By Penny Dale
A group of Zambian churches has demanded that the reality television show Big Brother Africa be taken off the air.
"Immoral, indecent and dishonest - that is how
you will end up," the churches are
warning, if you watch the South Africa-based show making headlines from Cape to Cairo.
The groups' every move is broadcast across the continent
The show brings together in a single house 12 contestants - each from a different African country.
Just about every move the housemates make - their time in bed, in the kitchen, in the garden and in the shower - is caught on camera and beamed into people's homes every night.
The contestants compete against each other to see who stays in the house the longest and at the end of 106 days, the winner gets a prize of US$100,000.
There is nothing the clergy can do about the fact that
the show is beamed into people's homes by satellite
but Zambia is one of 10 countries where Big Brother is
also shown on the national broadcaster.
Bishop Joshua Banda from the Assembly of God church in
Lusaka's Northmead district has launched what he
calls a "moral alert" and urged Zambians to sign a
petition demanding that the minister of information
and broadcasting stops the nightly visits to the house
made by state-owned television, ZNBC.
Zambian Big Brother fans back their contestant, Cherise
The Bread of Life and the Evangelical Fellowship of
Zambia are among the churches that agree with Bishop
Banda's complaints that the programme is a mockery of
They say the housemates' antics -
especially during "shower hour" - are eroding Zambia's
moral fibre and undermining efforts to change sexual
behaviour as a way of combating the spread of HIV and
The bishops' anger has sparked many an argument, in
bars, among passengers in commuter minibuses, even
among church congregations.
Plenty agree that scenes of nudity and housemates'
canoodling are disgusting and morally corrupting.
Big Brother fans - and there are plenty of those as
well - tell the bishops to mind their business and
switch channels if they don't want to watch but leave
others with the freedom to choose.
The power of the bishops should not be underestimated:
in the past, they have succeeded in removing
programmes they find distasteful, including the
popular Channel O music show - also broadcast by the South Africa M-Net channel which shows Big Brother Africa.