I have read several newspaper articles and social media comments about the ongoing Big Brother Naija reality show. After a critical analysis of all these opinions, I have concluded that we are a product of the choices we make. While some people may only see the negatives, I choose to see the positives of the reality show.
For me, I see the cultural and socio-economic opportunities the reality show presents. The show can be used as a veritable tool to promote brand ‘Nigeria’.
Just a quick introduction to what the show is about: Big Brother is a television reality show created in the late 90s. In the show, the contestants, known as Housemates are made to live together in a custom-built house known as the Big Brother House under constant surveillance.
These housemates compete for a huge cash prize and are completely isolated from the outside world making it difficult for them to comprehend what the viewers of the reality show (who vote to keep them in the competition) think about them as housemates.
At the end of the reality show, the last man (or woman) standing wins the ultimate cash prize. With other mouth-watering gifts. This has been the format of the show since inception.
This year’s edition of the reality show tagged; ‘Pepper Dem’ has a grand prize worth 60million naira. The headline sponsors of the show, Bet9ja and other sponsors, have also promised other mouth-watering prizes for the housemates and even viewers (the voters) are not also left out of these cash prizes.
For over two decades, MultiChoice has promoted this reality show both at the continental and national levels. However, some Nigerians would ask about the benefits of this reality show. Why has MultiChoice continued to make huge investments around this reality show?
For one, the show is an avenue to promote our rich traditional and cultural heritage; the Brand Nigeria. For example, the Heritage Bank task sometime last week promoted Nigeria’s rich traditional and cultural heritage. The housemates used the challenge to showcase the traditional cloths, food, dance of various ethnic groups in Nigeria.
For a reality show that is being viewed across 49 countries across the continent, this is an authentic voice to promote Nigeria.
Secondly, there is unity in diversity in the BBNaija house. The organizers of the reality show selected Nigerians from various ethnic groups. Even Nigerians in diaspora were not left out in this year’s edition of the reality show. These housemates are aware that they are playing for a cumulative grand prize of 60million naira; they are all aware that it’s a reality game show but despite the rancor and disagreements in the house, the housemates have proved to viewers that irrespective of their social status and background they can live together in unity.
Third, there is the opportunity of self-realization. I have keenly observed that whenever a housemate is evicted from the reality show, the host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu will ask that salient question of “what your experience was like in the house?” and all have recalled how life was for them before they entered the house and after they left the house.
Housemates made comments like; “I never for once believed that I could tolerate living with other people”,”I have learnt to let go”, “ I have learnt to be at peace with my fellow man” (or woman as the case will be), “I have learnt endurance”, “I have learnt perseverance”, “I have learnt to be patient”. All these testimonies of self-realization and discovery and rediscovery is a clear indication that these young Nigerians did not just go into the house to play a game.
Let’s also look at the economic impact of the Big Brother Naija reality show. For a standard film production, the Director needs at least 60 crew (Pre-production, production and post-production) to achieve quality production. For a reality show like BBNaija not less than 300 crew members are employed directly and indirectly for a production of this sort, translating to a source of income for these Nigerians.
To increase the number of employment and revenue generation for Nigerians and Nigeria, the organizers of the reality show made a strategic decision to host the reality show in Nigeria. As a result of this, they invested in a multi-purpose studio facility worth million in Lagos in order to broadcast the reality show. This in turn has generated employment for hundreds of more Nigerians.
I stand to be corrected but the reality show has also taught us a lesson in the promotion of democracy. The reality show promotes the ideas of choice and people power. This is the philosophy of democracy.
Viewers of the show have the final say in determining who stayed in the house or left during eviction show on Sundays after the votes are collated, audited and confirmed by Deloitte, a reputable auditing firm. This is a strong indication that the well televised reality show subconsciously promotes freedom of choice and democracy.
Government agencies also benefited from the reality show. For example, Lagos State Signage & Advertisement Agency (LASAA) will generate revenue for the state government as a result of the billboards and advert signs the organizers of the show and corporate bodies sponsoring the show will put up.
I would like to conclude this write-up by a quote from John Robert Wooden; a retired American basketball player who once said; “There is a choice here to make in everything you do. So, keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you”. The organizers of this reality show have given us a choice to unlearn and learn, a choice to create and recreate, a choice to brand and rebrand. What we make of these choices largely depends on us.
By Eucharia Amadike