Reality Shows are all the rage right now….everywhere and in almost every country it is not uncommon to see behind-the scenes footage of what it takes to be a Super Model, survive on a deserted island, be part of a rock band, be a movie star, dance with the Stars or work in a blue chip-Fortune 500 company as an apprentice. Some are quite interesting and you actually do learn a thing or two from them but I’ve never been a fan of the Big Brother reality shows. I find them boring and totally pointless…what’s there to enjoy watching a group of people sitting around, talking, eating and sleeping? Some might say ‘it’s the Shower Hour, silly!” But then I’m a girl so why should I get turned on watching a group of women have their bath every morning? But the events that took place on the 27th of October 2007 in the Big Brother Africa House really crossed the line and reiterates my opinion that the show should be scrapped. Some have called it the ‘Big Brother Horror Show’, ‘Big Brother Sex Scandal’, even, ‘Fingergate’!
It all started one lazy, hazy Saturday when the Housemates were given tasks to do. They were required to catch an array of magnetized fish and on the reverse side of the fish do whatever task was written there. Simple enough but as it was Saturday, Biggie had provided plenty of booze (undiluted, Russian vodka) and what resulted was an incident that will definitely go down as one of the most scandalous moments in Big Brother history. The housemates became crazed, drunken zombies and engaged in acts better suited for a porno movie. The evening eventually ended in what many call a possible rape! Or how do you explain the actions of Richard the 24 year old Tanzanian film student and the only male occupant of the House fondling and ‘fingering’ a comatose, blind-drunk Ofuneka, a 29 year old Medical Assistant from Nigeria? What makes this even sadder was that it was aired live on international TV by MNET a South African cable network with more than a million subscribers. The whole of Africa saw this girl’s “privates” and they (MNET) allowed the cameras to roll instead of cutting to adverts or showing some other part of the House until the matter was brought under control.
As the Housemates continued to drink shot after shot of vodka, they got increasingly drunk; shouting, laughing uproariously, breaking things, falling about and puking their guts out. One of the Housemates, Tatiana from Angola passed out and had to be carried to the bedroom to lie down. She was later joined by her boyfriend, the controversial Richard who lay beside her. Ofuneka then entered the room completely out of it and unwittingly lay on the bed beside her two Housemates. What happened next horrified viewers as Richard lying between the two comatose women, undressed them and began to fondle, kiss and ‘finger’ both of them! Maureen the 4th Housemate walks in and seeing the scene tries to pull Richard off them but she is unable to. It is at this point paramedics are sent in and Richard is taken and locked in the Diary Room. Finally Big Brother cuts the live feed and switches to an empty garden.
This incident has caused a lot of outrage across Africa with people calling for Richard to be charges for sexual assault. What he did was morally reprehensible and no decent man would take advantage of a woman in that situation. Many diehard Rchard fans are trying to downplay the incident and are even shifting the blame on Ofuneka claiming she ‘wanted it’ too as she was unconsciously pulling Richard to her. Hello? Its like saying it is acceptable for men to have sex with women after giving her date-rape laced drinks!
My grouse is the way MNET is handling the whole matter;
1. They agree that a sexual act was committed between Richard and Ofuneka but it was consensual because Ofuneka (though obviously drunk) was pulling Richard to wards her!
2. They say Housemates were given instructions to only ‘sip’ cocktails after catching a fish; that they should know how to drink responsibly!
3. That they do not see any wrong doing in what took place in the House because no rules were broken.
Can you just imagine that? Why are there such double standards when it comes to Africa? If this happened in America or any of the developed countries this guy would have been hauled off to jail and MNET would have been sued. If you doubt me remember the fallout of the ‘wardrobe malfunction’ between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Sure what they did was consensual but the TV network that aired the incident got a lot of flack.
If there was nothing wrong with what was happening in the House why did they (MNET) send paramedics in and lock Richard away?
If MNET found no wrong doing why did they ask the Housemates if they needed to see a psychologist after Saturday’s incident?
If they knew nothing bad happened why didn’t they show the incidents in the daily highlights or the uncut show the following Friday? Why did they also refuse to air all texts regarding the incident and remove all threads pertaining to it on their website?
Its like there is a total black out about the incident by MNET and they are trying to sweep it under the carpet. Meanwhile neither Tatiana or Ofuneka remember anything of the incident though Richard (whose fans say he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing) was heard 3 days later telling Ofuneka during an argument that she should be careful or he would ‘finger’ her! Imagine!
The contest is set to end on the 11th of November with the winner getting 100,000 Dollars but even if Ofuneka wins, that is still chicken change compared to what she might get when she escapes the Big Brother bubble and views footage of her very public humiliation.
Bolanle Aduwo is a screenwriter, broadcaster and producer. She has written screenplays for several soaps and home videos in the Nigerian movie scene and is currently producing her own movie.