The journey to winning the $300 000 (K75 million) winner-takes-it-all grand prize of the 2012 Big Brother Africa (BBA) Stargame started in style last Sunday in South Africa with cousins Wati and Nafe Kulemeka from the capital city, Lilongwe, representing Malawi.
The two are among 35 housemates in the house; 28 housemates from 14 countries and seven celebrities.
The two Malawian representativesâ€™ entry into the house came at the height of speculation as to who was destined to carry the countryâ€™s flag this year at the reality TV show.
This was largely because six previous representatives to the show namely; Zein Dudha, Code Sangala (twice), Hazel Warren, Mzamose Chibambo, Felicia Ngoma and DJ Lomwe failed to bring home the much-coveted fortune.
While many Malawian fans anticipated to see the usual faces making it to the house on Sunday night, the story was different when host presenter IK Isakioduwa mentioned Wati and Nafe. Societyâ€™s investigations established that there was silence in homes, drinking joints and various entertainment venues where people had gathered to witness the grand launch of the show.
This was because the two names did not ring a bell in many peopleâ€™s minds and eluded the wildest guesses. But the Malawian audience was somehow comforted when the two declared: â€œWe will be ourselves.â€ This seems to be the catch-phrase that Malawians look for when it comes to the BBA game.
And six days now after the game commenced, Malawians are optimistic the two cousins are destined to carry the day.
BBA Amplified representative Felicia Susan Ngoma feels the two have the character that can take them to the last day of the show.
â€œAlthough it is too early for anyone to predict how our representatives will fair in the house, from what I have seen in the first few days, their performance is good and it shows they have a mission to win the money.
â€œThey are really representing Malawi better and I will not be surprised if they win,â€ says the celebrity who is now working for Malawi National Lottery.
Felicia urges all Malawians to support the representatives through voting. She says due to environment, the housemates may be changing their behaviour from time to time, but Nafe and Watiâ€™s key to success lies in the hands of Malawian voters.
A year for Malawi?
An ardent follower of the show, Pamela Munthali from Lilongwe, says this is the year for Malawi.
She describes the two as more confident and brave enough to play the game.
Pamela also says during the days she has watched the game, she has seen a hidden character in the two which, she says, will take them to the last day of the show.
â€œThis game is about confidence and the boys are the best when it comes to that. They are able to read their mates actions and have so far succeeded in keeping themselves from being popular as this is what costs many the chance, especially during the first weeks of the show. They also look very intelligent. I will not be surprised to see them being nominated head of the house back to back,â€ says Munthali.
Multichoice Malawi marketing manager for Centre and North Titania Kaunda joins the pack of optimists, saying the cousins will bring home the purse.
â€œWe are blessed that we have such promising representatives. I have trust in the boys and I believe they will bring the cash prize home.
â€œThey have the character that really represents Malawi and they have international exposure which is an advantage for their survival in the house. My request to all Malawians is that we should continue voting until the last day of the show,â€ said Kaunda in an interview at Cresta Hotel in Lilongwe early this week.
Wati is an entrepreneur whereas Nafe is an assistant administrator at one of the companies in Lilongwe.
They are both 22 and are related through their fathers who are twins.
Malawiâ€™s only first realistic chance to win the cash prize was during the third BBA show when Hazel Warren missed the purse by a whisker after a tie with Ricco of Angola on the final day.