LOUD WHISPERS: Big Brother Naija: 7 Matters Arising

Big Brother is an international reality TV show that was created as an experimental  game  to see how human beings would relate to each other if kept sequestered for an extended period of time, usually up to three months, having minimal contact with the outside world. Over the years, the results have ranged from hilarious and entertaining to outright scandalous. The novelty of watching a handful of young adults languishing in a house for weeks on end doing next to nothing never seems to wear off enough to discourage investments in the show. The more scandalous and outrageous the behaviour in the house, the more the ratings. With ratings comes sponsorship. The notoriety acquired from participating in the show is enough to guarantee a long-term win for most of the contestants, winners and losers alike.

I watched most of Big Brother Africa Season 1 in 2003. The show was on when I got home from work, and I was not paying much attention to it until a question came up. One of the participants asked ‘When did the genocide in Rwanda happen’? The other housemates gave responses to the question. None of them got it right. I was so shocked I dropped what I was doing and starred at the TV. I could not believe what I was watching and hearing. The only one who seemed to come close to a right answer was Gaetano Kagwa  from Uganda who said ‘ I think it was 1995’. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide is one of the most devastating events in Africa’s history. No African, regardless of where they live should be ignorant of this terrible chapter. It is like being a Jew and not knowing about the Holocaust.

The housemates all seemed to be young, most of them under 30, from different countries and backgrounds. It dawned on me that people of my generation needed to pay more attention to what younger people were saying before the inter-generational gap widened even further. I never became a Big Brother fan, but I treated the show as an acquired taste. I watched highlights whenever I was able and filed away whatever I learnt from the shenanigans of the housemates. The show is about real life – choices (wise and foolish), dreams, hopes, creativity, immorality, friendship, lust, the list is endless.

Big Brother Naija (BBN) which is meant to be the Nigerian version of the show has generated so much controversy, thanks to the hawkish nature of social media these days, that everyone is now an authority on the ills of reality TV. The moral brigade is out in full force, with many calling for the cancellation of a show that has admittedly become increasingly brazen, especially in relation to sexual matters. As stated above, I am not a Big Brother advocate, but I am a fan of rational thinking. These are some my thoughts on the Big Brother Naija ‘crisis’


The serious objection I have to BBN 2017 is that it is being recorded in South Africa. With all due respect to our sister African country, this is not right. The arguments that Nigeria lacks the capacity to host the show are ridiculous and those mouthing the excuses, Nigerians and South Africans alike should be ashamed of themselves. Yes, Nigeria would have presented a challenge in terms of power supply, security, technical support and so on, but what happened to building capacity? Big Brother is big business, but it should be interested in not only milking the massive market that exists in a country like Nigeria, it should also be able to help build infrastructure. All the material, technological and human resources required to host the show would have created jobs and provided income for Nigeria. It sounds like Greece winning the Olympic games and building the stadiums in Spain.


All those screaming themselves hoarse over the impropriety of Big Brother Naija are welcome to the world of what I call ‘Fast Food TV’. The world of The Jerry Springer Show, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, Real Housewives , ‘Married at First Sight’,  Wives and Girlfriends (WAGS) of Miami, and so on. The world of the insane, the inane and the inexplicable. Not everyone wants ‘Fine Dining’. My favourite TV channel is The History Channel, followed closely by National Geographic (but not when they are showing snakes and spiders). However, every now and then I have a ‘TV hamburger’ when I am switching channels and come across an episode of Real Housewives of somewhere or the Kardashians. I am fascinated by the dramas of people who never seem to have any work to do other than shop, eat, dress up and go on vacation. I however cannot stomach more than a few minutes of TV ‘French fries’.  If fast food is your thing, good. If not, reach for the remote control.


Big Brother is a game for adults. For a period of three months, live with complete strangers and during that time, show them your best and worst behaviour, manipulate, ingratiate, show leadership, make friends, incite enemies, do whatever you can to remain popular, entertaining and relevant to avoid being voted off the show. The housemates are mostly single adults and after being cooped up for weeks on end, with alcohol flowing freely, hormones go into overdrive and naughty things start happening. The more discreet steal touches and snuggle under the blankets. The more brazen go further. Too disgusting, offensive and immoral? Reach for the remote, just as I do when I have had enough ‘TV fast food’.


In the interests of protecting our collective human rights, those calling for the scrapping of BBN should take it easy. We cannot mount surveillance over what is appropriate for consenting adults to watch. The show is rated 18, and people should learn how to operate the Parental Guidance controls on their televisions. If we go down this road, one day some people will call for the banning of all those indigenous Africa Magic Movie channels full of witches, Juju men and the like. Then we will have a full blown war on our hands. Do you have any idea how many people are fans of Africa Magic?


Thinking about shows like the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of wherever, the beautiful, well-groomed people who pass their time engaging in one meaningless drama or vacation after the other are not as stupid as they come across. They are mostly shrewd, calculating entrepreneurs who are acting out a script for which they are well remunerated through their modelling contracts, endorsements and sales of merchandise. The scale of youth unemployment in our countries is a huge cause for concern. If sponsors of BBN are dangling a cash prize of U$50,000 for the lucky winner, it makes sense that the housemates would outdo themselves to win. The prize money for Big Brother Africa is U$300,000. From the Big Brother Africa/Naija shows, we have seen the on-show notoriety ploughed into careers in modelling, acting, radio and TV, music and public relations.


I have made the case for the remote control, freedom of expression, career advancement, and I have appealed to the moral police to sheathe their weapons. We however need to talk, and I mean the sponsors, the young people on these shows or those thinking of going on some day. There is a thin line between bravery and stupidity, and the roaring flames that look welcoming on a cold day can also consume you. Yes, you own your breasts and your ‘eggplants’, and I am sure they look very attractive. But do you really need to unleash all your business on millions of viewers/voyeurs? I am not sure all the breast sucking and blow jobs are necessary. If you are seeking a career in show business or the entertainment industry, risky sexual behaviour will not necessarily open doors for you, it will only make you vulnerable and disposable.


For the young women, we still live in a different universe from men. The handsome young man on the Big Brother shows can bonk all the women in the house and still go on to win, hey, people (including other women) will keep voting people out for him to stay so he can score some more! Sadly, hypocrisy and double standards still reign. The women are the sluts, the tramps who get voted out once they have the audacity to put their breasts up for consumption. Sexy does not have to be trashy and a total lack of inhibition is quite dangerous.

For all those who are not fans of shows like Big Brother but have no interest in jumping on the ‘banish’ bandwagon, I suggest we should aggressively promote alternatives. If you are in a position to do so, step up and sponsor shows that promote real talent such as entrepreneurship, writing, debating, acting and so on. Our policy makers should concern themselves with laws and regulations that can address our real problems such as creating livelihoods, ending discrimination and violence against women and making sure that we attract and not chase away people who use us to amass subscribers and then take the show elsewhere to record.

The problem is we all know the benefits of eating healthily and regular exercise, but when no one is looking, we reach for the burgers and French fries. Oh, it is those Kardashians on again. Let  me watch for a few minutes…………………..where is my remote control?


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com


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21 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Big Brother Naija: 7 Matters Arising

  1. Lota February 27, 2017 at 8:36 am

    I must say, this is a rational point of view. I watch BBN and I really catch the fun and get inspired via mentors that come in the house. Those that yell about it cannot stop the program because it helps announce the housemates to the world.

  2. Gloria Nelson February 27, 2017 at 8:39 am

    God bless you mummy for this great article. This is so insightful, though I have been expecting mama to write about it and as usual, she made valid points.

  3. gbemisola February 27, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I am glad that this article was written though it doesn’t change the fact that i dislike the show. Because really, it’s empty

  4. Olanrewaju February 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

    I see no effect actually, there are thousands of hardworking Nigerians with great ideas and just a little money will make them grow into the future, but No! They won’t support them. They will rather make youths do things that are un-called for.

    The organizers and sponpsorers of this programme will never allow their children do this. This doesn’t change my mind at all

  5. Olushola Aderanti February 27, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Thanks mami. I am glad you wrote this succintly and rationally. I belive that those making a fuss about the ills of this programme are just proving self-righteousness. They do worse in their closet and seriously, it’s for adults and if you don’t want to continue watching, change the channel.

  6. fola February 27, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Big Brother Nigeria.! Lol. Really, when I see the way people fuss unnecessarily about it on social media makes me laugh. It’s just a show and like Bisola{one of the housemates} said, whatever goes on, on the show doesn’t go beyond the show.

  7. Femi Diipo February 27, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I have tried not to concern myself much about the fuss going around about BBN. I’m not for it and I’m aware I don’t need to be against it. Like mama rightly says, fast food may not be healthy but we eat them almost every day. The world really need such spices

  8. D'apoet February 27, 2017 at 11:47 am

    I’ve never really seen much of BBN, but I recently had to go on YouTube just to confirm the obscene scenes people are talking about. BBN, is a show, just like any good movie. Drafted and acted all for the sake of believability. We watch worse movies and no one cares about their obscenity

  9. Olakunle Olajide February 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I love the sarcasm at the end of this write up. I laughed out loud. I used to watch big brother Africa when it evolved back then and sincerely it wasn’t as bad as this. I have only seen one highlight of the BBN and that was when Mr Ibu of Nollywood was present and i appreciated is creativity but the immoralities has worsened. The naija culture in terms of moral decency has eluded us. Entertainment has become worrisome in this country yet it is somewhat the most celebrated. Things that are naturally bad have been painted good. The choice is ours. I personally choose not to get swayed by the immoralities of this world. Like the writer said, the remote control is in your hands, just change the channel. Shikena.

  10. Akpes February 27, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I can’t help but say be blessed ma’am. You just spoke my mind, BBN is nothing but bunkum to me.

  11. Princess February 27, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    I never watched the BBN until last weekend. Even though I already heard alot about the house mates, it went viral to the extent that I knew all their names without knowing their faces except Bisola who’s an actress. BBN is just an avenue to show case the highest maximum of perverseness, all they do is encourage salacious act in disguise. Anathema of the highest order!

  12. Branny February 27, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    BBN is a total waste of money. I guess the sponsors have too much money and don’t know what to do with it, i need that money like everyone need oxygen.

  13. Oluwatosino February 28, 2017 at 4:30 am

    Thank you so much Ma for this article….. You really spoke my mind in most of the points you made ma.. GOD bless you and your reasoning will increase higher ijn.
    Not everybody will support BBN, so watching it is a choice.
    I received so many Messages from people advocating for BBN to be stopped and all that, and people asking what am gaining from the show. See truth be told, nothing much to gain from the show except the entertainment aspect, but when you look closely you will understand and learn one or two things from the lives and lies people live in.
    Am a fan of BBN, although I don’t support the immoral act going on in the BBN house and I like the effort of biggie to at least manage the act one way or the other. They are all adults and can’t b controlled anyhow,thats why BBN rated the show as 18 so that the young onces won’t watch it and get corrupt.
    Nice piece ma, God bless abovewhispers.com for always giving us the best of articles.

  14. Toluene February 28, 2017 at 4:40 am

    BBN the talk of the town lately.. Thanks ma for this piece. Most people saying BBN is this and that, what they do in their closet is worst than what the housemate does.
    The show is not composory for you to watch, if it doesn’t go well with you, take your remote and change the channel.
    And for the sponsors of BBN especially payport, they are trying to create business awareness and gain more customers, same as legend, minimie chichi etc, at least my flatmate started taking minimie chichi when she started watching BBN cos she sees the joy in d faces of the housemates when they eat the chinchilla and now she is a big fan of it also…. Awareness of products.
    I watch BBN even if am not in support of the immoral act and how some housemate behave themselves forgetting they are showcasing themselves to the whole world. The show can be entertaining and funny at times… So no hating peeps

  15. matilda February 28, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I am happy that mama trashed this issue. I have seen loads of unnecessary articles on BBN, like we don’t watch worse in our movies? Well, to be realistic though, the women in this part of the world are always the ones to pay dearly for it but it’s just a show.

  16. Maureen Adams February 28, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Very rightly written. I am not a BBN fan but i must say that it’s just a show and the lesser we start taking paracetamol for another man’s headache the better for us. Thanks

  17. Mide February 28, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    The women can’t get away with it. The other lady that was nude on the show up till date, that’s how she’s been referred to. I know the men like Tony can move on but peeps like Bisola will always be hit.

  18. latoya February 28, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Finally, I can see a well written article on this show. I don’t know why people are yelling all of a sudden though? The nollywood you watch do worse and then, what’s the point? 24million naira isn’t a joke mehn!

  19. Princess February 28, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    This BBN is just a piece of shit to me and I must confess the sponsors and orchestrator of this must be barmy. It would have been better if only there could be an educative version of this program, if only they could house some intelligent people like manner and make them compete for similar prices. But, no! Our people don’t encourage sanity. Our society promote evil over good, indecency over decency, immorality over morality and ungodliness over godliness. The best in mathematics will go home with either a carton of cowbell milk or indomie noodles. Ludicrous stipends and sardonic prices, yet those morons in BBN will earn millions for coming to suck breast, speak trash, display nudity and get under the sheets of international TVs. Oh what a waste. God help this our generation because people are gradually yielding to the devil all in the name of money.

  20. DSEED February 28, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    I am not familiar of BBN until now I read it in this article what I am familiar with is BBA. Maybe I would have, have something to commend on. As the writer said, it is a good opinion to sponsor the shows that promote real talent.

  21. Ogungbaibi Omowunmi March 10, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    I really do not know what to add or deduce , you have said it all, just make the remote control your companion and use it as many times as possible


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