People called Shakur (his father was a huge TuPac fan) crazy when he told them his future ambition was to win a reality show. But he was not joking. It was a goal and like any other goal, he had to prepare for it.
When it was time to pick a class in senior secondary school, Shakur went to the Arts class. He studied hard, graduated as best student in his set. Everybody said he would be a great law student, but he applied for and got admitted into the department of performing arts. His parents were disappointed, so were his teachers. They believed he was throwing away great potential but he was not, he had a plan.
Four years later, he graduated as best student in performing arts. Once again his parents and teachers were on his side, they could sense his determination to succeed. Maybe performing arts wasn’t a bad idea, they said. His parents gathered money and sent him to the New York film Academy. He put a lot of effort in at the school, learnt some filmmaking but spent majority of his time learning how to act. Even his American teachers saw something in Shakur.
One year later, he was back in Nigeria and he applied for the Big Brother Nigeria contest. He was nervous as he waited to know if he would make the auditions. But he waited and waited until the show started. He did not even hear back from the organizers. He was crushed. He’d waited and worked all his life for this opportunity.
But he’d learnt something very important that was going to help him. If others did not give you the opportunity you deserved, create the opportunity yourself. People might call you crazy or think you don’t know what you’re doing but eventually success wins everybody over.
So he made a plan, if Big Brother would not take him, he would start his own show.
It was stupid.
He was a copycat.
Nobody will watch it.
People he pitched the story to told him every reason it wouldn’t work. They called him names. They even said Big Brother would sue. But he was not fazed.
He’d made connections while he was at the New York Film academy and they were willing to listen to him. The only question they all asked was; how is this different from Big Brother Nigeria?
“It is very different.” He told them. “Big Brother is a show where contestants go against each other. In my show, the contestants go against the world.”
“How does that happen?”
“We take ten contestants, take them to a town where they don’t speak the language and drop them there. We don’t contact them, at least not to their knowledge except when they are evicted. We cover everything they do; their interactions with the locals, each other but they are completely on their own.”
Most people laughed off the idea, called it expensive and stupid but all he needed was one person who could sponsor it. He found the person. He had only one condition for allowing anybody use this idea; he had to be one of the ten contestants. All he wanted was to show the world who he was and what he could do. The sponsor agreed, why not? The sponsor had a condition too, nobody could know the show was his. He would know nothing of what went on behind the scenes, not even the town they were going to. That was no problem, he agreed to it.
It took a year to make it work but finally his show was starting.
On a cold night in January, Shakur and nine other Nigerians were dropped in Tykocin in Poland. A small town of 2,000 people. They were given houses, food supplies, clothes, a map and an audio dictionary.
Shakur was excited. This was it. All his dreams were about to be achieved. He had prepared all his life for this show and he was going to win it.
His parents, his teachers, everyone who doubted or supported him in the past were rooting for him this time. They could all see this is where every other thing he had done led to. They did not know he created the show but they all told him he would own the show. His friends had even created a special fund to finance voting for him.
He looked in the mirror before he went to sleep that night.
“This is your show Shak and you are going to win it.”
While Shakur motivated himself before bed, his less serious opponents spent their first night drinking and toasting to the mayhem they were about to unleash on Tykocin.
The first eviction took place the morning after the contestants’ arrival in Poland. Shakur was evicted.