26 June, 2006

Big Brother Nigeria 2006 Winner Katung Aduwak Comes To Johannesburg

As you’re no doubt aware, all 14 of the Housemates made their way to South Africa this past weekend (23-25 June) for their first official visit outside of Nigeria. The BigBrotherNaija.net team was there to record the experience. The Housemates schedule was frantic, but lucky us, we got to push in to Katung’s hotel room to grab a one-on-one chat with the Big Brother Naija winner later on Friday evening, after meeting him for the first time at MNet HQ earlier in the day.

Firstly, a few impressions: there is no doubt in our minds that the man is well-equipped to handle what it takes to be a winner. He is a great ambassador for his country and a fine example of a ‘winner’ (in all senses of the word). For example, three weeks ago, the day after he had won, this writer had a short telephone interview with him, during what must have been a very stressful (but fun) time for him. At that time he was speaking with dozens of journalists a day, probably answering many of the same questions over and over again, and doing all this on minimal sleep. Nevertheless, he was charm and good manners personified. He had, after all, just won Big Brother Nigeria. I had mentioned, during our conversation that there was something he ought to see in South Africa if and when he ever got here.

Now, on meeting him on Friday, baring in mind that all of them had flown through the night from Lagos, and had been rushed off their feet all morning around Johannesburg, when I introduced myself, he not only remembered me and our conversation, he also remembered what I said to him and asked when he would get a chance to see what I had told him about. Not only that, but later, in the club, when a colleague and I introduced him to our boyfriends, he still remembered their names at the end of the night when we came to say goodbye. See? Attention to detail and a head for names and facts. That kind of thing raises his game in my book. It shows he pays attention to each and every person he meets, regardless of who you are, which is a sign of a special kind of person. Nice one, Katung.

When we met later in his hotel room, he was rushing to get ready for the party at Club Uhuru (pity if you missed it – it was a blast and a half!), ironing his clothes, lacing his shoes and trying to swallow a Big Mac at the same time (apparently there is no McDonalds in Nigeria so he just had to try MaccyD’s for himself for the first time.)

I asked him what had changed for him since the show, and he quoted Oprah, who he claims is a big influence – “I’m still myself, I have my feet on the ground, I’m just wearing better shoes.”… I can attest to that, as he was lacing up brand new Caterpillar boots that he had bought in a hurry at The Zone that afternoon. The truth is, he is still the Katung that entered the House, he’s still real, but he has changed, because 3 months under public scrutiny and 3 months of life-changing experience will change anyone.

He is, however, changed for the better. He is more responsible. Like he says, “It’s a different ball game now. I’m not the me of four months ago.” He tells me about people he has never met calling him and SMS’ing him.

He feels much more responsibility on his head, and is aware that, while he tries his best, he can’t please everybody, so ultimate aims to please himself and set out to make his dreams come true, thereby making space to help others eventually. “It’s all about striking a balance,” he says.

I asked him about his relationship with his family, because it is clear that such a responsible and caring attitude comes from a strong homebase. He laughs and tells me his parents weren’t happy with him smoking and drinking in the House, (this coming from a man who addresses everyone older than him as ‘Sir’ or ‘Maam’, as in fact, do all the Housemates. ‘Nuff respek!), but that he had to be himself. he is pleased, though, that with his newfound cash and contacts he can help his brothers and family.

Speaking of contacts, earlier last week, Katung got to meet and chat with Obasanjo – an experience he rates as one of the highlights of his life! We briefly diverge into a discussion on politics, in which it becomes clear that Katung is a guy who thinks carefully and critically about such things, and who fills in my information blanks with intelligent discussion. He also is smart enough to realise that, although it is wonderful that he won the show, it is what he does with the opportunity that counts. He tells me that the money is great, but that the contacts he has made and is making count for much more than the money, in the long term. It is ultimately these contacts that will help him manifest his dreams, which will ultimately benefit his community and his country.

Back to the gossip stuff! I asked him if there was anything he wanted to clear up with fans about his activities in the House. he said he’s read the goss, and there’s one thing for certain – he and Ify did not have sex in the House. They may have shared a bed, but any movement you saw beneath the sheets were strictly of the ‘scratching-my-leg’ variety. Now you know the truth, from the horses mouth!

And there you have it. Trust us, Katung is one of the nicest, most humble reality-show celebs we have ever met. We say good luck and Godspeed. And we look forward to seeing you in SA again soon!
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