The ongoing edition of Big Brother Naija is codenamed See Gobe! Just like that song that made Nigerian artiste Davido famous. And much as the house is located in South Africa, all housemates are Nigerian, in fact, listening to all of them talk is a memory run through the pathetic films that made their way from Lagos to our TV screens thanks to Africa Magic.
Since the show became a phenomenon, it’s the second time a Big Brother involving only housemates from a single country has been broadcast all over the continent.
The first one was still Nigeria, ten years back. Then, there was very little felt cultural imperialism from the Nigerians, Africa consumed their dramas but still had the liberty to enjoy music from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Angola among others thanks to Channel O and the then new MTV Base.
In 2006, Blu*3, Chameleone, Bebe Cool, Halima Namakula, Lady Titi earned international nominations in Channel O awards, Kora and MOBO awards. A year later, Bebe Cool and Peter Miles would pick up three awards at the Channel O event in South Africa.
More artistes from East Africa like Keko, Nameless, P-Unit, Sauti Sol, AY and Wahu would go on to win such awards like the MTV MAMAs, Channel O Awards, Kora Awards and the rest.
As Big Brother Naija launched at the beginning of this year, the sentiments had of course changed, what East Africans and other African countries used to look at as a fair share of the cake is fast becoming a Nigerian cake.
For instance, unlike the past years where you could find Navio’s song playing on MTV Base countdown, today you will find a Niaja Top Ten, Africa Magic that aired one of the first Ugandan productions, Fate by Cindy Magara strictly airs Nigerian content on over eight platforms that have been availed to the entire continent.
That’s to say, much as Trace Mziki has a geographical restriction of only being viewed in East Africa, Trace Naija is available to all subscribers regardless of where they are located and the same applies to Maisha Magic East and Bongo.
These all make the rest of Africans feel like they are being used to promote a single culture and country that when the reality show was launched, there was a backlash that got people questioning why Big Brother Naija was available for the entire continent if they were not going to be inclusive at all.
“It’s ok for Nigeria to have its own Big Brother, but it’s wrong for them to force it onto us,” a viewer from Malawi once tweeted.
In a series of tweets, he went on to wonder why a show that has Nigerian celebrity guests, performers, DJs and music is being pushed on all the platforms of the pay TV yet they’ve not done the same when the show was still continental.
In a facebook post earlier this year, Roni Mulindwa, husband to former Big Brother Africa housemate Sharon O, seemed to wonder why this particular Big Brother was available to the entire continent when Big Brother Mzanzi was only a South African affair.
“This is typical Nigeria pushing their stuff down our throats, they started off with MTV Base, to Trace Urban,” he said on the same thread.
Ugandans that love the show usually feel like they are being attacked by those that question the relevance of showing Big Brother Naija to the entire continent, they tend to argue that it’s a free will and no one forces them to watch, while others in defense note that they have been forced to watch just by virtue that for the first time, biggie is available even to a GO TV subscriber.
“The reason we didn’t watch the past seasons of Big Brother Mzanzi is because it wasn’t availed to us, this has been!” said one.