Vanguard (Lagos)

2 September 2012

Nigeria: Big Brother and the Gender Issue in Africa

Loads of critics will arise after reading this essay. Many African feminist critics could come for my jugular. I hope though that they will appraise the issue objectively and address it effectively.

On my part, I will try as much as I can to be very objective and underline my points with verifiable facts, and keep it short. Very short. After all, this is only just a road map. One of the most salient points of this year's Big Brother Africa is the relationship issue in the house. Of course there are two most significant ones: Goldie and Prezzo; Talia versus Keagan/Seydou.

This essay is not all about the details of these two relationships. It is about how these relationships clearly underscore the issue of supposed female subsumation in Africa. Supposed, because whenever female subsumation is discussed, it is in reference to the man subsuming the woman. Nobody ever mentions the woman's/women's part.

First, Goldie and Prezzo. Obviously, as a Nigerian, Goldie did have a whole lot of chances of making it to at least the last five/six. Big Brother Africa's history testifies to this. But, was she able to do that? Clearly, she could not. It was not because Africans would not have kept her in the house if she did try to be entertaining a bit.

The major reason was because she lost sight of why she was in the house and made her new focus Prezzo. And true to type, the self-styled President utilized the opportunity presented to him by the unfocused and unassertive Goldie.

Upon meeting Prezzo, Goldie lost focus and made him her primary focus of entertainment. She washed, cooked, tended to and loved him wholeheartedly. In doing this, she maligned herself from her housemates and also failed to provide the necessary entertainment to Africa. Consequently, she became the most hated housemate to have ever come out of Nigeria since the inception of the Big Brother Africa show.

Throughout the entire history of the Big Brother Africa, I do not think that Nigerians have hated any Nigerian housemate more than they hated Goldie during her time there. I know that some people will point to the fact that Nigerians still voted for her during her stay in the house, but then, sheer patriotism made that happen. No Nigerian made any extra effort to keep her in the house, and when she was evicted, everybody heaved a sigh of relief.

The question now is, was Goldie not completely African womanish in her actions in the Big Brother Africa house? A traditional African would say she was. The nouveau African lady will hesitate and show her "ambivalence". Exactly how they(the women) subsume themselves and give men all the powers.

My assertion here is that Goldie's obsession with Prezzo led to her "early" eviction. As pointed out above, loads of people all over Africa could not feel her "entertaining" personality, hence she never, at any point, was Africa's beloved. Yet Prezzo stayed on to be the first runner-up. As you would see later on, African women decide who is entertaining.

Next up is Talia. Sweet and beautiful Talia. Africa's beautiful queen. Loved by both male and female. Beloved of Angola and Seydou. Talia had it all working for her when she was Seydou's loving and faithful girlfriend. In staying true to Seydou, she became the epitome of African beauty mixed with African virtue. Africa loved her; Seydou campaigned for her; and she had a very high chance of dragging the number one spot with Keagan. Then like Eve(not Big Brother Africa's Eve), she fell. Keagan, dangling the serpent.

Talia, who had continuously professed her love for Seydou and stayed strong. Liked by all the housemates, she was never nominated for eviction. The only time she came up for eviction was when "Biggie's machine" chose her country. When that happened, Africans showed her love. Sey showed her love by campaigning for her too. But during the last week, Keagan moved in with one thing in mind: seduce her.

He succeeded as she fell for that with just a week to go. It seemed that Keagan's motive was "exterminate the dual opposition of Talia and Seydou". That done, she lost Seydou's support. Now, most importantly, she lost the support of African women. I will explain.

It is quite obvious that majority of the voters/fans of Big Brother Africa, or indeed any reality show are women. They decide who wins and who does not. While most of them come out in public and try to support Talia, behind, they criticized her actions and withdrew their votes.

To them, she had betrayed "African womanhood". Meanwhile, Goldie, who stayed faithful and was lauded as the epitome of African womanhood by most of the African women(after her eviction of course) was also evicted for being "too in-love"!

My summation: African women are too patriarchal to define what they are agitating for. Their thought processes are so male-defined that they willingly hand over themselves and their sisters to male domination. If the man says, "she is too lovey-dovey", the African woman accepts and searches for the guillotine. If he says she is a tramp, the African woman asks for public execution!

My purpose in this essay is not to answer questions. What I merely wanted to do is to point out two things; firstly, African women are the architects of their own downfall. Secondly, lack of principle and discipline make African women submit themselves to male domination. Live television has proven this and live television(especially reality shows) reflects reality. I have provided guiding points! Let the debate begin!

*Mr Oruh, a social commentator, wrote from Lagos

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