JOHANNESBURG — As “Big Brother” contestants in the U.K. and South Africa swap houses, the lone white contestant in paycaster M-Net’s pan-African version of “Big Brother” has sparked public debate about who can call themselves African.
“Big Brother Africa,” which kicked off on May 25, has 12 housemates from different countries, including Namibia’s Stephan Ludik.
Many Namibians are outraged that a white person whose ancestors came from Europe is representing them. The country is a former German colony that fell under the control of South Africa until it gained independence in 1990.
“It is an embarrassment,” said one respondent to a newspaper survey. “Not even South Africa is represented by a white person. No white person can represent Africa.”
However, other respondents praised his presence as proving how “multicultural” the country is.
Jean Sutherland, editor of the Namibian newspaper, said it was one of the biggest controversies to hit the country’s press in years. “It’s become quite a buzz. The letters pages are being inundated, and it’s a hot topic on radio.”
Ludik is one of the favorites to win the $100,000 prize. He has already survived the first eviction on Sunday night, and he remains second on the viewers popularity poll on the “Big Brother Africa” Web site.
Ludik is, however, no longer the only white person in the house. In the first intercontinental “Big Brother” interaction, Cameron Stout from the U.K. swapped with Gaetano Kagwa of Uganda on Sunday for five days.
“Big Brother’s” U.K. producers hope the stunt will liven up their show, which viewers have labeled “a bore.”