Zimbabwe: Will a Big Brother Winner Unite a Divided Country?

The Big Brother Africa (BBA) reality marathon is now over. However, there has been a deluge of mixed views online about which of the two Zimbabwean contestants deserved to win. And because the Zimbabwean chap who took home a cool US$200,000 “happens” to be white, this “inevitably” also became a talking point on social media platforms.

Big Brother Africa is a television show produced by Endemol in South Africa. The show is the most popular TV reality show in Africa.

The winner, Wendall Parson, was feted in the country’s highest offices after his nationality – and patriotism – was allegedly questioned at the start of the show by state media because of his race. And for some, this has exposed how Zimbabwe remains a country polarised along racial lines, especially against the background of the terribly divisive politics where the president continues his war against former imperial power Britain and has not made it a secret after the expropriation of white farmland that there is still an arcane agenda to return the country to white rule.

Zimbabwean housemate Wendall Parson. Photo source: Bigh Brother Africa website.

Zimbabwean housemate Wendall Parson. Photo source: Bigh Brother Africa website.

At kubatane.net, Leonard Kamwendo writes:

After being chosen to represent Zimbabwe on Big Brother Africa Wendall Parson did not enjoy a fair share of media publicity like his fellow housemate Vimbai Mutinhiri. Barely 2 months ago The Sunday Mail published an article entitled “Who is Wendall?” Instead of supporting our Zimbabwean representative the paper went on to publish a racially charged article questioning Wendall’s citizenship. Despite the racist reporting, the people of Zimbabwe went on to prove that our country is made up of people of different backgrounds. Since Wendall is white the Sunday Mail reporter just assumed he is foreign only to be proved wrong with positive response and support Wendall got from fellow Zimbabweans.

This in a country where the president is already known for his strong views about whites; critics say The Sunday Mail newspaper reflects the views of the president and his Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front.

But perhaps to show that Wendall’s supporters were not concerned about race, the kudos from Facebook users came in a flurry.

Georgina Nyangani congratulates Wendall:

yu did a gud job wendall by uzn a wise strategy to bcome a winnnnnneeeerrrrr,yu rock man kp up the gud wrk.

There however seemed to be division among supporters based on what many see as racial loyalties as shown by Heleen Vermaak's comments:


Another miffed post from Lee Jody that raises concerns about the use of what could be construed as inflammatory language:

now we can see that is racism …zimbabwe will never ever be rich like sa..i wish mugabe could rule untill 3010…we goin to start xenophobia watch out zimbos

Despite this, other Facebook users just savoured the win for the country.

Esme Dimba writes:

Big up 2 winky d [Winky D is a popular Zimbabwean musician] he wrote a song abt wendall guys u shld check it out. Its hot kuti zimba ndokuti big brother amplified! [It’s hot Zimbabwe is THE Big Brother Amplified] wowzer wendallified 4reva!!

And of course there are wise guys who want a piece of the action like Marvin Ace Ncube who wrote in good banter:

Found out we related!!Wendall will need a lil bit of dollars*SWAGG renovation!!

It seems that it is this jollity that binds Zimbabweans on social media platforms after 91 days of BBA days despite inevitable differences of opinion about who should have won.

Lynett Mberi
has this message for those who are not happy with Wendall's victory:

Haters go to hell.Wendall well done you deserve the money.

And indeed Wendall Parson got another “windfall” from President Mugabe who honoured him for his somewhat unexpected victory. For many, it was kind of curious to see the president handing over US$50 000 to a white Zimbabwean considering his anti-white stance!

Virginia Katsadzura obviously sees Wendall Parson as Mr. Money Bags because of his BBA windfall:

Wow man! Thts fabulous! Enjoy ur money wendollarman.

Zimbabwe's housemate Munya lost to Nigeria's Uti last year. Zimbabweans claimed that there was rigging in favour of the Nigerian finalist. A Zimbabwean businessman decided to set up a consolation fund for Munya. Through the consolation fund, Munya ended up receiving a cheque of US$300,000 which was presented to him by President Mugabe.


  • […] Global Voice: Zimbabwe Will a Big Brother Winner Unite a Divided Country  […]

  • Tony Blair

    And what was odd about President Mugabe giving money to a white? He did the same to Kirsty Coventry when she won Olympic Gold. He has often hosted the Black brothers (tennis), and is the patron of Cricket Zimbabwe (which surprise surprise is dominated by whites!). Go get a life!

  • […] premesse storiche, è quindi facile capire perché, pochi giorni dopo la conclusione dello show, un articolo di Global Voices si chiedesse “Riuscirà un vincitore del Grande Fratello a riunire un paese diviso?”. […]

  • […] winner of Big Brother Africa in 2010 was Zimbabwe's Wendall Parson whose nationality and patriotism was initially questioned by state media because of his race. He is […]

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