INITIALLY, when Ola Bakare and Chris, Nigeria’s representatives in the ongoing Big Brother StarGame, told fellow housemates of their plan for voluntary exit based on health grounds, it sounded more like a joke.
Yadel was the first to ask, “are you going to bathe in champagne in Upville?” leaving the gang in stitches.
But the moment Big Brother’s voice came, requesting the Nigerians to pack their bags and exit the house, a sombre mood immediately permeated the air; it was a big shock.
Watching the entertaining duo pack their belongings in readiness to leave the Downville was heartbreaking for some of the housemates, who could not hold back tears.
Junia, in particular, was inconsolable. She and Ola were particularly close and were called Downville’s ‘fake married couple…’
Chris and Ola exited the reality TV show, following Ola’s battle with dangerously high blood pressure. Based on medical advice, the Ogun State native, after due consultation with his partner, Chris opted for voluntary exit.
From their mood in the Diary Room, it was obvious the boys were pained by the decision, having spent just two weeks in the house. But for the duo, life is more precious than silver and gold.
Viewers were not left out in shedding tears for the once promising housemates, who brought so much humour and life into the house.
From the text messages that were scrolled that night, it was apparent that, in such a short time, Ola and Chris made noticeable impact.
While some wondered if Ola never had proper medical checks before entering for the show, others now bank their hope on the singer Goldie, the only remaining Nigerian representative in the Upville.
However, from the day Mnet announced its readiness to stage the Big Brother StarGame, many doubted if Nigeria still stood a chance of winning the continental competition, having won in the last three editions (Kelvin Pam in 2009, Uti Nwachukwu in 2010 and Kareen Igho in 2011).
To this school of thought, the news about the exit of the country’s representatives was never a disaster as such.
On Thursday, Ola and Chris met with the Nigerian press at Planet One, Maryland, Ikeja, Lagos, where they fielded questions from showbiz reporters.
Though conceived as a media briefing, the event turned into a sort of welcome party for the housemates, who, according to media people, made the country proud in their short stay.
Like what you saw during their days in the Big Brother house in far away South Africa, Chris and Ola were at their best — jovial and witty. You needed to see how they threw banter at each other in the middle of the briefing; you wouldn’t help but just laugh.
However, amid the drama and celebration, one question kept coming up, “were they not medically checked?”
Reacting to the question, the Public Relations Officer of MultiChoice Nigeria, Segun Fayose, informed that all the housemates underwent proper medical checks and were certified fit to contest.
“It is the tradition of the Big Brother to conduct proper medical checks on the housemates before the show; this is something we don’t joke with. We understand that the show last for three months, coupled with the fact that the housemates are confined in the house all through the duration. So, we do our best to ensure that anyone that gets into the house is in good shape. Ola’s case was different; his problem started while in the house,” he explained.
As Ola picked the microphone to make his statement, the room was silent; everyone wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth. By the time he was done with his explanations, all doubts were laid to rest.
“I had a bit of high blood pressure and cholesterol issues, too. They tried to stabilise it, but it kept going on the increase and we figured it would be better for me to get out before I pass out. So, it wasn’t great; it wasn’t a way to take out a Nigerian from the race. Based on medical advice, I decided to take voluntary exit,” he narrated.
To the Ogun State native, it was a case of settling for the best option. “When you look at the prize money ($300,000), it looks very attractive, but at the point when we had to take a decision, I began to think far.”
However, before making his decision public, Ola had consulted his partner, Chris. Though a difficult price to pay, having enjoyed his days in the Downville, Chris accepted his fate wholeheartedly.
“We miss the house. Each time we look at the TV, we feel like, ‘I wish we are still there.’ But we had to play according to the rule. If your partner leaves, you leave. It could have been me; so, when Ola told me about the situation, it didn’t take me time to take a stand.
“Right now, I’m out of the house; that’s why you are interviewing me. Now, I want people to really see what I can offer, aside from my fashion designing business,” he said.
On the particular people he missed most in the house, Chris stated thus: “Oh, I miss Zainab so much; she’s the only person that could crack us up. I miss Seydou, I miss Luke… Come on; it’s like a family in there. I really miss all of them.”
To Chris, life in the Big Brother house is not a bed of roses. “Sometimes, they don’t give us food because we failed a task; sometimes, you don’t get to drink. However, we are able to make a very strong impact in the house,” he said.
THE relationship between the two men started many years ago; from the very first day their paths crossed, a strong bond was developed.
“We met, and along the line, we discovered we had things in common; we are real people. We are not best friends, but we are too close, that’s how the friendship started,” Ola said.
Was that why you chose him as your pair in the reality show?
“Pairing is different; you can have a close friend, but he may not be funny and witty. So, I had to do a lot of mind search and said, ‘yes, Chris; he’s as crazy as I am.’ If I had to go back to the house again, I would go there with Chris over and over again,” Ola said.
THOUGH out of the competition, the experience is a big lesson for Ola.
“It’s all about exposure. We didn’t know what our impact was in the house; we only got to know when we left the house; I was impressed. If you look at the love from other African countries, you would understand what I mean; Africans love us.”
Somehow, Ola and Chris did well in balancing their lifestyle in the house. While other male contenders were busy toasting the ladies and smooching under the blanket, Naija boys had their eyes on the big prize.
“Look, you don’t take your eyes away from the prize; no matter what was happening in that house, we kept our eyes on the prize,” Ola revealed. “Because of the confinement, you tend to love somebody you don’t truly love. What we did was take our eyes away from all those stuff. I avoided the distractions; I just made friends generally because, if you date this person today, and date another one tomorrow, people would think that’s the way you are in the outside world.”
Meanwhile, if there’s any atom of truth in what Chris and Ola told newsmen during the briefing, then watch out for the guys in yet another reality TV show.
“We don’t want to waste out talent and the experience we gathered in the house. Right now, we are trying to see if we can come up with our own reality TV show; we are talking to Mnet on this,” Ola said.
“As you can see, we are both crazy people; we don’t want to throw that away. There are lots of things you need to understand about Africa, so, we are thinking of creating a platform that will help us, as Africans, to understand ourselves,” Chris offered.
Asked what he’s taking away from the show, Ola, an interior decorator said, “that I could impact in the lives of people from different parts of the continent. Within two week, I was able to touch people’s lives. Today, a lot of them want to come to Nigeria; they all love Nigeria because of how we related with them. It something I cherish so much.”
Fashion designer by training, Chris is single and has a degree in Human Kinetics. He entered Big Brother StarGame because he saw the House as a place to have fun – and he’s a fun-loving person. He hoped to bring his own style to the game and make a great impression. He describes himself as fun loving, blunt, and funny and likes to put things in order.
A Lagos resident and interior designer, Ola Bakare is an impressive 6’9” tall. His favourite thing about Africa is that the land has been blessed a great deal, while he also enjoys the people and culture. He was inspired to enter Big Brother StarGame with his friend, Christian, because he thinks he has what it takes to participate and also to learn about other cultures.
Ola describes himself as smart, funny, creative, fun loving and sweet and thinks he’s fun to be around and can hold a healthy conversation.