The Big Brother Naija show is an offshoot of the original Big Brother franchise created by John de Mol Jr. The show basically is a reality TV show where 12 to 21 contestants live in an isolated house and compete for a large cash prize worth $171,428.57 equivalent to 60,000,000 Nigerian Naira, and other material gifts, at the end of the show by avoiding being evicted from the house by viewers.
The first Big Brother show aired on 16th September 1999. Endemol served as it’s distributor across all channels.
Research shows that the Big Brother show originates from George Orwell’s novel, 1984 with it’s theme of continuous oppressive surveillance. The show’s premise is hinged on the following concept:
• Contestants are confined to the house and have their every action recorded by camera’s and microphones.
• No contact with the outside world is permitted.
• Contestants are required to do housework and are assigned tasks by producers of the show who communicate with the housemate via the omnipresent authority figure known to them only as Big Brother.
The show has gone one to be syndicated across many countries including Nigeria. As of 21 September 2019, there have been 448 seasons of Big Brother in over 54 franchise countries and regions. English-language editions of the program are often referred to by its initials “BB”. The title of many Spanish-language editions of the program is translated as Gran Hermano (GH).
Nigeria’s version initially was called Big Brother Nigeria. The first show aired in 2006 and had Katung Aduwak emerged as winner, in the stead of Ebuka Obi-Uchendu who was touted to win.
As of today, Big Brother Nigeria which is now known as Big Brother Naija have had 5 seasons. All of which have sub-titles except for the first season. The subtitle of the respective BB Naija shows are as follows:
• Season 2: See Gobbe (Winner: Efe Ejeba)
• Season 3: Double Wahala (Winner: Miracle Igbokwe)
• Season 4: Pepper Dem (Winner: Mercy Eke)
• Season 5: Lockdown.
The show is hosted on DSTV, a South African television company and broadcasted across 49 African countries.
One of the fundamental issue surrounding the show is hinged on the perception people have about its purpose.
While some radical set of people oppose it as ‘immoral’ and showcasing values that are ‘un-African’. Their liberal counterpart celebrate it as good TV material, possessing immense entertainment value.
It is first purpose research has been done on to investigate the benefits of the show beyond it’s obvious entertainment value. Accordingly, it was figured out that BB Naija actually promotes Nigeria’s culture and by extension it’s foreign policy of fostering the goodwill of people in Africa and beyond.
As stated earlier, the show is broadcasted by a South African company and viewed across 49 African states. This literally suggests ‘Nigeria to the world’. This way, other African countries and the world generally can understand and appreciate the cultural values showcased during events and tasks in the house. By showcasing this culture, the show helps promote a positive image of Nigeria to the rest of the world.
As is that is not enough, we can’t take out the fact that it has paved way for our Music industry to grown beyond the shores of the country. It is a known fact that Nigeria’s music industry is on the forefront of pushing African music generally abroad. As a matter of fact, during the first season of the BBN in 2006, the show runners made sure that it was only Nigerian music that was played . It is for this reason that the Nigerian music industry gained inroads on the continent. Nigeria’s music industry always had a continental promotional outlet. Millions of African BBNaija viewers are frequently exposed to Nigerian music. Many are converted to fans.
The impact of social media itself cannot be over emphasized. Social media offers an understanding of the popularity and acceptance of BBNaija among young people on the continent. With engagements all over major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram just to mention a few, it is evident that the show it held in high regard, majorly among the youth.
An impressive example as to the impact of social media is the fact that some contestants who were obscure prior to the show get some sort of relevance and celebrity like status after the show ends. Their meteoric increase in Instagram and Twitter followers serves to measure growth in their fan base.
The most important part of impact of the show is the Foreign policy value it brings to the table. One of the ways states draw attention is through the application of soft power. Speaking in international relations parlance, when effectively deployed, it can be a useful tool in projecting Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives by attracting Africans, even in the diaspora. As a matter of fact, the country records gains from the popularity of the show’s former housemates who become influential celebrities with fans and supporters from all various parts of the continent. If ever Nigeria needs celebrity diplomacy, BBNaija has a host of candidates.
As the season 5 continues with drama and entertainment, we can’t but hope that the best, most strategic housemate join the growing team of BB Naija winners which includes; Katung Aduwak, Efe Ejeba, Miracle Igbokwe, and Mercy Eke.