Big Brother Africa Season 1 (2003)

Big Brother Africa Season 1 is the very first edition of reality TV series Big Brother Africa produced by Endemol for M-Net in 2003.

Big Brother Africa Season 1 logo
Big Brother Africa Season 1 logo.
Host:Mark Pilgrim
Number of housemates:12
Number of days:106
Prize money:$100,000
Number of countries:12
Winner:Cherise Makubale
Runner-up:Mwisho Mwampamba
Start date:Sunday 25 May 2003
End date:Sunday 7 September 2003


The Big Brother Africa season 1 housemates were revealed on Sunday 25 May 2003 at the launch show.

Big Brother Africa Season 1 Housemates Group Photo
Big Brother Africa Season 1 Housemates’ Group Photo.
HousemateAgeOccupationCountryDay ExitedStatus
Cherise24 Procurement officer Zambia106Winner
Tapuwa26Public relations officerZimbabwe1063rd Place
Warona25Video EditorBotswana1064th Place
Gaetano30StudentUganda1065th Place
Stefan22Forensic psycho-physiologistNamibia98Evicted
Abby25Fraud consultantSouth Africa84Evicted
Sammi28Radio presenterGhana70Evicted
Zein27Marketing managerMalawi42Evicted
Bruna25Singer, modelAngola28Evicted

Main Article: Big Brother Africa Season 1 Housemates


Nominations took place in weeks; 6, 8, 10, 12, 13 and 14.

Main Article: Big Brother Africa Season 1 Nominations

Swap With Big Brother UK

Big Brother Africa contestant Gaetano Jjuko Kagwa swapped places with Big Brother UK contestant Cameron Stout, 32, from Orkney.

Cameron’s challenge was to deliver a message in an envelope to the Big Brother Africa house in Randburg, South Africa. When he entered the Big Brother UK diary room and accepted the challenge, he had no idea where he would be going. On being told the destination, the fish trader from the Orkney Islands said: “Woo, Africa . Wowee. That’s phenomenal. I can’t believe it.”

Stout was granted a two-week amnesty from nominations, although he himself was still able to make nominations. Cameron was not allowed to tell his fellow housemates about the trip before he was whisked away, he left the UK by plane in secret on the morning of Sunday 22 June 2003.

Cameron Stout joins Big Brother Africa season 1
Cameron Stout was taken out of the house and onto a plane.

Gaetano on the other hand was chosen to join Big Brother UK after winning a cocktail-making challenge, he arrived in the UK on Monday 23 June 2003 in the morning. Kagwa caused upset in the Big Brother UK house when he called contestant Tania “a piggy”, causing her to walk off in tears and threaten to leave the UK house for good.

Gaetano Kagwa in the Big Brother UK house
Gaetano Kagwa in the Big Brother UK house.

Grand Finale and Winner

The Grand finale took place on Sunday 7 September 2003 where Zambia’s Cherise Makubale was crowned the winner of Big Brother Africa season 1, she received 6 country votes from the possible 13, leaving her fellow finalists to share the remaining 7.

Cherise Makubale Big Brother Africa season 1 winner
Cherise Makubale – Big Brother Africa season 1 winner.
Cherise Makubale Big Brother Africa season 1 winner
Cherise Makubale lifts up the briefcase containing her $100,000 cash prize.

Tanzania’s Mwisho Mwampamba was the runner-up, Zimbabwe’s Tapuwa Mhere was in third place, Botswana’s Warona Masego in fourth place and Uganda’s Gaetano Kagwa in fifth place.


The season was shown in America on the Africa Channel. It aired from November 2008 to March 2009. It is the first non-American Big Brother shown in America.

It was the only Big Brother from the African series to use its specific eye logo design with the series using a completely different design from season 2 on-wards.



At the beginning of July 2003, the Zambian clergy slammed Big Brother Africa demanding that it should be taken off air.

“Immoral, indecent and dishonest – that is how you will end up,” the churches warned people who were watching the show.

Zambia’s Bishop Joshua Banda from the Assembly of God church in Lusaka’s Northmead district launched what he called a “moral alert” and urged Zambians to sign a petition demanding that the minister of information and broadcasting stops the nightly visits to the house made by state-owned television, ZNBC.

The Bread of Life and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia were also among the churches that agreed with Bishop Banda’s complaints that the programme is a mockery of African culture. They said the housemates’ antics – especially during “shower hour” – were eroding Zambia’s moral fibre and undermining efforts to change sexual behaviour as a way of combating the spread of HIV and Aids.

The bishops’ anger sparked arguments in bars, among passengers in commuter minibuses, even among church congregations, with majority of the people agreeing that scenes of nudity and housemates’ canoodling were disgusting and morally corrupting.

But Big Brother Africa fans – and there were plenty of those as well – told the bishops to mind their business and switch channels if they didn’t want to watch but leave others with the freedom to choose.


In Namibia, President Sam Nujoma made calls to the state-owned Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to take Big Brother Africa off the air.

Mr Nujoma urged the NBC to concentrate more on educational programmes and documentaries, rather than showing the activities of housemates from across Africa.

“I would like to call on the NBC to stop showing this so-called Big Brother Africa and to start showing the history of Namibia,” Mr Nujoma said.

However, Gerry Munyama, the NBC’s director-general told journalists, that he thought the president’s words were being taken out of context, and that the remarks were an expression rather than an order to take Big Brother Africa off the air.

On Tuesday 29 July 2003, Namibia’s Information Minister Nangolo Mbumba met NBC’s top management and pointed out that the decision to act on the presidential request to remove Big Brother Africa was in the hands of the broadcaster.

Meanwhile the Namibian media suggested that President Nujoma’s action might have been prompted by the fact that the Namibian housemate, Stefan Ludik, was white and some felt that he should not have been Namibia’s representative in the pan-African contest.

Despite the president’s call, Namibians continued to watch the show and in Windhoek’s cafe Funky Lab, Stefan’s supporters met regularly to watch the show and the crowd of young professionals, students and scholars was large especially when nominations or evictions were about to take place.

And even if the show was to be taken off air on NBC, viewers still had the choice of watching it on DSTV if they could afford paying the monthly subscription. Namibian newspapers also gave a daily update or comment on what was happening in the Big Brother Africa house.


In Malawi, Big Brother Africa was banned and taken off the air at the beginning of August 2003 after the country’s parliament condemned it as “immoral”.

At the time, majority of Malawi’s 10.6 million people were deeply conservative Christians, with a Muslim minority.

The parliament voted to ban the show from its public TV station because of concerns about its alleged sexual content. Taylor Nothale, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the media, said he had received a number of complaints, particularly from parents.

He said most Malawians felt the show would encourage young people to engage in immoral behaviour. “People are subjected to horrible pictures which are corrupting the morals of our children,” Mr Nothale stated.

Opposition leader Gwanda Chakuamba said: “We want the government to stop that nonsense on TV.”

Malawi became the third African country to condemn the series following concerns raised by religious and political leaders in Zambia and Namibia. They all complained that some of the footage broadcast was too explicit.

However, rich Malawians were still able to watch the show on satellite television (DSTV).

On Friday 15 August 2003, Malawi’s High Court overturned the ban on Big Brother Africa saying that parliament – which voted for the ban because of concerns about sexual content – went beyond its powers. “The constitutional duty of parliament is to pass laws, not to make orders,” said lawyer Noel Chalamanda.

The Malawian High Court affirmed that only professionals at Television Malawi had the right to judge what should go on or off air.


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