A veritable TV reality show makes a debut in Cameroon after several years of failed attempts by those in the entertainment industry in the country.
From August 1st 2020, twenty five contestants drawn from six regions in Cameroon are in “Biggy 237” house in Douala. For eight weeks, the boys and girls are competing in diverse activities. The promoter of the project says the initiative aims at bringing out their hidden talents as young people with available experienced coaches to orientate them.
Biggy 237 reality TV show seems to have taken the public unawares.
There have been diverse reactions with some questioning the necessity of such a show they qualify as a breeding ground for immorality and temporally pleasurable activities in a context plague by unemployment, insecurity and general hardship with youth feeling the greater part of the pinch.
In an exclusive interview with Mimi Mefo Info Tuesday August 4th 2020 in Douala, the promoter of Biggy 237 TV reality Show talks to us on the basis of anonymity for “security reasons”.
Good day sir. Thanks for accepting to grant us this exclusive interview despite your busy schedule in Douala on the project Biggy 237.
It’s my pleasure to talk to Mimi Mefo Info. I appreciate your professionalism for coming to the source of information to get authentic news. This is contrary to many rumours I have read on the social media written by people who have not talked to me nor any member of the team.
We will talk about the reaction of the public to Biggy 237 later but first, how did the project Biggy 237 come about?
To begin,I love entertainment.This inner zeal pushed me to research more on how to add value in the entertainment industry in my country Cameroon by introducing something new. I have been following other reality TV shows around the world like “Big Brother Africa” and “Big Brother Nigeria” and I thought we Cameroonian youths can innovate and come out with something that will represent our rich cultural and linguistic diversity in a unique way. So I and my team have been working on this project for many years now. Thank God it has come to fruition this year 2020.
What is the difference between Biggy 237 and Big Brother Africa or Big brother Nigeria TV reality shows?
There are many differences.First Biggy 237 does its selection of house mates online contrary to Big Brother Nigeria where there is audition in a hall for selection. Secondly, Biggy 237 is talent driven not a gathering of children of rich parents selected based on other reasons. We focus on talent not financial and social status. Let me add that the name Biggy itself is symbolic.In our seconday schools in Cameroon junior students have seniors they affectionately call “Big”. These seniors give advice on academic and social success.That is exactly what we are doing. Biggy 237 coaches junior ones bringing out their talents.
What added value do you think Biggy 237 will have on the 25 contestants and the Cameroonain public as a whole?
The twenty five contestants like you mention have been in the Biggy 237 house since Saturday the 1st of August 2020. They will be there for eight weeks. Within this period, the contestants are involved in diverse activities that have as principal goal to bring out the hidden talents of each of these young people. At the end of the eight weeks, we will see young people that have discovered their skills in craft,music,communication,fashion and a lot more. This will enable the contestants chat a career for themselves.
What you just explained there are skills Cameroonian youth can learn anywhere while in their homes.So why spend millions of francs cfa keeping youths in a house just for this?
Let me explain first that the contestants passed through what I can call a rigorous selection process to be in the house. This already build a spirit of competition in them. Keeping them in Biggy 237 house reminds them that they are in a particular environment for a purpose of learning, bringing out the best in them and winning prizes to compensate for their hard work and commitment. We selected youths from diverse professional, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. For the eight weeks, besides learning what experts are teaching them,they will learn from each other in the process of accomplishing various tasks that are given to them by Biggy 237.
On how the public will benefit from this,the public will participate by following our Biggy 237 channel and all social media networks to vote for their contestants. There are companies standing by with prizes not only for the contestants but equally for members of the public that vote for the contestants. That is not all. Entertainment is all about making the public to feel good while watching the contestants carry out tasks in the house.
You just mentioned prizes promoter of Biggy 237. What will the overall winner of Biggy 237 take home?
This is an interesting question. The main aim of the project is not to make any contestant instantly rich but letting them discover their talents to create jobs for themselves while out there. That said,the winner will take home the prize of 10 million francs cfa worth. This means that the winner will be given 5 million francs cash and other material things worth five million francs cfa. There is equally a round trip to Dubai for the winner.
Huge sums of money couple with what you have already spent renting this compound to host the contestants, buying equipments, paying staff and other expenditures. Why don’t you use the money to invest perhaps in the agricultural sector that will employ many youths permanently?
Biggy 237 is not an event. It does not end after the period of contest. It is an entertainment company duly registered in the administration in Cameroon. This explains why we even got an authorization to operate. I have 37 permanent staff working with me for years on this project. When we have events like the one we are having now, we employ other temporal staff. This means we are creating jobs and helping to alleviate poverty in Cameroon. We must not invest in agriculture or other things for people to accept what we are doing. The Cameroonian public is eager to see the entertainment industry gain prominence too just like other sectors.We have to start from somewhere despite the challenges.
You just mentioned challenges. What are some of these challenges you facing in the pioneer edition of Biggy 237 project?
There are many challenges but the major one is that of sponsorship. This is the first edition of biggy 237. Companies cannot just trust us to pump in their money. Though few have really supported us,most of the funds are from me. It’s a heavy burden but I think it is worth it.
Another issue is that of acceptance. Being a new concept in Cameroon, some have not border to understand what it’s all about. Instead,a minority criticize and call us names.I pray they will understand us soon and join us in the project. Biggy 237 is designed in a way that each Cameroonain can contribute to its success and equally benefit from it.
Infrastructure too is a major challenge. There are no buildings in Cameroon that really meet the standard and demands of reality entertainment shows as this. You will accept with me that the space we are using now is not big enough but I think business men and women will see reasons to put up such structures now that we have started.
How many regions are represented in Biggy 237 house?
We have contestants from six regions in Cameroon. The Centre, North West, North, Littoral, West and South West. Biggy 237 will be an annual event. Next year we will cover the ten regions and in 2022,tl the project will cover the Central Africa sub region. This means we will have contestants from Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Cameroon.
A contestant according to criteria set by your team should be between 21 and 45 years. How do you control immorality and indecency in a house hosting boys and girls from different backgrounds?
We have a booklet containing all the dos and don’ts while in Biggy 237 house. Immorality is one of the things that should not happen. The contestants can create acquaintance but any intimate relationship duly examined to be true by the disciplinary committee earns the defaulters outright dismissal from the house. That is not all. Other things include fighting, use of hate speech and other wrong behavior are forbidden.
You originate from Ndop in Ngokentunjia division in the North West. At the moment, young people are fighting in bushes. They see no reason to lay their arms and regain normal life. What role can Biggy 237 play to convince these youths?
Employment in Cameroon is a major problem. It can cause young people to do the unimaginable. Biggy 237 is to bring out hidden talents that should be used to create jobs and live a better life. I don’t want to delve into details of the political issues but I think what biggy 237 is doing today will help many youths find their feet in a competitive world of unemployment. Let me use your platform to debunk allegations that the show is sponsored by top members of government.
Biggy 237 is taking place in a particular health context of coronavirus. What measures have you taken?
This is a terrifying virus. The contestants self quarantined before coming to the hosue. They underwent COVID 19 tests twice before coming together. While here, we pay particular attention to COVID 19 measures as we can. We pray nothing as such happens.
What is your take home message to the public?
Cameroonians home and abroad and other nationals should continue encouraging us as they have been doing. This is a project that demands the effort of everyone. Instead of criticizing from a distance, come with your proposals on how to make it better. It will be examined and if it falls in context to the vision then it will be adopted. We Cameroonians need to do something to exploit our potential in the entertainment industry.
I can’t thank Mimi Mefo Info team enough for taking interest in what we are doing. I deeply appreciate.
Thanks and goodluck.
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