is this more evident than in its ‘Saturday night’ parties. At these parties, scantily dressed female housemates (in an instance one had only her pant and bra on) with their male colleagues dance away in provocative, compromised positions. I once stumbled into this aspect of the show and after a few minutes I could not bear to watch anymore. And to think that these night parties commence at 9p.m. when many of our young ones are still awake. The organisers could argue that we could use the parental control button to block viewing and that broadcast of highlights of the previous day’s proceedings on the family channel starts at 10.30pm of each day. However, videos of the show are posted on the internet and so available to virtually everybody. Back to the winner’s dress on the final day. When one took another look at the attire one observed that it was rather transparent, her breasts were visible and she wore no brassiere. When she was announced as the final winner several people including the host, the runners up, Mike, other housemates embraced her tightly in the guise of congratulating her while she wriggled her buttocks provocatively. I ask you readers, in all honesty, will such a tight big between two adult opposite sexes one of whom is braless not engender any feelings and thoughts between them.
Nor should we be deceived into believing that having such adult female and male housemates sleeping in one room, often on the same beds would not result into anything. When many of the evicted Housemates were questioned about their apparent sexual activities in the House, they all denied it, saying that they nearly did it but never came to the point of doing it. I consider this to be a tutored line because the organisers did supply condoms to Housemates. One of the Housemates confirmed this when they were taking delivery of their weekly supplies by BigBrother, calling out the items one after the other. Were the condoms given out for fun? The organisers through the host declare excitedly that all 25 housemates have “really entertained us”. What is entertaining about this show? Is it the immoral night parties where Housemates let down their hair, let go, throwing caution to the wind? Is it the smoking and drinking that housemates indulge in, the inanities that Housemates discuss among themselves? I agree with director-general of the Culture and Tourism Commission, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe that the show is a disservice to our cultural values. What edifying and uplifting thing are viewers supposed to have learnt from this BigBrother naija show? Is it the spirit of tolerance when living together with diverse people from diverse backgrounds? How to forge cooperation, helping love towards one another in community life?
Instead what I gleaned from the House was in-fighting, hypocrisy, foul mouthing. Each was plotting inwardly how to outdo the others and win the prized money. Someone was disqualified for fighting, both fighters were ladies but the other had a lesser punishment. One housemate told us during prime viewing time that a certain housemate was only sober and could think rightly on days when he is not “drunk”, that when he is drunk, he misbehaves; that he could not achieve what she has already achieved in her 25 short years; while the other replied that her family could not attain what his famous family had attained. Such was the vituperations. There were no objective criteria in how Housemates were evicted as it depended on the whims and caprices of Housemates, lucky dip, etc. Perhaps the educative aspect of the show was the ONE.org health advocacy campaign where housemates were required to come up with ideas about creating awareness for standard healthcare in Nigeria. Overall though, this was just a drop in the ocean
Notwithstanding, the organisers raked in some handsome amount of money which I guess was the final objective. With a total of 240 million people reported to have voted during the 99-day period and at N30 per voted it is calculated that they earned N7.2 billion from voting by Nigerians. Can you imagine what that money can do for poor communities in terms of provision of social services? If the Nigerian government were to ask each adult Nigerian to contribute N50 to a common pool every three months, one can well imagine that many, many communities would be uplifted each year for good. I can hear you say that corruption may not allow monies so collected to be used for the earmarked purpose.