Between BBNaija and the Nigerian Creative Industry: Five Takeaways from Big Brother Naija 2019
The fourth season of the popular Big Brother Naija otherwise known as show has finally come and gone. While the housemates are counting their booties and probably thanking their stars, many audiences of the show are still reeling from the magnificent tour of reality the show took them through for a long period of 99 days. A lot has been said and written about the show, but hardly have these pieces said anything about the subtle romance between BBNaija and the Nigerian economy as a whole, and the creative industry in particular.
The Pepper Dem edition, as the just-concluded season is popularly called, appeared strategically poised to benefit the Nigerian fashion industry the most. The poster-boy for this artful campaign was the anchor of the show. Call him Ebuka or a strolling human mannequin, you won’t be wrong. From high fashion agbadas, to bespoke suits, to stylish Tuxedos, the popular media personality was always completely flawless in the just concluded BBNaija show. But don’t be taken in by his charm and glamorous attires, for if you look beyond the person wearing the apparel, you will discover that the clothes are but a class act to promote the Nigerian fashion industry.
The fashion industry is an important aspect of the Nigerian entertainment industry. Hardly do you see one without the other these days. According to the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), the nation’s fashion industry is worth about $10 billion as of 2014. However, a PricewaterhouseCoopers report projects the Nigerian fashion industry to grow from $4 billion in 2014 to $8.1 in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1%. Enough of the forecasts and estimates now.
An average Nigerian is a lover of fine wears. This has shaped the fashion industry in the past years as a huge money-spinner. The nation’s fashion industry which was formerly dim has recently seen a luminous upsurge in great fashion designers, some of whom Ebuka was advertising at the just concluded show.
Ebuka brought his classic dress sense to each edition of the show. For the finale, he wore a tuxedo designed by Nigerian bespoke fashion tailor, Mai Atafo. The tuxedo, Ebuka revealed, had 9Kg gold embellished, complimenting his already edgy and classy look. As usual, within hours, the picture went viral and broke the internet. (@Aretackc wrote, “This guy has been the one doing the peppering since day 1 with his clothing, I only came to see what you wore, the housemates don’t bring the chilli.”)
On the first live eviction of the Pepper Dem edition, Ebuka flaunted a blue caped outfit by another Nigerian fashion designer, Vanskere. Vanskere is a traditional fashion designer, with a line of ready to wear urban African luxury brands. The unique cobalt blue caped outfit Ebuka wore was matched with a black velvet cap that had blue and yellow embroidery in the shape of pretty flowers. It is not surprising that Ebuka’s clothes get as much coverage as the different housemates and their squabbles.
The fashion industry in Nigeria owes him and the show the peculiar exposure it received during the last edition. He is the fashion highlight of each season, and I dare say that those who do not watch the show for personal reasons try hard but fail not to notice when they see the latest picture of his fashion statement trending from the show. It is likely that the housemates also got their clothes from these fashion designers in the course of the show. Imagine the financial implication of clothing the housemates for 99 days?
Another takeaway from the show is the prominence given to the entertainment industry. The Pepper Dem edition of BBNaija did a lot in the redistribution of wealth in the entertainment industry with the number of musical artists that appeared on the show and performed at the launch and the grand finale.
The launch of the 2019 edition witnessed performances from various Nigerian artistes. Burna Boy, who also enjoys the nickname African Giant, and Teni and Zlatan Ibile declared the show open with great performance. For the grand finale, musical sensation Tiwa Savage, hip-hop recording artist MI Abaga and reggae-dancehall singer, Patoranking gave the audience musical performances that will be remembered for long. 2face Idibia also paid a surprise visit to the housemates. This visit coincided with his birthday and turned into a party, complete with food and musical performances. The same 2face Idibia paid a visit to the house in 2006 when Ebuka was a contestant. What a coincidence!
In the Nigerian entertainment scene, live performances remain one of the best ways of making a huge amount of money as a musician or comedian, and the BBNaija had a lot of parties that could pass as live shows. Another way artiste makes some cool cash is through appearance fees. Many top singers get paid to put in an appearance at red carpet events and their presence gives class to such events.
The BBNaija show had a lot of actors, comedians, and singers flocking in and out of the house. It is not a crime to guess that money exchanged hands between them and Biggie after each visit.
This season of the BBNaija was the second to be held in the country. This means most of the technical crew jobs came to qualified Nigerians with the skillsets. This way, there were great wins for Nigerian photographers and videographers. In the course of the show, there were a lot of photos coming out of the Pepper Dem house. The photos were mostly from different professional photographers. Certainly, the photos received on each live show by Ebuka are no work of an amateur. The same goes for the videos compiled by the various videographers. This is just another way the show has created employment for certain professionals that we don’t get to see on the show. These are the people who do the behind-the-scenes work so that those who enjoy the show could have the best of reality sold to them. Definitely, reality shows don’t come cheap.
Organising the show in the country also created wealth for another line of professionals that would have missed out on this opportunity had it been taken outside the shores of Nigeria as before. I refer here to the make-up artists and the different hairstylists that gave a boost of reality to the show too. The hairstyles sported by the housemates during the various live shows were made by in-house hairstylists and the make-up was by in-house make-up artists. Also, we should not discountenance the flow of money into the hands of those who served as food vendors for the show for the technical and production crew.
The BBNaija show, as usual, received some harsh sound bites from a section of the public. Some uninterested public questioned its value. For me, many of the tasks in the show were engaging and intellectually tasking. To highlight a few, the coronation task on the show was not just entertaining but educating as it showcased a unique history of the Tiv culture to the world.
Most tasks tested the creativity and intellect of the housemates. For example, they were asked to stage a fashion show as part of their runway task. This would have been an easy task if they were all Mai Atafo in the house. But coming from various backgrounds, these housemates had only the willingness to survive a week more in the house in common.
The Runway Task Presentation required that the Housemates create a coordinated Neon Gradient- themed fashion line that reflected the 3D colour gradient of Oppo phones. They whipped up their creative spirit and stepped on the runway displaying colourful, stylish neon couture designs, complimenting accessories and winning the admiration of viewers. The housemates showed their understanding of what a runway show is and their outfits were coordinated, stylish and high fashion. If this is not brilliance, then what is?
Whichever way we choose to look at it, the season of Big Brother Naija ‘Pepper Dem’ has done more good than harm to Nigerians.
Ardent followers and fans of the show can catch the Pepper Dem Highlights on DStv Channel 154 and GOtv Channel 2, weekdays from 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, and on Saturdays 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM.