28 housemates, 91 days and USD300 000 – Big Brother Africa is back! The eighth season of the continent’s biggest reality show blasted off on Sunday night (26 May at 19:00 on DStv Channel 197 & 198) with one thing in mind – The Chase!

Produced by Endemol SA and headline sponsored by Airtel, Sunday night’s blazing live show saw 28 housemates from 14 countries pair up to share two houses. But the heat is on as they’ll have their first nomination sessions less than 24 hours after meeting each other for the first time. Two housemates WILL leave the show next Sunday!

Airtel Africa Chief Marketing Officer, Andre Beyers commented: “Airtel is proud to be associated with Big Brother – Season 8. We identify with the diverse audiences watching this remarkable programme in over 50 African countries and the unique opportunity to create awareness of some of our ground breaking services to the audience. The reality show is also a perfect match with Airtel’s goal of not only offering entertainment but also connecting millions of people through music.”

The show kicked off with South African supergroup Mafikizolo performing ‘Khona’, backed by magnificent dancers from the Mzansi Ballet Theatre.  Presenter IK rolled up in style on a motorcycle and promised viewers an exciting three months of television, which will see the housemates playing the game with their eyes firmly on the USD300 000 prize.

After a touching tribute to Nigerian star Goldie, who passed away earlier this year, comedians Tumi Morake (South Africa) and Churchill (Kenya) got the chance to explore the two houses which will host the housemates this year – called Diamond and Ruby. Two houses, of course, mean two 24/7 channels, with viewers able to follow the action in either house via DStv Channel 197 or 198.

Boity Thulo was on hand to show viewers how they can interact with Big Brother: The Chase this year. Last year, Big Brother StarGame captivated the market with 2.3 million website visitors, 140 million page views, over 1 million Facebook likes and 2.3 million TV messages. This year, is tailored to whichever device you view it on, to deliver the best possible user experience. Signing up as a VIP Member will deliver a host of exclusive content that you won’t want to miss out on. Viewers will also be able to use the website or their mobile devices to vote to keep their favourite housemate in The Chase.

It was time to meet the housemates, with IK explaining that the ladies would be given the choice of their male counterparts. After being called on stage, they would select a male housemate to join them in the house, based on a picture of their smile, alone. Each of the men would be wearing an element with a particular colour to denote which house the duo would then head into – red for Ruby or yellow for Diamond.

Zimbabwe’s Pokello was the first housemate to be introduced to Africa. Asked to select a pic from IK’s tablet, she chose LK4 from Uganda. Ghana’s Selly was up next and selected a pic of Bassey from Sierra Leone. Dellish (Namibia) was the third lady to take the stage, selecting South Africa’s Angelo, based on the image of his smile on IK’s tablet. Malawi’s Fatima was up next, selecting Tanzania’s Nando to join her.

Kenyan Huddah’s photo selection drew Ethiopia’s Bimp to the stage, before Motamma from Botswana chose Angola’s Neyll. Beverly (Nigeria) picked Sulu from Zambia, followed by Zambia’s Cleo who chose Botswana’s Oneal. Namibian Maria was the next housemate to join IK on stage, joined shortly afterwards by Nigeria’s Melvin. IK introduced Natasha from Malawi next, with Angola’s Biguesas, her choice.

Tanzanian Feza was the next housemate to join IK on stage, choosing Ghana’s Elikem to join her. Betty from Ethiopia followed, with Bolt from Sierra Leone joining her shortly after. Annabel from Kenya was next up, with her photo selection giving IK the chance to introduce Uganda’s Denzel to the continent. South Africa’s Koketso was the final housemate IK summoned to the stage to make her choice, bringing Zimbabwe’s Hakeem up to join her.

IK then revealed a few changes to the game this year, with the news that Big Brother was on the hunt for housemates who would be making romantic gestures, with a special prize up for grabs for the housemate who brought the most romance into the house. The Head of House also gains new powers. Along with the ability to ‘save & replace’ nominees, the HoH will also have the power to switch housemates between houses each Friday during the Airtel Showdown arena games. There’s also a new ‘3 Strike Rule’ for housemates. Those who commit serious infringements of rules which don’t lead to immediate disqualification, will pick up ‘strikes’. Three strikes will see them disqualified from the game, and leaving the house.

South African comedian Tumi Morake will also be hosting a special show on AfricaMagic after each Sunday’s show called Big Brother Hot Room, starting 2 June at 21:00. She’ll put a satirical spin on the week that was, take comic pot shots at the most talked-about events of the week and re-enact parody scenes with housemates.

Kenyan singer, songwriter and rapper STL delivered an unforgettable performance of ‘Stella Stella Stella’ in her distinctive style during the show, which was closed out by performances from D’Prince, who dazzled the continent with ‘Goody Bag’ and Don Jazzy & Wande Coal, who took the roof off the studio with ‘The Kick’.

Commenting on the launch The Chase, M-Net Africa MD Biola Alabi says, “AfricaMagic is excited that Africa’s biggest reality show is now underway. Audiences can expect the addition of interesting and engaging new elements to the show. Big Brother has displayed remarkable growth over the years and we hope that this year will be no different. The launch of Hot Room will certainly bring fun, laughter and witty commentary in an amusing and comical way. Shock, drama, emotions and surprises have always been synonymous with the show but audience must keep watching because anything is possible over the next 91 days. There will also be great prizes up for grabs weekly so keep watching the show and AfricaMagic channels for details!”

As the housemates congregated in their respective lounges to get their first message from IK, Boity reminded viewers of the ways to stay up to date with Big Brother Africa: The Chase. Viewers can press ‘OK’ on DStv Channels 197 or 198 to read up on the latest news, send messages to TV by tweeting and using #bigbroafrica or #bbathechase, using Facebook to log into the ‘message to TV’ application on their computer or phone or send a text message via the shortcode for their country.

The winner of Big Brother: The Chase will be named after 91 days of head-to-head competition – and the power to award to USD 300 000 prize rests completely in the hands of the viewers.

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