I WAS over the moon when I got a call from Mzansi to experience life as a housemate at the Big Brother house.
Upon arriving at the Joburg airport I met up with equally excited journos from East London, Cape Town and Durban.
At the Red Pepper offices we were informed of the rules. Firstly, all cellphones, electronic devices, watches, sunglasses, books (magazine, notepads and pens) were taken from us. We were also told there would be no privacy, including in the shower or loo, that there were 44 cameras, and we would be watched by 50 people. A lot of us vowed to only take a bath the next day in our hotel rooms.
In the afternoon we finally went to the Big Brother house, entering through a dark passage where three cameramen were at work.
Following the “double trouble” theme of Big Brother Mzansi this year, we were paired up. I was partnered with journalist Siyabonga Sangweni-Fynn.
There were mirrors everywhere in the house and, of course, cameras.
After 30 minutes of settling in, Big Brother’s voice broadcast: “This is Big Brother, press housemates you are welcome”, and started calling us to the diary room.
It was such a great feeling to be speaking to Biggie, as I referred to him for the rest of my stay in the house. We spoke about the house, our expectations and the taking away of our cellphones.
I felt like a real contestant. After our diary sessions we staged a press conference with our two celebrities, Zandile Lujabe and Fezokuhle Zulu from Ayeye , a drama on Mzansi Magic.
Our first activity for the day tested our coordination skills. I won and got to dance with the ninja who popped up out of nowhere. In the Big Brother house doors often open in unexpected places.
I was called to the diary room where Big Brother congratulated me with a bottle of bubbly.
We played two more challenges during our time in the house. As time went by we forgot about the cameras.
On our first night we had a braai and Biggie was generous enough to allow us music and alcohol.
The following morning we decided to brave the showers, cameras and all.
I don’t think I would last as a contestant in the Big Brother house. Being totally cut off from the world, not even knowing what time it is, would drive me crazy.
After leaving the Big Brother house I could still hear Biggie’s voice and it felt as though there were cameras in my hotel room. I can say though that it was an experience I shall cherish for ever.
Big Brother Mzansi will run for 56 days. The new season started with two launches on Sunday and Monday on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) with 24/7 live coverage on DStv channels 197 and 198
The prize money has gone up to R2-million, one of the richest prizes on offer on South African television.