HARARE – Munyaradzi “Hakeem” Mandaza’s selection as one of Zimbabwe’s representatives on this year’s Big Brother Africa the Chase took many by surprise.
Daily News on Sunday’s Tarisai Machakaire (TM) recently had a chat with the handsome ex-BBA housemate. Below are excerpts of the interview:
TM: Who really is Hakeem?
HM: My name is Munyaradzi Matthew Mandaza and I know a lot of people have been asking about the name Hakeem.
It actually means Munyaradzi but in a different of language. I am 23.
I grew up in Chitungwiza and went to Pfumo and Zengeza 5 primary schools. I proceeded to St Mary’s High for my Form 1 to 4 and then Lighthouse College for Advanced level.
TM: What should people know about you?
HM: I am a model and an aspiring actor. The singing part I discovered it while I was in the Big Brother House.
I have never sung before or recorded anything. I am a family person, a father of one and generally a loving person who is very expressive.
With me, you are always bound to get an appropriate reaction whenever something happens and I get along with ambitious and realistic people.
TM: Since your eviction from Big Brother Africa what has been keeping you busy?
HM: I am currently working with Chitungwiza Hospital’s paediatric ward in my bid to give back to the community. I am keen on starting a foundation to help abandoned sick and homeless babies.
I am also back in the gym to get back to modelling and on magazine covers. I am also taking vocal and song writing lessons to help me kick-start my musical career.
TM: When did you venture into modelling and do you think it contributed to your admittance into the Big Brother House?
HM: I started modelling when I was sixteen; my brother pushed me into it and I did it for about four years.
I took professional bodybuilding when I was around 20 and I became very committed to fitness.
I am currently the reigning Mr Harare Fitness. I have always been a huge Big Brother fan.
I auditioned with my brother last year but we couldn’t make it and that’s when people were going as partners. Roki and Maneta made it in the end. I think my modelling and bodybuilding careers contributed a lot to making me get into Big Brother.
TM: How was the BBA experience?
HM: It was a lot of fun in general though it had its ups and downs.
After all we are all human and we react to situations differently.
For me being grounded from the outside life wasn’t really a problem because there is a time in life when you just want to take a break from calls and disturbances.
TM: Do you think you benefitted anything by being confined to the BBA House?
HM: I learnt quite a lot that I cannot even summarise right now.
Meeting with different people from different countries you pick up on a lot and you end up with a more clarified view on the culture of people from other countries.
The exposure made people realise my capabilities and I tell you, these past few days have been hectic I’m getting calls from as far as Nigeria and Ethiopia. I feel I got exactly what I wanted.
TM: What are you aiming to achieve?
HM: I want to establish myself in the entertainment industry. I am still young and still have to explore the best I can do in terms of singing, modelling and acting. I feel I should work in Zimbabwe because I want to see a change in the local arts industry.
TM: What sort of relations did you have with Pokello?
HM: People didn’t really see much about me and Pokello, but we were close and spoke a lot and even shared strategies behind the camera. Everything I spoke about was about the situation inside the house.
I couldn’t really talk about her being from uptown and me ghetto because I do not even know where she stays.
TM: Is the relationship between Cleo and you real or it was just TV?
HM: It was real! I am in love with that girl and before I went for Big Brother I did not have a relationship.
Right now I cannot make decisions as a single entity. I’m just waiting for her to leave the house and we will pick up things from there.
TM: What about your baby mama?
HM: We are very close and she is one of the people I am always updating. I don’t have that typical belief that when you have ended a relationship everything should turn sour.
At the end of the day she has been a good mother to my son and we are very close despite not being together.
TM: Did you come home with anything?
HM: Yes, you get $100 for every week you survive eviction in the house.
I also got a PVR decoder from Multichoice so at least I get to record Cleo’s diaries.