Kenya’s star representative to the Big Brother Africa reality TV show is Jackson Makini, better known as Prezzo. Mr. Makini launched himself into the public consciousness by flying in a chopper over the Wilson airport fence into the adjacent Carnivore grounds to dazzle the girls at a teen music award ceremony almost a decade ago.
That stunt obviously reflected well on his celebrity credentials and earned him a coveted spot in the Big Brother house located in South Africa. The show concept is simple. The contestants are confined to house, placed under 24 hour camera surveillance seven days a week watched by millions of viewers in 14 African countries. Controversy and manipulation is the end game and a contestant that has sex on set is assured of a lucrative post show career.
Closer home Tusker Project Fame is underway bringing together contestants from 6 East African countries in a pop idol competition. Similarly, the contestants are confined to a house, voluntarily sign off their privacy to be subjected to public scrutiny in a singing competition that guarantees instant stardom.
The media hype that tracks the contestants of these shows is partly responsible for turning our youth into prisoners of envy and consumerism. The popular shows are an assembly plant for narcissists; inspired by the Greek myth about a beautiful youth who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water and turned into a flower. Invariably kids remain mesmerized by their reflection on TV and start to think simple living is impoverishment and celebrity is synonymous with happiness. The obsession with the private lives of other people compensates for the lack of meaning in daily lives. The manipulated sense of lack creates an addiction to instant happiness as advertised by one’s favourite multinational brand.
The narcissists will leave no legacy behind.