Who would have thought that placing a Zimbabwean woman in the Big Brother house would have caused such a storm? Less than 4 days after Makosi entered the house and News Zimbabwe declared that â€˜Every Zimbabwean should be ashamed ‘of ‘this chicken-brained sanctimonious squit’ (sic). The general message being that Makosi is a bad representative and the people of Zimbabwe should disown her.
Personally, I LOVE Makosi but I am not writing this in her defence. My reason for blogging about this is slightly more selfish. The News Zimbabwe article got me thinking, what if one of the Big Brother UK contestants was a Kenyan?
I am not talking about a Kenyan that I know, or even know of. I am talking about a total stranger. A random Kenyan living in the UK who is successful in his/her application to join the Big Brother UK house. How would I react?
As soon as is announced that contestant number X is Kenyan I will probably be on the phone to Mshairi. After screaming â€œuuuuuuuuwwwwiiiiiiiiiii!!!â€? my first statement would be, â€œ I hope he/she is good lookingâ€? quickly followed by “he/she had better not be thick”.
Shallow, I know, but I am being honest with myself.
From the minute the contestant steps out of the limousine I shall analyse and critique every aspect of their clothing, body and body language looking for signs that make him or her an unworthy ambassador. Lord forbid that within their first minutes in the limelight they fail to meet my standards of acceptable â€˜Kenyan in Public/Foreign Land/on National TVâ€™ behaviour and I shall undoubtedly ask Mshairi,
â€œNgai! Couldnâ€™t they find anyone else to represent us?â€?
Yes, I shall label this person our ambassador.
In an ideal world I would say that what he/she does is his/her business and he/she should not be lumbered with the undue burden of representing Kenyans. Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world. For many UK viewers this may be the first time they see a Kenyan person (other than the millions of nameless, faceless barefoot athletes). They will be going in to that house as a minority, if not on racial grounds, certainly on the basis of his/her nationality and as is the case with all minorities, it is usually the behaviour of one person that is used to justify and perpetuate stereotypes. How this person behaves may set the precedent for how the rest of the UK views people from Kenya, me included.
As a blogger I would blog about the first Kenyan in the Big Brother UK house however the News Zimbabwe article has made me rethink the way I would approach this subject.
After reading their harsh criticism of Makosi, be it justified or otherwise I can now honestly say that I would never publicly utter a bad word about a Kenyan Big Brother contestant. By publicly I mean in a forum that is accessed by many who are non-Kenyan. This includes my blog. In fact I would even go one further. If, on any non-Kenyan public forum, I found that our Kenyan was being subjected to criticism or ridicule I would jump to their defence (where possible) especially if it was an attack on their Kenyan identity.
As a Big Brother addict I know the types of personalities they throw into the house. It is usually the loud, the exhibitionist, the self-centred, the annoying, the obnoxious, the arrogant, the eccentric and a whole load more. Our Kenyan would be no different.
Like all Big Brother contestants I expect this Kenyan to annoy me and irritate me. The very nature of the show means that they will do crazy and embarrassing things. These things make great TV. That is the role of a great Big Brother contestant.
In private, on the phone to Mshairi or possibly on those Kenyan forums I would be the first one to bitch and moan if they do something embarrassing. It would, however, be wrong for me to publicly â€˜disownâ€™ a contestant because of his/her behaviour because I know that while on the one hand they are an unofficial Kenyan ambassador they are first and foremost a Big Brother UK contestant. They are in it, like everyone else in the house, to win Â£100,000. That sort of money will make you do crazy things.
I, the â€˜normal oneâ€™, on the outside, however should not be engaging in public name calling and mudslinging. I should act as any other â€˜normal personâ€™ would and be shamelessly patriotic in public, cheering our brother/sister on.
After all, the minute I come out in public as a Kenyan, I too become an unofficial ambassador and if the rest of the UK canâ€™t say a good thing about us I would at least like them to know that when it us against the world, we are unified and we stand by our own.