YEARS LATER: Every once in a while, an event, a phenomenon happens that goes a long way to unify Ugandans. One of these phenomena was the reality show Big Brother Africa. Ugandans were charmed and fell under the spell of our representative; a little known happy go lucky fellow with a Ugandan fondness for booze and babes. His name was Gaetano Juuko Kaggwa. Gae as he is fondly known became a national hero. On the day of his eviction, the nation mourned collectively and he received a hero’s welcome complete with a presidential courtesy call accompanied by his then girlfriend Abby Plaatjes. Although Uganda continued to send representatives to the reality show, no one ever managed to evoke the kind of hysteria or benefit as much from Big Brother as Gae did.
Some of the former housemates have gone on to experience the fame they craved, some have tried and failed to keep up with the celebrity world and others simply went back to living entirely ordinary lives. So here’s what our housemates have been upto since their stint in the Big Brother house. Carolyne B. Atangaza writes.
The witty, brooding Mugisha was the third Ugandan representative in the Big Brother house and finished in 6th place. Prior to the reality show, Mugisha was a part time model, actor and photographer with Shutterspeed studio. According to Mugisha, the stint altered next to nothing about his life. “After the mandated Big Brother appearances had died down, I picked up where I had left off. I do not think the reality show gave me any edge at all. All the commercials I shot and appeared in were local,” Mugisha says. He currently runs his own advertising agency which holds accounts such as Radiant cosmetics, Riham cola among others. He says he is also developing a teleplay.
Okure finished in 20th place and is remembered for his indecisiveness between Tanzanian housemate Liz and former South African housemate Liziwe Coka with whom he eventually had a baby girl. After the stint in the house, Okure returned to South Africa with hopes of securing a job but failed to get one. The last time Okure was in the media, he made an appearance on singer GNL Zamba’s Nyo Nyo song. He owns a logistics firm and keeps a low profile.
He was Uganda’s fourth and only double Big Brother housemate. Having been disqualified on day 61 of Big Brother Revolution for physically assaulting South Africa housemate Lerato Sengadi, Kuteesa made a comeback in the Big Brother Star game. After the eviction, the Information Technology graduate came back to Kampala and opened up a games shop called Single Games shop. Having opened up his company Zues Media Consortium, Kuteesa tried his hand at TV production where he developed a celebrity reality show but when that failed, he switched lanes and hit gold as a chicken farmer.
After the Big Brother stint, Lutaaya tried a hand at being a socialite but came out empty. Determined to make a living, she went to Omani for a kyeyo but could not stand the harsh working conditions so she came back to Uganda. Eventually she connected with one of the Ugandans in the US and is now in Chicago on Kyeyo.
Kushaba was Uganda’s representative for season 7 the Star game and he came fifth on the final day of the show. A journalist at the time of joining the game, Kushaba was one of the most popular housemates in season 7, only receiving 5 nominations from his fellow housemates in the 12-week period he spent in the house. Kyle was put up for eviction in week 10 but Africa overwhelmingly voted to save. He is also one of the most hardworking Big Brother contestants who returned to start a clothing line. He has since written for newspapers, presented on TV and ultimately transitioned into a TV producer. Currently he works at an IT firm called Infosys as head of marketing and PR. “As much as I am still in the entertainment industry, I needed something regular to fit my new status as a husband-to-be,” Kushaba said, alluding to his impending nuptials due next month.
Isaac Lugudde : (LK4) He became a major player on the social scene after Big Brother when he hooked up with socialite Zari Hassan. His exploits with several other socialites won him inches of column space in local gossip pages. He continued pursuing his basketball career playing in the Friday Night Lights series. The muscled player finally got recruited by a South African basketball club where he played for one season and was benched. Rather than return to Kampala, Luggude chose to stay in South Africa where he currently does multiple odd jobs for a living.
Maureen Namatovu Garrett
She is remembered for using the statement blah-blah-blah as her catchphrase. Although less popular than Gae, Namatovu’s hook up with Code, the Malawian housemate in the penthouse garnered her enough support to finish in 4th place. Before going to the house, Namatovu was pursuing a career in the fashion industry as a designer. On her return however, she changed track and chose to become a housewife. Now a marriage counsellor, Namatovu reveals in her own words: “I was never interested in presenting shows on TV or radio like the other former BBA contestants. I got what I have always wanted; a rich husband who loves me to death and now a beautiful family. I have never been happier.”
Salmon Nalukenge (Sharon O)
She was Uganda’s representative in season 6 and finished in 5th place. Although she was deemed as too reserved, her banging body and gorgeous face made her a serious contender for the $200,000 prize money. After the BBA house, the former Obsessions singer reunited with her on and off partner Ronnie Mulindwa. The couple opened up a bar in Namugongo called Blue Ice where the Obsessions put up shows on weekends. She is currently raising a family.
Mwiyeretsi was the first housemate to be evicted from the Big Brother Africa Hotshots. He returned and continued his career in the media industry, writing newspaper articles and presenting TV and radio shows.
Formerly Uganda’s beauty queen, Nantumbwe left the house without being nominated by any of her housemates. Although her relationship with Tanzanian housemate and ultimate winner Idris ended with the eviction, Nantumbwe still describes her experience in the house as life changing. “I wouldn’t take it back for anything. It’s up there in the highlights of my life,” she says. She has been busy building her career as a model, singer, actress, MC and pageant coach. She currently plays the role of the sophisticated, bitchy Isabel Arroyo in the NTV series Second Chance.
Uganda’s Big Brother Hotshots representative Akankwasa returned home after two weeks in the house. Shortly after her return from, the former Jose Chameleone queen dancer’s marriage to German husband Nico Damminger ended, thereby drying her cash taps.