After six series of featuring individual country representatives in the Big Brother Africa (BBA) reality show, M-Net in 2012 introduced a re-branded show with each country contributing more than one housemate to the house dubbed as BBA StarGame.
The show had two houses, Downville and Upville, with seven lucky countries having three representatives.
Until the kickoff day, Multichoice Malawi was tight lipped on who would carry the country’s flag at the show. Viewers had to wait until around 10 pm on Sunday, May 6 2012, to watch BBA host presenter IK Isakioduwa unveil cousins Wati and Nafe Kulemeka.
The reaction from Malawian viewers was mixed. At Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, where over 100 viewers assembled, the news was met with a silence spiced up with murmurings. For the audience, the Lilongwe-based young men looked strange and unpromising to win the purse.
But Nafe quickly captivated the audience in his first interview with the BBA presenter when he said “I will do anything and everything to become a millionaire.”
Icing the audience’s hope was 22-year-old Wati who told BBA that bringing pairs in the house is unfair because he and Nafe “were gonna kill it” because they were “the new face of Malawi”.
Even their parents were optimistic that the children would bring back home the grand $300 000 (about K50 million).
However, surrounded by 53 cameras and 120 microphones, the two failed to make a record of winning the grand prize for the country. This leaves Hazel Warren still breathing the honour as the housemate who missed the purse at the nearest point.
On a positive note, Wati, an entrepreneur, displayed marvellous leadership skills and set up an example that a leader should not be idle but join others in working. He was spotted several times helping in the kitchen and cracking jokes with others.
No wonder, he and the cousin stayed for two months without being nominated for eviction. They showed some strong characters to the extent that Zimbabwean Maneta wrongly predicted that Wati would be the ultimate winner.
Sierra Leone’s Dalphine, Yadel and Luke (Liberia) also envisaged the same. However, back home, the popularity was fading as the days went by. Wati’s smoking and drinking antics, almost similar to another former representative, Mzamose Chibambo, were seen as a disgrace to the nation.
He was seen smoking with friends in the bathroom and was at some point punished alongside his cousin by ‘Biggie’ for smoking in the toilet against the rule that everyone should smoke outside the house.
Love scenes did not spare the entrepreneur. He was once spotted kissing a female housemate, Jannette.
Nafe, who was always charming and quite, was not on the spotlight many times except during partying times such that he could not survive the chopping board alongside Zambia’s Tamara against Alex and Malonza (Kenya) as well as Kyle and Jannette.
His eviction seemed to have affected Wati’s style and cast a dark shadow for Malawi’s dream of winning the money. Wati’s character was nothing to celebrate about due to the drinking and smoking escapades.
Nonetheless, as if the game favours troublesome characters, Wati remained in the game until the last day of the show with five others: Kyle (Ugandan), Keagan (RSA), Prezzo (Kenya), Lady May (Namibia) and Zambia’s Talia.
He was the first to be evicted on the last day and Keagan won it. Wati is the fourth housemate to reach the finals after Hazel, Lomwe and Mzamose.
During separate interviews with Society, preceding Malawian representatives to the show, Felicia Ng’oma and DJ Lomwe, argued that some characteristics in the cousins would help them win the much-coveted fortune. But as fate would have it, they lost.
The country’s failure to win the prize money seven times calls for soul searching on the part of Multichoice Malawi and other stakeholders to find ways of increasing chances of Malawi housemates at the show.
BBA has already announced the commencement of the next reality show and auditions for housemates will start in the next few weeks.