Some Big Brother Africa (BBA) contestants are finding that life after the limelight is not entirely rosy. Is this show worth all the drama it comes with?
While the lovely socialite and businesswoman Pokello Nare can claim to have found a husband, cash and lots of fame, the same cannot be said for the likes of Rockford “Roki” Josphats who still lives in desperate circumstances.
Pokello is no dount the biggest winner. Her detractors have labelled her a gold digger and refuse to see past her notorious sex-tape with Stunner but whatever the her failings, she is the only Zimbabwean Big Brother contestant who has successfully monetised her time in the continental show. Although she was evicted without the jackpot prize, she hit her own jackpot in the form of Ghanaian hunk, Elikem Kumordzi who is now her fiancé.
The celebrity couple has launched a successful clothing line, Queen of Swagger, and their Polikem brand continues to spread across the African continent. On social networking platforms, Pokello and Elikem have attracted thousands of fans — a boast only celebrities can make.
While Pokello has managed to ride the BBA wave to success, conservative locals have never really warmed up to her . The public seems unable to forgive the sex-tape. Men are particularly hostile after her decision to dump her longtime boyfriend Stunner soon after leaving the reality show and publicly declaring her love for the Ghanaian fashion designer. Pokello now runs a successful shoe business in the capital while early this year, she and her fiancé were appointed as ambassadors for the Africa Fashion Week Nigeria.
It remains to be seen whether Pokello’s marriage to Elikem will last the distance, but what is certain is that the Queen of Swagg is enjoying the spoils of having been a BBA housemate.
Roki is no doubt the most prominent former BBA contestant to walk away with nothing. Since being unceremoneously evicted from BBA after that embarrassing incident with Maneta Mazanhi, our King of Urban Grooves, Roki has been the direct opposite of Pokello. He has nothing to show for his time in BBA, except a few contracts that he signed after his eviction.
Besides the over-hyped first show where Roki appeared with rival Maneta and a play documenting their stay in the house, the two are living lives that show no trace that they were ever part of BBA. It seems BBA has failed to open doors to success for singer Roki, as his several baby mamas continue to accuse him of failing to look after his many children.
Roki has failed to keep his family unit together as his two ex-wives, Pauline Gundidza and Melody Musekiwa, allege that the musician is broke and cannot take care of his children. Roki’s ex-wives, who were booted out of their Waterfalls lodgings for failing to pay rent and other bills, are now living apart and they both claim they are done with Roki.
However, Roki, who seems to live in a fantasy world for some reason is convinced that his time in the house indeed made a positive impact on his life both from a business and personal point of view.
“The corporate world has opened its doors for me and it’s unfortunate that I cannot divulge anything further but it’s for the better,” he said.
Though no one can dispute the fact that the musician is highly talented, he seems to be razing his career by failing to professionalise his work. Just last week, Roki clashed with organisers of the Miss Zimbabwe pageant after failing to turn up for rehearsals in preparation for the national pageant.
Rating of success
Zimbabwe has had many other representatives taking part in BBA, and names that quickly come to mind include Munya Chidzonga, Vimbai Mutinhiri, Teclar Mazanhi, Hakeem and Wendall Parson.
In essence there are two ways of looking at the success or failure of participants from the BBA house. Those who use their stint in the house as a stepping stone into business, acting, music or greater showbiz arena are considered success stories while those who sink into obscurity and disappear as quickly as they appeared are judged as outright failures. Unlike in other countries where housemates, upon arrival, are spoilt for choice in terms of endorsement deals, the same cannot be said about Zimbabwe.
Chidzonga, one of the country’s most popular housemates cannot be rated as a failure but at the same time, one can’t describe his as a success story. Upon his return from a failed BBA campaign, he reportedly received a US$300 000 purse from a consortium of business people, who felt he had been robbed in the contest. Reports say he used the money to marry his wife Adiona, wed and venture into filmmaking, during which he has featured in a couple of lead roles. A lot is still expected from Munya Chidzonga who has tried by all means to keep his life out of the public eye. However, news filtering is that he recently landed a role in a South African soapie, Mzansi Love.
Chidzonga may have finally gotten his act together, but many will not forget how his second stint in BBA made him dump the mother of his child, Adiona and say lots of hurtful words towards her. As things stand, Chidzonga’s life is still a struggle.
By Zimbabwean standards, if one fails to utilise the short-lived limelight they get soon after BBA, they are easily forgotten about as soon as the next housemate gets into the house. Such is the story of Wendel Parson – he managed to scoop the grand prize in BBA but no one talks about him any more. He is our forgetten winner.
Soon after BBA, he became an ambassador for the National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) where he helped conscientise the public on the importance of donating blood. However, in no time, Parson was embroiled in a nasty fraud case which saw him and his brother being dragged to the courts. The two were accused of defrauding an insurance company on a car accident claim that the BBA winner had submitted.
However, the Parson brothers were acquitted after the judge presiding over the case said that evidence placed before the court was not sufficient to convict the accused. Besides the NSBZ deal, reports say Parson remains a pilot, but he remains somewhat of a mystery.
Mutinhiri is also another good example of a former BBA contestant who seems to be winning the struggle to keep her head above the waters. So much was said about her conduct and game-plan in the house and many say she was the most disliked Zimbabwean housemate besides Maneta, but she somehow has found a way of transforming that negativity into a success story. Already leading a comfortable life as both parents are well-to-do businesspeople and politicians, she somehow has managed to climb up the ladder of success on her own. Soon after her underdog run in the house, she became the true embodiment of a socialite. She frequented all of the country’s most popular gigs, clubs and at some point co-hosted a famous VIP concert. She has launched her own fragrance, tried a hand in music and has established a fashion line. Though none of her ventures have really gotten off the ground, she did milk her new found fame for all its worth and even won over a few hundreds of fans through her tenacity.
At the moment, she is working as a presenter on Star Gist, a programme that features on Africa Magic. Mutinhiri has also clinched a deal with Nokia in their campaign to promote Nokia Lumia 520. Her star continues to shine. Go sister Vimbai Go!
Others like Teclar Mazanhi may be considered outright failures of the BBA competition as she lasted only one week in the house. Teclar who is a single mother, broke the BBA record when she was eliminated from the reality TV show after a random nomination draw was conducted minutes after she stepped into the house. The only consolation for Teclar was that sister Maneta remained behind but not for long.
Maneta says she does not regret entering the show as it has brought her more good than bad.
“I am grateful for all the support I got when I came out of the house. At first the situation was a bit challenging but it has since proven to be positive, fruitful and worthwhile,”
“I have made new contacts, new friends and business associates. The show even drew me closer to my family because I needed their support and they readily gave it,”
Hakeem joins the bandwagon of Zimbabweans who did not fare well in the Big Brother house and it seems bad luck is still following him. The Zimbabwean hunk ended his affair with BBA lover Cleo on Facebook. The body-builder-cum-musician also tried his luck at last year’s Mr and Miss Zimbabwe bodybuilding contest but even though he got the loudest screams from the ladies, he walked away empty handed.
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