As an adult, the idea of ‘after’ is something I find great joy in. You know, those vain things that give you hope like how big or successful you’d become after school, how better you’d become after listening to your favourite preacher, or even how happy you’d be after your favourite sports team wins a trophy.
‘After’ stories are good for a myriad of reasons. Really good. They keep me going. I’d be miffed if I’m sticking with a particular thing and the ‘after’ does not comfort me very much.
My earliest recollection of a group of people coming together to experience life and all the juice in its tank was growing up with cousins and neighbours in a dense, family-like community.
As kids who were practically unaware of what lay in wait for us as a unit several years after, as we ran around in our underwear and rolled car tyres. We would create crafty, pseudo trophies from tins of milk and cigarette packs for our little football tourneys. And when we are not watching our favourite shows on TV on Sunday afternoons, should NEPA be kind enough to light our homes, we would gather to comb the nearest farmlands and hunt for grasshoppers.
The idea of ‘after’ was lost on us with the innocence with which we appreciated the little things. The little things that weren’t much but were a lot. Soon, life unfolded, in ways we could barely control. The ‘after’ hit us like a hurricane with no warning, kicking us in directions untold. It is fascinating to see now how the children who ran around the neighbourhood in pants are all turning out, with each person writing the story of their life, one day at a time. The major takeaway is that we have come to appreciate life for what it is.
And even in adulthood, the concept of ‘after’ remains, serving as an everyday reality check.
This perspective about ‘the life of after’ is what leads me to a random musing on a boring Saturday afternoon – one which is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to a shutdown of football activities across the world – about the lives of some Big Brother Naija participants after their time in the house.
While mindlessly scrolling through my usually chaotic Twitter timeline this Saturday, I came across Ebuka Obi-Uchendu‘s tweet about his time in Washington DC with some Nigerian comedians in 2010.
“2010. Washington DC, with a few comedian fans…,” he writes as a caption for a throwback photo of boys – and a girl – who have become men – and a woman.
Ah, good ol’ life of after. I cracked a smile.
I can honestly say that the lives of the BBNaija participants (nearly a 100 of them) after leaving the house have been worth the drama of being locked in a house and away from the world for several weeks – in a cool, relatable way.
And not many of them, if any at all, would have been able to perfectly tell what their ‘after’ would be like as they exited the house.
As Mike Edwards, one of the housemates in the ‘Pepper Dem’ season succinctly put it in an Instagram post a few weeks after the show’s finale in 2019, “I’ve had some incredible opportunities present themselves already, and it’s exciting thinking about the plans. Taking a leap of faith into the unknown is daunting, but it’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Ebuka’s rise to becoming an important personality in pop culture is an interesting one. It is arguable that of all former Big Brother Naija housemates, he has had the most success since leaving the house during the first edition. But there’s been many more – more than enough, actually – success stories from the widely watched reality TV show. Bisola Aiyeola, Tobi Bakre, Gideon Okeke, Bamike (Bambam), Kemen, and others have all gone on to record relative successes in their respective careers since featuring on different editions of the money-spinning show.
Some housemates have started their own businesses, while others have become respectable thought leaders in their respective fields. Some housemates have found love, been engaged, and even got married. Some have even had babies.
Teddy A and Bambam, who both participated in the ‘Double Wahala’ edition of BB Naija in 2018, have written a story of a perfect life of after, inadvertently demonstrating one of the numerous benefits of MultiChoice’s goldmine. Even Michael Efe Ejeba, the winner of the ‘See Gobe’ edition in 2017, is rewriting his story by polishing his skills on the mic and banishing the ghost of mediocrity that has threatened to overshadow his ambition as a musician.
Bisola and Tobi are on a journey to becoming household names in the movie industry, while Uriel, CeeCee, Miyonse, Khloe, and others are running personal businesses that are fetching them good bucks.
The life of after – which has seen Khafi and Gedoni of the ‘Pepper Dem’ season swear to the heavens to do this journey called life together through the good and bad times, and Ike making sure his ‘gentleman-ess’ is enough to sweep the season four winner Mercy Eke off her feet on their running reality TV show, Mercy & Ike – is indeed beautiful to see.
These comforting ‘after’ stories are unsurprisingly why every ambitious young Nigerian dream to one day have a chance to feature in BB Naija, knowing fully well that the chance to succeed – and possibly find love – is given an ultimate boost.
MultiChoice‘s BBNaija has been held for four seasons and it is easy to see why it has become a huge fan favourite. But for me, beyond the camaraderie, the endearment towards the show is largely hinged upon the fact that I can continue to have an opportunity to see more ‘after’ stories – success, struggles and all.