Meeting O’Neal Zibanani Madumo live and direct rendered me a stone’s throw away from screaming insanely for an autograph, the whole star struck groupie experience. This larger than life character arrived home from his 70-day stint in the Big Brother Africa house leaving a legacy and probably foot prints that will be almost impossible to follow by future housemates.
He was undoubtedly the Housemate the rest of the Africa loved to hate and when he was finally handed to them on a silver platter, there was no escaping eviction.
A proud ‘Product of the Botswana public school system,’ O’Neal explained that he had not gone there to represent Botswana per se but rather himself as a brand born and bred in Botswana and that while many housemates took pride in flashing their national flags he held on the ‘Botswana Brand’ flag.
O’Neal went on to describe the ‘Chase’, which was this year’s theme, as something subject to interpretation.
“It was like trying to shoot a moving target.”
Being in the game was surreal in O’Neal’s experience; he further stated that though each one of the housemates enters the house with the sole intention to chase the prize money, once they are in the house it becomes more of a survival game with reality only kicking in during the eviction show.
Though it was a fun and interesting experience, O’Neal emphasized that it had a few shortfalls, being that it was psychologically taxing and that it had scarred him for life and he would never go through it again.
O’Neal says he had contemplated leaving the Big Brother Africa Show just days after entering the House. He says he was even treated for high blood pressure because of frustrations.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Standard, O’Neal describes the treatment he received from Big Brother as different to that of the rest of the Housemates.
“It felt like the majority of the time I received different treatment to that of everybody else, especially during diary sessions where mine would be longer and the kind of questions I would get were different to those of other housemates.”
He says at times it felt like he was not wanted. He rubbishes some people’s accusations that he was a control freak and possessive of his girlfriend Feza. He also feels Big Brother was being somehow protective of Feza and made him feel like he had changed her, something which he says led to some form of depression.
O’Neal insists spending so much time with Feza was not so much his “possessiveness” as Feza’s willingness to always be in his company.
“I wanted to be away from her but she relied so much on me; she cared for me; she loved me and appeared as though she could not live without me,” he says.
O’Neal adds that he feels vindicated because now that he is out of the house, Feza still makes comments to the effect that she misses having him around and he hopes the viewers now realise that it was not about him oppressing her but rather about her willing to be with him. He admits he still loves Feza and after all is said and done, hopes they can spend their lives together.
Despite feeling he was treated unfairly by big brother, O’Neal blames himself for being evicted from the House.
“I am angry with myself for reacting to what I was seeing happening in the House. I should have tried to not show my emotions in relation to what I felt was not right because it led to viewers deciding to get rid of me,” he says.
O’Neal had a fall out with West Africans after voicing his frustrations about their “domination” in the show. He says it has led to him receiving hate mail and death threats.
Although he insists he has no regrets about entering the show, he says that he would never do it again even if the opportunity arises.