Friday, 12 June 2009

Much ado about a Mansion

I’ve said it time without number that I’m not searching for a wife. This is more about celebrating African woman than D’banj. For your information, I signed an agreement with the production crew not to touch any of the contestants, so, it’s not what you think. This is a reality show and I’m sticking to the rules of the game


AS he stepped into the Apa Hall, Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, in company of his producer, Don Jazzy and Mo Hits Records team, Dapo Oyebanji (aka D’banj) took time to exchange greetings of guests.
Don Jazzy and his entourage comprising Wande Coal, Sid and others had taken their seats, the Fall In Love singer went on and on, shaking hands with almost everyone before finally taking his seat beside the don, Jazzy.
The event was the formal unveiling of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Vita Foam and Jagal Group as official sponsors for Koko Mansion, a TV reality show, with D’banj as the anchorman. The event saw the three corporate oganisations pledge their full support for the TV show that will see the winner smiling away with N5 million, a brand new car and a diamond ring by US-based Nigeria fashion designer.
A concept developed by D’Banj, the show is centred on the activities of 12 young women living in a house (Koko Mansion) for eight weeks, where they will put to play the virtues of womanhood to please D’Banj.
Slated to commence tomorrow, the show will run for eight weeks after which one of the 12 girls will emerge as the real Kokolette.
However, since the satellite TV company, HiTV, disclosed its readiness to partner with D’banj on the show, the decision has been generating mixed reaction from the public. Though the younger people, especially girls, embraced the initiative, which to them, is just a reality show, others, women activists in particular, see the show as degrading to womanhood.
Amid the controversies, the television company, through its business development manager, Morayo Aka-Bashorun, made effort to clear the air on the motives behind the reality show.
“The difference between Koko Mansion and other TV reality shows, is hinged on the fact that it strives to celebrate womanhood and the true qualities of an African woman. It entirely celebrates womanhood and all it takes to be a true African woman. It extols our values, cultures and traditional roles of women in our society. The girls would be engaged in varied activities throughout the period of the show. D’banj would not be living with them but would be required to come in often to see them,” she explained.
Aka-Bashorun corrected the impression that the show is all about D’banj, stating that it is about highlighting the virtues of a true African woman any man would want for a wife.
In her words, “the show is not about D’banj, but about the Kokolette. We are showing the virtues of a true woman that will appeal to an average man to marry.
Though, D’banj is single, young and rich, he symbolises what it means to be an eligible bachelor in Nigeria.

But what is D’banj up to with this project? Of all the artistes in Nigeria, why was he selected as the face of the show? Is he actually searching for a wife? What happens between him and the Kokolette after the competition?
These are some of the question raised by some concerned Nigerians. Previous efforts to engage Da Koko master in a chat on the issue proved abortive as he was said to be attending to business in London.
At last, the unveiling ceremony provided the opportunity to confront the artiste on the matter and for sure, he provided the answers.
The idea of Koko Mansion was actually conceived by D’Banj during a heated discussion with friends on how to discover the qualities of a marriageable African woman. From mere argument, issues developed into a concept, which was presented to HiTV for partnership. Luckily, the proposal scaled through.

TO Koko Master, who is an ideal woman? “When I think of an ideal woman, I think of my mother. But I’ve also seen women different from my mother, who have wonderful characteristics. This show is not only going to help me; it will help a lot of young successful bachelors to know what an ideal woman should be. By the end of the show, I will know the perfect way to choose a wife.”
According to him, Koko Mansion strives to correct the erroneous impression that a Kokolette is just the ‘party girl’ and project her as a truly responsible woman, capable of holding her own both at home and in public.
“It’s unfortunate that people are reading meanings to the word ‘Kokolette,’ but we intend to correct that impression; this is not about degrading any gender. We intend to empower young ladies to be the best of what they are. We appreciate the concern of the people, but all I could say now is, wait till the end of the show.”
Have you had it rough with women?
“Not really; it’s the good, the bad, and the ugly,” he says.
And you believe in love?
“Yes, I strongly believe in love; when I find the right person, I won’t waste time. She maybe fat or slim, but whoever she is, I’m ready.”
People say the show is about selecting a wife for you?
“I’ve said it time without number that I’m not searching for a wife. This is more about celebrating African woman than D’banj. For your information, I signed an agreement with the production crew not to touch any of the contestants, so, it’s not what you think. This is a reality show and I’m sticking to the rules of the game.”
On the opinion that the winner will automatically become the only female member of the Mo Hits Records, D’Banj says, “What if she’s not interested in music? We can’t force her to do music!”
What if she’s interested?
“Then she will be our own Beyonce,” he retorts.

ASIDE from the prizes, there are plans by the organisers to support the winner in any business of her choice.
“We are going to be pushing her a lot; Mo Hits Records and I will be pushing her as far as we could. For instance, if we discover that she’s good in hairdressing, we can help her invest in a state of the art salon. If she’s interested in modeling or interior decoration, we will do our best to support her; we can even pave way for her to decorate Aso Rock,” he says amidst laughts.
How prepared are you to host the show?
“I’ve hosted a lot of awards; Hip-hop World Award, Channel O and others. Everyone knows I’m an entertainer, so, you will be getting more of that. I think you should watch the show; you will be seeing more of Dapo than D’Banj.”
Apart from Koko Mansion, D’Banj is also involved in charity projects targeted at the less privileged children in the society through Koko Foundation.
“The Foundation is out to develop the less privileged because God has blessed me from nothing. We’ve been going round the country, visiting less privileged and motherless babies home. In the course of this programme, we will be bringing some of these kids into the Koko Mansion to see how the ladies would relate with them.”
He continues: “I’m an entertainer, so, I cannot use what I don’t have; I only use what God has given me. We will be empowering the less privileged alongside other projects. In due time, you will get to know about it. As you can see, we are launching Koko Mansion and you will be seeing other Koko brands such as Koko Mobile, Koko Water and others.”
To D’banj, being a star goes beyond the glitz and glamour that come with it. “It’s about responsibility; for to whom much is given, much is expected. You end up facing a lot because of what you believe in; you can’t do the normal things you used to do. Sometimes you go out and you feel like letting loose, but you can’t because people look up to you; I can’t even sing the kind of songs I want to sing.”
“By God’s grace, I’ve grown and that is because my people have accepted me. It has put a lot of responsibility on my shoulder, so, I’m always very conscious of that. Whenever I’m working on any new project, I sleep and wake up with it at the back of my mind. I feel very privileged and favoured by God and I’m ready to take it to the next level. With the way I feel, I think I’ve just started.
Talking about your songs, Suddenly, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation recently banned the video.
“I heard the news while in the UK. I’ve tried to find out the reason for their action, but from what I’ve gathered, I’m not sure they got the clear picture of the song. But my management is working on that.”

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