WE DO NOT WANT BIG BROTHER III

by Leo Uzo

First published in the The GUARDIAN, Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SIR: It has been announced that Big Brother Africa will be returning for a third season. It will start on August 24, 2008 and will last for 91 days to end on Sunday, November 23, 2008.

It is pertinent to review the second of the series of Big Brother Africa which began airing on August 5, 2007 and ended on November 11, 2007. The 12 contestants were chosen from 12 countries within Africa including Nigeria.

The show attracted a lot of criticism all over Africa, for not showing positive values to young people. The organisers of this programme are not interested in morals or values, they are driven by the quest to make money at all cost, because they believe that money is everything and where a little profit can be made, anything is fair. Quoting The Guardian of September 16, 2007, “M-Net and its mobile phone company collaborators are making a lot of money from SMS messages being sent at high cost by viewers during voting sessions and in form of feed back. They are likely to make more than triple the prize money of $100,000 and the cost of production, not to talk of advantages in terms of brand equity. At work here is capitalism without moral restraint.”

This aptly described the reason for airing Big Brother Africa. The organisers do not mean well for the viewers or for Nigeria. Are we helpless with this assault on our values by M-Net / DSTV? DSTV which aired Big Brother Africa II carries the show on an age restricted channel that has an age 16 rating and warns that the show contains nudity and strong language but we know this is mere lip service, because this does not work in practice. At that age, children are impressionable and a lot of harm is done by the programme.

The last edition of Big Brother Africa II was well-described by Dr. Reuben Abati, in The Guardian of September 16, 2007 with the caption: Big Brother Africa II – Pornography and Money. He said:

“In 2003, the programme was criticised on two grounds; an over arching obsession with money and low morality content. On the second ground, religious groups in Zambia and Uganda asked that the show should be banned from television. There were misgivings also in Nigeria.

In comparison however, the class of 2007 has played up all the negatives, making BBA II look like a terrible experiment in on-air pornography with the girls behaving like sex-starved animals in a zoo, and the men like a bunch of barracudas with “uncontrollable third legs”. For over 40 days we were treated to a gross overdose of sexuality and pornography, the portrayal of women as sex objects, self-denigration by women and the spectacle of 12 young Africans whose laziness is non-paralleled and whose love of obscenity is without boundaries. I believe that there was a problem of casting with BBA II; the show’s director must accept the blame for coming up with such a selection of trashy set, M-Net must return to the drawing table and ask the question; what is the objective of the programme? What value is it adding? Is this corporate social responsibility or a search for brand equity and profit going out of hand?”

Nigerian viewers will not forget in a hurry the sexual assault of Ofunneka after a sip of Vodka (a Russian drink) and the subsequent assault by Richard. The question now is: should we continue to be fed with all kinds of undesirable materials on our airwaves?

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission should stop the airing of this programme. It is within its power to stop the airing of Big Brother Africa III. The Ministry of Information should sanction this programme. Nigeria has nothing to gain from it.

Mr Uzo writes from Lagos

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6 Comments

  1. Big Brother Africa is coming back not because the producers love Africa or Africans. No, BBA is a dollar triplicating (sic) machine. However, the programme’s ‘success’ raises intriguing questions about the notions of freedom and democracy. Telecommunication is entrenching mass participation; individuals with access to a mobile phone or the internet are so empowered that, at the click of a button votes can be registered. This is arguably the most transparent and rig free electoral process in Africa.

    Yet, it’s unfortunate that the ‘electorate’ in exercising their franchise are bank rolling propaganda at odds with the satiric notion of Big Brother as conceived by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The novel depicts a totalitarian regime that prohibits truth, love and the concept of the human person. This is what BBA stands for. Permitting it a third term on air is to succumb to the rule of a powerful minority who believe all men are equal but some are more equal than others.

    This minority, DStv and its sponsors, rather than provide the electorate with role models: real and accomplished Africans, who we can emulate, cook up an unreal show of dysfunctional personalities. In summary, we must reject this third term agenda of BBA – we are being dished bread leavened with unsavoury yeast that constipates us but commercially invigorates them.

    Reply

  2. I thought that NBC had banned Big Brother from being shown on television. So, what’s all this gist again?

    This article (which I actually just saw in last Tuesday’s Guardian) says the same thing we heard over and over again about Big Brother. I wish those in charge will spare us the effort of repeating these same arguments about it. Reading and writing about them leaves a bitter taste in the mouth!

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  3. I fully agree with Mr Uzo. I have never watched any of the BBA shows but once I was in an office of a big man in the stock market in Ikoyi and he helplessly lamented the evil of BBA on family values. Most Nigerians will outrightly condemn the program. They organizers of BBA should imitate the reality TV of Bank PHB which is productive, entertaining and positive.
    They should show they have some imagination rather than taking advantage of our biological reflexes to make profit.
    Those that watch simply watch out of curiosity and lack of self-control.
    African’s should stand up and shun that useless program.

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  4. I am a teacher in a secondary school in Lagos. I am well aware that such a programme had been aire on TV. I have read opinions of so many people who have watched the programme. It is very sad that this same progamme is coming up again despite so many negative comments about it.

    I could feel the dangers my students are going to be exposed to for another 91 days. I can assure you that the process of child upbringing is a task that is daunting for so many young couples these days. It is the same for the teachers. We do not want to raise students who will be in the class daydreaming because of what they have been exposed to. If we really want to raise up God-fearing, reapectable and loyal citizens in our country and in the whole of Africa, we should resist the evil that BBA will bring to us.

    Parents are doing a lot and they also need the help of the Ministry to put a ban on this programme. If everything can be checked from home, what about their experience outside. Last year, during the time the programme was on aire, I went on excursion with some of my students. So we decided to go to a fast food restaurant to get something to eat and behold what I saw on the four screens staged at strategic locations was this TV progamme. I had to leave the restaurant immediately with the students without buying anything. Of course, without telling them the reason we left without buying anything not to arouse their curiosity.

    I am pleading with everyone let us come together to put an end to this programme.

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  5. Africa is being sold by those in authority.Even with this age of HIV our broadcasting councils still permit such sexually perversed shows to go on.When Gaetano had live sex on TV, Richard committed adultery and won BBA they are seen as heroes.Now Gaetano Kaggwa is UNAIDS Ambassador to Uganda,What a plot to destroy Africa.Am extremely tired of careless regimes.
    BAN BIG BROTHER FROM AFRICAN TV’s.

    Reply

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