‘BIG BROTHER AFRICA’ PAST WINNERS: Where are they now?
By Pamela Echemunor
‘Big Brother Africa’ is an adaptation from popular reality TV game show, ‘Big Brother’. The African version of the show began in 2013 and featured 12 contestants from 12 different countries; each country was represented by, at least, one contestant and joined others to live in a secluded house while trying to avoid being evicted by viewers and fellow contestants. One of them won a hefty cash prize at the end of the show. After the 2014 edition, there were deliberations on whether Nigeria would withdraw sponsorship from the show based on some criticsm and viewers’ discretion.
Eventually, Nigeria withdrew but didn’t opt out completely from the ‘Big Brother’ project. This year, 2017, due to high viewer demand, ‘Big Brother Naija’ returned for its second season. The 2017 edition was anchored by Ebuka Obi Uchendu who won the maiden edition in 2016.
The ‘Big Brother Africa’ game show which has helped quite a few gain their way into the limelight may be over and focus is now on past winners who have kept busy. See what they have been up to.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 1 – Cherise Makubale (Winner 2003), Zambia
Cherise Makubale was the first-ever winner of the ‘Big Brother Africa’ Reality TV show. The good girl from Zambia walked away with $100,000 on September 7, 2003, after 106 days in The House. She is said to have been the perfect woman with her homely attributes of cooking and cleaning up in The House. She was also never romantically or sexually involved with anyone in The House even though others were openly acting raunchy. She, instead, played the role of relationship counsellor to two of The House’s love birds, Gaetano Kagwa and Abergail Plaatjes.
When asked what she would do with her prize money during the show, she promised to buy her stepfather a house, which she did, plus two other properties. After the show, Cherise travelled extensively as a Goodwill Ambassador for Zambia, doing charity work all over Africa – especially spreading awareness on HIV and AIDS, sometimes through UNICEF. In her home country, she made donations to several orphanages and helped raise money for a physically challenged persons’ skills centre in Chipata, which is now called the Cherise Makubale Resource Centre for the Disabled. She also owns an educational park called The Cherise Kids Park, an educational park that enlightens children on HIV and AIDS, road safety, malaria, child abuse and environmental issues. She eventually got married, in October 2008, and is now based in London, UK. Cherise is said to be still active in her charitable ventures in Zambia but is rarely spotted in her hometown of Kitwe.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 2 – Richard Dyle Bezuidenhout (Winner 2007), Tanzania
Tanzania’s Richard Dyle Bezuidenhout was one of the most controversial winners of BBA. In The House, he was said to have pulled a Kemen! Apparently, it’s not the first time a housemate allegedly had or attempted to have sexual affairs with a fellow contestant. Two weeks before winning the coveted prize of $100,000, he was allegedly intimate with Nigerian contestant, Ofunneka Molokwu, while she was drunk and unaware of her environment. Without mincing words, he digitally penetrated her. Although the following day, Ofunneka told ‘Big Brother’ in her ‘Diary Room Session’ that she was aware of what went down and had no regrets, a lot of viewers frowned at Richard’s actions and accused him of sexual abuse. Shortly after the show ended, Richard played a role in a Nollywood film alongside former housemate, Meryl, and notable Nollywood actors/producers, Ini Edo and Uche Jumbo in Player No. 1.
He played the quite befitting role of a playboy about to wed while having intimate relations with his fiancée’s sisters and friend; a role which somewhat resembles his life in The House. The young, up and coming actor/producer had issues with his wife following rumours of an affair with fellow housemate, Tatiana, but the scandal was quickly resolved. In a post on his blog a while after leaving The House, he explained that he had to take a break from the limelight to focus on his marriage and life, which he is currently doing while acting and producing films from his film company in his home country, Tanzania.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 3 – Ricardo Venancio (Winner 2008), Angola
Angolan Ricardo David Ferreira Venâncio, popularly called “Ricco”, like his namesake and 2007 counterpart was a playboy; an all-round lady’s man and was never ashamed of it. He was seen constantly flirting with female housemates but never really committing. A year later, he partook in Big Brother Brazil but stayed inside The House for only four days. On one occasion, he was taxed at the usual weekend party tagged “Angola” for presenting to Brazilian people, music, clothing and typical foods from Angola. The Angolan DJ, Falcão, played some of Angola’s main hits, with rhythms like semba and kuduro for participants in the 9th edition of the programme. Paula Marisa, the Angolan cook, showed different types of foods made in Africa. Ricardo has since remained below the media beam and is currently living and dating an unknown young woman in Brazil.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 4: “The Revolution” – Kevin Chuwang Pam (Winner 2009), Nigeria
Kevin Chuwang Pam was the first Nigerian to win the television reality show; it was also the same year that IK Osakioduwa took over anchoring the show and, this time, instead of the initial $100,000, Kevin walked away with $200,000 and found love in a fellow housemate who he eventually married, Tanzanian-born Elizabeth Gupta. With his prize money, he founded his own company, Down2Earth Entertainment. He also started an initiative tagged “Jos Bring It On”, where he gives the youth a chance to express themselves and pursue a career in entertainment. The University of Jos graduate relocated Jos with his family where he currently runs his businesses, one of which is a restaurant called “Gupsy Delight”, which is run by his wife. The restaurant serves intercontinental and African dishes. Kevin Pam also runs an NGO called “Naija Pikin”, with which he invests in needy Nigerian/African children. Lately, he has put his musical career on hold to focus on his wife and two children.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 5: “All Stars” – Uti Nwachukwu (Winner 2010 ), Nigeria
Uti Nwachukwu was another controversial ‘Big Brother Africa’ contestant, after partaking in one of the previous seasons when he was voted out for trashing The House due to a temper tantrum. He appeared to come back a changed man when he was invited to partake in the “All Stars” season which he eventually won. Some would say he gained favour with the passing of his father during his time in The House thus, in a way, appealing to the sympathy of viewers.
Since winning the coveted prize, he has remained in the limelight acting, modelling and co-hosting a TV show on Africa Magic called “Jara” alongside actress and comedian, Helen Paul. Uti’s sexual preference became highly questioned when rumours arose about his relationship with fellow actor, Alex Ekubo. He quickly shut down the rumours when he as asked about it and found himself an alleged “beard”. Now, Uti is focussed on developing his image more within the entertainment industry.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 6: “Amplified”- Karen Igho and Wendall Parsons (Winners 2011), Nigeria and Zimbabwe
The 2011 edition of ‘Big Brother Africa’ was one of the best and the first to produce two winners, Karen Igho and Wendell Parsons. Karen, who is a native of Delta State, Nigeria, is a media personality and known for her wide appeal whereas Wendell is a trained pilot.
Two years after winning BBA, Karen announced she had cancer but was cancer-free by 2014; that same year, she married long-time fiancé Yaroslav Rakos. In 2015, they welcomed their first child at a hospital in New York, USA. Karen is currently taking care of her family and accepts movie and OAP jobs from time to time.
President Robert Mugabe gave Wendell, who also won an additional $50,000 for his endeavours. His mother, unfortunately, sued him for a debt he owed her. He was also arrested for fraud charges against a bank but was later acquitted. He has since remained below the radar.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 7: “Star Game” – Keagan Petersen (Winner 2012), South Africa
Usually, it’s a good thing, they say, when someone gets the kind of money Keagan got from the BBA Star Game. Unfortunately, in his case, he didn’t make good use of his prize money though he claimed to have invested most of it. He also did a degree programme in Business in order to achieve his lifelong goal of becoming a billionaire at 50. To top it all, he was involved in a motor accident in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. The accident shattered his arm in three places; fortunately, he recovered fully. He has since been visiting sites, cycling and taking time to find himself in his hometown in South Africa.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 8: “The Chase” – Dillish Mathews (Winner 2013), Namibia
Dillish was one of the most beautiful women to compete in the BBA competition and, some may say, this boosted her chances and eventually helped her to win. For this edition, the winner walked away with a whopping $300,000! Yet, in an Instagram video two years later she said: “Read about what I did with my money that I got from ‘Big Brother’? It’s finished. A couple of Rolexes; kept going to Milan, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai… It’s finished. Kaput! So, here it is just in case your life depended on it. I don chop finish”.
Dillish is dating long time boyfriend, Steven Gaeseb. On the business end, she is said to be worth $2.5million; she owns an ice cube making business called “Dillish Cool Cubes”. In 2014, she launched her lip stick and lip gloss line called “Vault by Dillish” in Namibia. She followed this with launches in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. Dillish also co-owns a high definition hair salon called “High Definition Spa” which she launched in 2014. High Definition Spa is a brand that prides itself on providing customers with high-quality Brazilian hair, lace wigs, lace closures and products to maintain them such as curl activators, silicons, conditioner and shampoos at affordable prices.
Dillish Mathews opened a restaurant in 2015 called “Bolster Restaurant” that serves cuisine and class in equal measure. The restaurant serves both traditional Namibian favourites as well as international cuisine like Portuguese food.
‘Big Brother Africa’ 9: “Hot Shots” – Idris Sultan (Winner 2014), Tanzania
‘Big Brother Africa’ “Hot Shots” is the most recent ‘Big Brother Africa’ show and it was one of the most sentimental as Nigerians felt cheated when Idris was announced winner instead of his Nigerian counterpart, Tayo Faniran, who received news of the birth of his first child while the show was on. Tayo became Idris’s runner-up in the show but received multiple endorsements as compensation. Idris has since gone back to doing comedy and acting. He is also an OAP on Choice FM 102.50 in his home country, Tanzania.
He is rumoured to be trying to win back his ex-girlfriend, Samantha, a former fellow housemate on the show, after hinting on Instagram by posting a picture of her on his wall and commenting with an apple, secretly meaning (the apple of his eye).