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'Big Brother Africa' houseguest Gaetano Kagwa becomes Ugandan national obsession


By Wade Paulsen, 07/15/2003 

The attention paid to Big Brother Africa continues to reverberate throughout Africa. In the latest twist, Reuters reports that Ugandan houseguest Gaetano Kagwa, whom we previously noted engaged in an on-air hookup with South African houseguest Abergail ("Abby") Plaatjes, has become a national hero in his country, with people gathered around TV sets to follow his latest antics.

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To capitalize on his fame, Big Brother producers Endemol sent Gaetano to visit the U.K. Big Brother house, where he kissed one woman and called another "a pig." In the ensuing days, a Gaetano look-alike was reputed to have been mobbed by lovestruck female students in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, and Gaetano became the most famous man in the country.

Ugandans even chose to focus on Gaetano instead of U.S. President George Bush's visit to their country last week. Said one reporter, "Not very many people would recognize Bush's face if you showed them a picture, but everyone can recognize Gaetano." Said a radio announcer, defending his preference for Gaetano over Bush, "Bush is here for four hours, Gaetano is here for 106 days. Who should we listen to?"

Whether Gaetano survives for 106 days will be the choice of the pan-African viewing audience. However, among Ugandans, there appears to be no doubt. From the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, we wish Gaetano, Abby and all the rest good luck ... and we're at least thankful that, unlike the U.S. houseguests, none of the Africans are known to have a sexually-transmitted disease.









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