The wait is over! The die is cast for a potentially thrilling Big Brother Africa, this year dubbed The Chase. There is no need for fortune-telling anymore, because tonight on AfricaMagic, AfricaMagic Entertainment, AfricaMagic World as well as DStv channels 197 and 198,
Zimbabwe's representatives in the reality show will be unveiled.
So far, we know that 14 African countries are taking part in this year's edition while 28 participants will be unveiled at 7pm.
As anticipation and speculation mount, the big question is: who will represent Zimbabwe in the house this season?
Over the years, Big Brother Africa (BBA) has been known to pluck from the "wilderness" some of the most unimaginable characters, among them Bertha Zakeyo, Itai Makumbe, Vimbai Mutinhiri, Tapuwa Mhere, Maneta Mazanhi and Wendall Parson, the unknown white boy who went on to win the big prize.
Therefore, it would not come as a complete surprise if some drop-dead, hyperactive but brainless beauty ends up in the house or a sharp, uncharismatic, boring character that can last the distance but not bring the prize home.
That is the unpredictability of the game – it always brings fresh, new concepts which are not always popular with the audiences, but are all the same refreshing.
For instance, since Munya Chidzonga's re-introduction into the game in 2011 in what was dubbed the BBA All Stars and last year's inclusion of the celebrities house (Upperville), there has been a move towards "celebrity" characters.
Audiences, especially Zimbabweans, would want to see another Rockford "Roki" Josphats representing the country.
Which is probably why a name like Pokello Nare would be thrown into the hat. People believe she is "made for Big Brother". Despite a leaked s*x tape, the dazzling well-groomed socialite held her fort and still continued to live a public life and even convinced people that she is a shrewd businesswoman.
Efforts to track her down through her cellphone and that of her on-and-off boyfriend, Stunner, whom she starred with in the distasteful tape, were unfruitful. But if she was indeed in Zimbabwe last week, then it is highly unlikely she will be in the Big Brother House today.
Big Brother contestants usually go into "hiding" a week or two before the game commences, which is why another hot favourite, Lady Squanda, a 21-year-old reggae-dancehall artiste who has also been touted as "the one" on social networking sites and in the mainstream media, is also doubtful.
Investigations by this paper showed that Squanda picked up her performance cheque from a local promoter last week and by Thursday she was still in the country.
But, who knows, what with former two-time Big Brother UK housemate Makosi Musambasi revealing that she was headed to South Africa, but could not reveal the nature of her business.
"All I can say is that I am leaving for South Africa tomorrow (Friday). But that is all I can say for now, everything else you will discover on your own," she quipped when phoned about her role in BBA.
However, ex-BBA contestant Munya Chidzonga, who came close to winning the big prize on his second attempt, dismissed the rumour-mill, saying Big Brother was a game shrouded in mystery.
"I know the nature of the game; it is built on secrecy and surprise. Let us just wait for Sunday evening — I am confident Biggie has something special for us, because without the element of surprise, Big Brother isn't Big Brother at all," he said.
Munya stressed the importance of Zimbabweans taking a more positive attitude to BBA.
"People still have a negative view of Big Brother, so we need someone who will go out there and embrace the show, represent our country well, entertain Africa, but, above all, bring the prize home," added Munya.
On the qualities required for a BBA contestant, Elizabeth Dziva, a spokesperson for MultiChoice Zimbabwe, said producers look for persons who are fluent in English, are entertaining, open-minded, adventurous, bold and passionate about the BBA experience. "One has to be tolerant, determined and enthusiastic," she said.
Whoever represents the country this year, Zimbabweans will rally behind him or her as they have done over the years. So as the glamour of the limousines and red carpets take centre stage tonight, Zimbabweans will wait with bated breath to see who will be the face of their beloved country.
Providing entertainment tonight will be South Africa's leading Afro-pop group Mafikizolo, Kenya's award-winning artiste STL and Nigerian music heavyweights Don Jazzy, D' Prince and Wande Coal.
With several albums and awards under their belt, Mafikizolo have enthralled their fans with such hits as Sibongile, Ndihamba Nawe, Nisixoshelani and, most recently, the dance hit Khona.
Their performance on the BBA stage is surely going to remind audiences why the chart-topping group remain the best in their field, with experience spanning 15 years. The line-up will also include a slot for some comic relief from Kenyan stand-up comedian Daniel Ndambuki, popularly known as Churchill. The highly talented entertainer has also become a household name with his television show called Churchill Live.
BBA, Africa's biggest reality series, will be screened live for 91 days, 24 hours a day on DStv channels 197 and 198 while GOtv audiences will be able to view highlights on AfricaMagic World.