interviewBy Amina Alhassan and Ogechi Ohalee
She got a lot of controversial comments during her stay in Big Brother Africa 2009. Finishing fifth place in the competition, Nkenna tells it all to Sunday Trust about her stay in the house and the how it has helped bring out the best in her.
How has life been after BBA 2009?
Sincerely speaking it has been really stressful because you are trying to update yourself, upgrade yourself and live up to the expectations of people. It has not been easy. But we give God the glory and we will always remain grateful to Him always.
When you were in the house of BBA 2009, you had very few fans as many people openly showed their dislike for your kind of person on set. But years later you have been able to turn the table around and have made a name for yourself. How did you manage that?
I would say it is all about self discipline and what one believes in. In life there is no perfect being; in whatever you do in life one must have fans and haters. So once you already know that, that should not be a problem. But surprisingly your haters actually motivate you to be a better person by proving them wrong. But when you feel you have everything and you have fans to support you, you become over confident. Your haters actually put you on your toes thereby you prove to them that whatever impression they had of you was wrong.
While in the house, did that perception of hatred people had for you in any way have a negative impact on your self esteem?
I don't think it had any negative effect on me. Rather I would say it made me who I am today and who I was in the house. I always believe in this saying, 'don't judge a book by its cover'. I think all the negative perception actually made me more serious than I would have been. I know a lot of my fellow housemates back then, that were just there and no one remembered them after the whole show in 2009. But my case is different, maybe because of the hatred they had for me. Everyone wanted to know what that stupid girl was up to now. So everyone kept track of what I did and what I was into. But the bottomline was that it actually made me stronger.
Why did you go in for BBA 2009?
Funny enough, people don't believe that I have never seen or watched that programme BBA before. I had never I just heard about it. Then one day I was just making fun of my friends and I said to them 'do you know what, I just want to be known somehow in the society either in the negative way or in the positive way' and they all laughed it off. I even told them that I would just go and rob a bank so that they would say the first successful female armed robber in Nigeria and may name will be splashed everywhere in the media.
Some of my friends told me about it and I decided to give it a try. My father wasn't really kin about me going into the house but eventually he allowed me. Probably my face was deceiving people as they thought I was very old while I was actually very young. I have actually not lived outside home before that time. I have always lived a dependant life so it was a difficult thing for my father to allow me to go. I was a kind of entertainment person right from my secondary school days and so I decided to give the House show a try.
Another thing that spurred me into joining the game was that I was looking for a platform that would make me popular and also I had always wanted to be an employer of labour and I promised myself that I would have people working under me. So I felt that way I would get people to know the kind of person I was and also get to know different types of people.
Can you describe your stay in the house?
My stay in the house was fantastic and it gave me a chance to know the different kinds of cultures not only in Nigeria but a round Africa. At the beginning I found it a little bit difficult to adapt but along the line I encouraged myself by telling myself that I was a Nigerian girl so I should be able to make an impression in the house by taking over the place by doing whatever I could do. At the beginning I was a little bit under pressure and disoriented but at some point I took over the house. At some point it was kind of dry and boring and I was missing home and would wonder what made me come to the house. But hey, at some point I made myself realize that I was there and there was nothing I could do about it. At some point it was more of a competition, it was challenging and at some point we were just there.
If given another chance would you still go into the game of BBA?
I certainly will. In as much as people say that first impression matters but for me I feel first impression matters for those who have actually been there. So yes, I would love to go again to correct some of the mistakes. As some people felt that I talked too much, I over reacted and cursed, from my own point of few there was no way I would have had an idea what the outside world would look like. In my heart I felt I was entertaining people. There were some things I did that I felt were doing the right but it was only when you come out that you will realize that you would have done some things better. For me going back will give me an opportunity to do things right and give people the opportunity to know me better. But on a second thought my going back to the house is going to be all about the money and nothing else. I want the second opportunity because of that money (Laughing).
While in the house, your fellow house mates said you did not know how to cook and .....
That is not true. I was always in the kitchen of the house in fact at some point they said I loved food too much because I was always cooking. I loved cooking because I have never been a fan of Junk food. I was making major Nigerian dishes in the house.
After BBA 2009, have you maintained the relationship with your fellow housemates outside the house?
Not all but a few....
Amongst your fellow BBA mates who would you love to do the game with all over again and why?
I would want all of us all over again because everyone had their own little thing they contributed. Each one of them had something that they impacted on me while in the house. Though in the house there were some special people you would naturally be attached to but if I had to pick I would love to do it with Geraldine again and again and also with Kevin just to make things right and understand ourselves better.
Of all the Housemates, who did you really see as a threat and wanted out desperately?
That is an interesting question because funny enough when you are in the house you get a very wrong judgment of people because the person you see as a threat might not be when you view it from outside. For instance the people who I thought were threats were nothing when I watched the whole game after the whole game. These people were actually nothing because no one noticed them. I put up Geraldine up for eviction not because of the relationship but because I felt he was my only threat in the house and I had to get him out of the house.
There were people I felt had strong personalities but outside the house they were never really made an impact. People I saw as threats were those that were being evicted and it was like who really knows what Africans want.
Tell us what it was like convincing your parents.
My mum is late so my dad was who I needed to convince. Though he knows that I am a show business kind of person and I love entertainment. So he supported me to the core because he believes in me and knows that whatever I put my mind at doing I go for it. When he asked me my reason for going into the BBA show I told him that it would help me become who ever I wanted to be in future and he said fine. My sisters were so supportive of me from the beginning of the show till the very end and till today they are supportive. Especially my eldest sister she is making sure that I stand on my own.
People say you changed your name to fit into the trend of the society. Can you tell us why you changed your name?
I have heard people say that my name is not my real name but a fake name. When I say Nnenna is my real name does not mean that all other names I have are fake. You know in the African culture there is baptism and there you are given a baptism name, your parents give you a name and the society in which you were born also gives you a name. Some people have more than fifteen names but you are only permitted to write down three on your certificates. So when I mean real, it does not mean my other names are fake. In my quest to be on the set of BBA I had to look for a name that will suit the occasion. I wanted a name that would ring a bell whenever it was called. I was looking for a unique name that would actually stand out and that was how I picked one of my names which was Nnnenna to be the name I used for the show. Ever since then the name has been what I use.
You are about starting a TV reality show. Tell us about it?
I am not going to say much about it because you know how people are. I want to start a TV reality show that would run for a month with a very high intellectual content. I am trying as much as possible to see how I am going to bring in a lot of African culture. A lot of people feel TV reality shows are baseless because they feel they do not really have content. So I am trying to make sure it has relevant content and see how it can cover most of the parts if the country. It is going to be ethical, political, social and entertaining at the same time. It has to be a reality show that has something to offer and not just for the fun of it.
That is not all, I am also planning to open a dance academy and focusing more on my fashion line. I am working very hard to see if we can register in the London fashion week. I like to start big....(Laughing)
In your opinion do you think the BBA show has achieved its aim in uniting Africans?
Well in my opinion, I think it's getting there but it's not there yet. Very soon it will get there if it is well organized. At some time it was about causing division amongst Africans because of the whole voting thing because some people allege rigging and preference for a particular house mate. But at some point you will see where other countries vouch for other house mates asides those from their country. I can tell you that many people have sent me requests telling me that they want to visit Nigeria based on the Kind of stories that are being told in the House of BBA about Nigeria. I think with time it's really going to create that African bond and unity. It's a step by step process.
Do we see you going into movies soon?
No way...I am not a movie kind of person. If you force yourself to do what is not in tune with your soul and mind you end up messing yourself. It is always good to follow that thing that is in you.
Any last word for your fans?
I would want to apologize to them because I know that they would be very disappointed in me because the line I am towing is not what they had expected from me. They need to understand with me because I have always been a creative kind of person and that is what I enjoy doing. Nobody knew I was going to have a clothing line but I do because I love being creative.