By Ayo Onikoyi
They say “seeing is believing” and one can not totally understand the feelings, the fetish, the anxiety, the hormonal flow and expense, both capital and human, that are associated with Big Brother Naija until one sees it in all its glory. Not from outside as seen on the television but from inside the house and the support system that keeps it running. My visit alongside other Nigerian journalists and a handful from other African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa on Saturday to the morning of Sunday as a housemate was an eye-opener to the huge devotion and expense that might have been incurred to make the show happen.
The house was built from scratch. It is an estate of sort, made up of several compartments and we were made to understand that there were multiple teams working day and night shifts for 5 months on the house. It is the first purpose-built facility in Africa housing all the zones in one complex. Previous facilities had the house, studio for the live shows, production and post-production units all in separate buildings and sometimes in different locations. But his new and improved BBNaija house, which measures about 1800sqm with an additional 250sqm for support building services such as the sick bay, laundry and artiste lounges, was designed and built to be bigger and better than any of the Big Brother Africa or Mzansi houses. The house has 7x hand held cameras and 32 que ball cameras that will capture every activity in and outside the house. The arena for the Friday night games also received a major upgrade by up to 270sqm
The live eviction show venue is about +300sqm the size of the previous house. The Head of House room in this house is en suite. Previous Head of the House rooms didn’t have a separate toilet and bathroom. All furniture and appliances in use in the house were said to be locally sourced.
Back end, the technical and operational crew are making use of high-tech equipment which include a full digital audio and video mixers Vsm IP base and a Plus 4K camera with an optical fibre transmission that achieves high image quality. Although nobody was willing to put a figure on much that could have been expended to make the house stand and running but it is easy to assume it is a multi-million naira project .
Inside the house as a housemate
For every game there are rules that hold sway and the Big Brother is no exception. Before you could even step a foot into the house there are drills to undergo, drills to make sure everything is ship shape. There are tech people to run you through the technicalities of staying in the house. The first task is being acquainted with the use of the mic which is worn around the neck to pick up audio for the cameras which are strategically located all over the house except in the private conveniences. One of the key rules is to always be with your mic and make sure the batteries which tend to last less than 10 hours are replaced and running all the time.
Perhaps of the hardest challenges of staying in the Big Brother House is being separated from your phone all through the duration of your stay in the house. No phones are allowed. This, may seem enough misery to you until you are told you cannot take other things into the house. The Big Brother House or the Big Brother himself fondly referred to as ‘Biggie’ takes care of everything. At least he is supposed to be all seeing, all knowing Big Brother and he reigns supreme over the house.
After being separated from all that you have come to enjoy life with, there is a feeling of gloom that descends on you but the crew taking you through the drills keeps whispering in your ears “you are going to have fun” or just simply “have fun”.
How in the name of anything worth its salt would anyone have fun without his phone, being cut off from the rest of the world and from his world and personal effects? One is sure to wonder until you step into the lounge of the house!
The fetish of the house
It is almost unimaginable and indescribable the gust of splendour and opulence that lashes at one’s sight the moment you step into the lounge of the house. The lighting is so powerful that it is almost blinding the first time you walk in. I understand this is for the cameras, there are no shadows whatsoever. The walls were draped in tapestry of colours with all sort of ornaments artistically displayed to give a feeling of bliss. And it is all bliss and beauty crafted harmoniously to give an ambiance of love, splendour and peace. The feeling it brings is like one a good swimmer feels at the sight of water. You feel like wanting to pull off your dress and take a plunge.
I took a plunge. Everybody did. The dragon in everyone was let loose. There were wild cries, dancing and even hugging. Such is the effect the house has on its occupants. Perhaps, one can begin to understand some excesses of the housemates. It is the fetish of the house.
After taking in the beauty we began to devour the goodies. When they told us to leave everything behind, that the Big Brother has everything they weren’t joking. He sure has everything. All the fridges and freezers in the house were stocked with all manners of food, condiments, ingredients and what have you. While the women headed for the kitchen the men went to the bar. At the bar, it was more of spirits and wines affair than beer. For beer drinker like me, it was only Legend Extra Stout, one of the chief sponsors of the show. Nonetheless, everyone had a ball because there was something for everyone.
Order of the house
There are two separate rooms of several beds for the housemates to sleep but the Head of the House has his/her own en-suite room. There is jacuzzi and the garden we never went because it was night. There is the changing room where everyone keeps their stuff.