On a Sunday night, Nafe and Wati, clad in the national flag and Ngoni headgear, made a glorious exit from their mysterious backgrounds into the spotlight and glitz of the M-Net Big Brother Africa StarGame, prowled by 53 cameras and 120 microphones for 91 days.
As the seventh coming of the 24/7 reality show enters its third day, Malawians can only wish that the 22-year-old cousins (real names Watipaso and Alinafe Kulemeka) will not end at representing the country in the Nigeria-dominated series, but beat the record set by former finalists Lomwe, Mzamose and Hazel to bring the $300 000 (about K50.5 million) winner-takes-it-all home.
True to the expectation, profiles sourced from M-Net show Nafeâ€”a self-crowned outrageous, outgoing and passionate travellerâ€”promises to do “anything and everything” to become a millionaire, saying: “My cousin encouraged me and the prize motivated me.”
Like his twin brother, Wati believes they can give Africa “good and clean” fun on the way to the desired feat which always looks so close, yet remains a far-fetched dream, bragging that the change to allow pairs to compete in the game is unfair because he and Nafe “are gonna kill it” because they are “the new face of Malawi”.
Equally positive are the Lilongwe-based housemates’ parents, who confess being mild followers of the BBA culture. They feel their children have the potential to walk all the way from the BBA Downville to the stardom attained by the celebrity occupants of the Upvilleâ€”starring Zambia’s hitmaker Mampi, Ghana’s stand-up comedian DKB, Nigeria’s musician Goldie, Namibia’s singer Lady Ma, Kenya’s rapper Prezzo, South Africa’s socialite model Barbz and Zimbabwe’s soul sensation Roki.
“We were excited because there were a number of equally qualified people who auditioned for the show. However, we hope our reps will survive eviction because they have grown up together, they always click well and don’t find it hard to make friends,” said Roads Authority (RA) Chief executive Paul Kulemeka, the father of Wati.
He said his son, an aspiring architect who reportedly can draw an impression of anything from a cartoon to a monumental design, notified him about his BBA filtrations. He admittedly consented to it because BBA, like any competition, is a game with a hefty prize.
On the other hand, UNDP project manager Peter Kulemeka says he was stunned by Nafe’s sneaky attempt at the game of cameras, recorders, lights and conspiracy despite having no history of participating in public events.
“Honestly, I was surprised to see him on the screen because I only learnt from his friends that he attended the auditions. I only suspected it; I did not expect him to be among the chosen, considering that many were aspiring for the show,” said Wati’s father.
According to MultiChoice Malawi, about 100 aspirants turned up for the auditions in February.Â However, the Kulemekas are counting on their sons’ calmness, politeness, friendship and friendliness as well as public support to fulfil the dream of winning the 14-nation showpiece.
“We want to request all Malawians to assist the boys because they are nothing without support from viewers. They need dedicated support from us,” said Wati’s father, confessing being enthralled by the appearance of Hazel and Lomwe in the finals.
And added Nafe’s: “All the housemates have an equal chance to win. Let’s wait and see what our boys can achieve, but we’re relying on the public.”
To live their dream, the local housemates must beat their Downville housemates, including Angola’s Seydou and Esperanca, Botswana’s Edith and Eve, Ghana’s Keita and Mildred, Kenya’s Alex and Malonza as well as Liberia’s Luka and Yadel.
Others are Namibia’s Jessica and Junia, Nigeria’s Ola and Chris, Sierra Leone’s Dalphin and Zainab, South Africa’s Keagan and Lee, Tanzania’s Hilda and Julio, Uganda’s Kyle and Janette, Zambia’s Talia and Tamara as well as Zimbabwe’s Maneta and Teclar.