Sekou Bunch the first castaway to exit 'Survivor: Cook Islands'
By Reality TV World staff, 09/15/2006
The latest example that being outspoken and trying to assume a leadership role during Survivor's early days can prove fatal -- especially if you also end up demonstrating yourself to be an apparent weak leader -- Sekou Bunch, a 45-year-old jazz musician/recording artist who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, became the first Survivor: Cook Islands castaway to be eliminated from the game, voted off in a 3-2 Tribal Council vote that split along gender lines.
Last night's broadcast of Survivor's controversial race-divided thirteenth Cook Islands edition premiere began in the same manner as the long-running reality show's original Summer 2000 edition. After having already been informed that they would be equally divided into four racially divided tribes, the twenty castaways were given two minutes to salvage whatever they could from the boat that had transported them to their disembarking point. Once they'd frantically grabbed as many of the supplies (Hawaiian slings, firewood, fish traps, bananas, lanterns, live chickens, and more) as they saw fit, the tribes freed their bamboo rafts and began the long paddle to their individual campsites.
As they paddled to their camps, some of the new castaways joked about their situation. "I don't know about you, but I feel like this is ass backwards... our parents got on a raft -- or at least my parents did -- and paddled away from an island just so I could have a good life and here I am paddling back to an island," Billy Garcia, a member of the Hispanic Aitutaki tribe, joked. "[This is my] second time being a boat person," Anh-Tuan "Cao Boi" Bui, whose Asian jokes had already begun to annoy some of his fellow Asian-American Puka Puka tribemembers as they paddled, commented as his tribe reached its camp.
After arriving at their new homes, Survivor: Cook Islands' castaways gave their opinions about the season's initial race-based tribal divisions.
"My first thought when I saw the tribes were split right along racial lines was 'Oh god, this is going to be hard' just because I feel that as a people that have the same ethnicity maybe we'll clash on things," Oscar "Ozzy" Lusth, a member of the Hispanic Aitutaki tribe, commented. "This is a unique opportunity to represent our community in a positive way, I mean we just show that we work hard and we play hard -- I think we're going to go far," said fellow Aitutaki member Cecilia Mansilla.
But as far as Billy was concerned, the race-based divisions were an advantage for his tribe. "When the tribes were divided, I thought 'What an advantage for the Hispanics' -- the Hispanics all come from the Caribbean or South America backgrounds where we're used to being in the tropical setting," the 36-year-old heavy metal guitarist commented.
Over at the Asian-American Puka Puka tribe, Yul Kwon admitted to having some reservations about the concept. "I honestly was stunned, this is crazy," Yul told the cameras during a confessional. "On one hand I think it's a great opportunity because it's wonderful that there's more minorities [but] at the same time I'm a little bit worried that it might play out to caricatures and stereotypes so I don't know, it will be interesting to see how things play out."
Similar to Yul, the African-American Manihiki tribe also had a somewhat split reaction to the racial divisions. "I believe we all feel the pressure to 'represent' and that just means being able to represent us, our people, the African-American culture," said Stephannie Favor. "It makes me feel like because we are divided by race now we have to step up to the plate and show yes, black people do swim, yes, black people do know how to get on a boat and paddle -- I mean we don't just run track," Rebecca Borman added during her own confessional. But Sundra Oakley was unconcerned about the divisions. "I could care less about divisions by ethnicity -- when it comes to surviving, it's a human effort," she told the cameras.
Meanwhile over at Rarotonga, the Caucasian tribe admitted being a little surprised about the season's controversial initial divisions. "Different ethnic groups... I mean is that kosher, I dunno, but it's a cool social experiment I think," Parvati Shallow told the cameras. "It doesn't matter to me if it's all other white people or any other type of race -- the issue is what type of people you have in your tribe and what type of personalities and how you get along," Adam Gentry added during his own confessional.
As they built their shelters and organized their camps, wannabe supermen, possible outsiders, potential scapegoats, and reluctant leaders all quickly began emerging.
Over at Aitutaki, although Billy attempted to grab the tribe's leadership mantle by impressing them with claims that he knew how to build a shelter and toilet, it was a reluctant Ozzy who ended up taking charge of the camp's construction after Billy's actions showed that he had overstated his outdoor knowledge. Although he had intentionally hoped to avoid assuming a leadership role, Ozzy's lead role in the construction of the shelter, coupled with his impressive ability climb the island's trees and harvest some coconuts, seemed to vault him into a position as Aitutaki's initial leader.
At Puka Puka, 42-year-old Cao Boi, the only immigrant member of his Asian-American tribe and also the tribe's oldest member, immediately began to feel like an outsider. "My biggest concern being on an all-Asian tribe is I've never been accepted by the Asian community -- take one look at me," Cao Boi worried. "I don't fit the stereotype... I belong in a hippie community instead... this is a very dangerous position to be in." "The person I'm having the most difficulty with is Cao Boi because I sense a little bit of a schism there, I think there's some degree of a generational gap," 31-year-old Yul acknowledged during his own confessional.
Over at Manihiki, Sekou attempted to assert himself into a leadership role, but Nathan Gonzalez, the tribe's only other male member, suspected that trouble might eventually emerge. "We just got here [and] we're trying to assemble a shelter [and] it's going alright but you know, black people don't like to be told what to do and we have a bunch of headstrong people around here, me being one of them," Nathan told the cameras.
Meanwhile, over at Rarotonga, Jessica "Flica" Smith got herself into Jonathan Penner's doghouse when, only hours after the tribe arrived at their new home, she inadvertently freed the two chickens -- one of whom Jonathan had "unintentionally" poached from the Puka Puka tribe -- that the tribe had managed to grab during the two-minute free-for-all that proceeded the tribes leaving their transport boat. "A one second mistake cost us the chickens... I'm not happy right now with Flica, I can forgive her but I don't have to forgive her because she screwed up my chickens," Jonathan vented during a confessional.
The next day, the tribes' internal dynamics began further emerging. As Sundra and Rebecca, two New York natives, began bonding, both they and Stephannie started to grow frustrated with Sekou. "He likes to take long breaks and we've got too much to do," Stephannie lamented during confessional. "I understand we're all low on fuel right now but he is not one to stay focused at all." Over at Rarotonga, sparks began flying between Adam and Candice Woodcock. "Adam wants to be the big strong man and take care of Candice... they're snuggling -- I dunno, romance is in the air," Parvati commented.
On Day 3, Cao Boi managed to impress his tribe when he used an old world technique to cure Brad Virata's headache. "In Vietnamese, we call it a 'bad wind' that's causing him this and that can result in a headache," Cao Boi explained. After using his hands to massage Brad's forehead and "pull the bad wind out," a skeptical Brad admitted that although he now had a strange large red welt on his forehead, his headache was gone. "Truthfully... I did have a headache [and] I don't have a headache anymore -- but I do have a red dot on my forehead." "I told him when it's completely gone, [his] body will be fully healed," Cao Boi explained about Brad's new red "indicator" mark that the tribe's three other members all found extremely amusing. "The others -- they're [all] Asian-American, they were born in America, they've lost touch... [with the old ways that people] do to get by."
Later that day, the tribes gathered for their first challenge, a joint Reward/Immunity Challenge that required the tribes to assemble a puzzle boat, use the assembled boat to paddle out and retrieve fire from a floating fire barrel, return to shore, traverse a small obstacle course, assemble a puzzle, place the four assembled puzzle pieces in their appropriate puzzle spots, and then use the boat's braces to create a ladder that would allow all the tribemembers to climb a platform and light another fire barrel atop their platform. The first three tribes to complete the challenge would win firemaking flint and immunity from the evening's upcoming Tribal Council. As an extra bonus, the first tribe to finish would also receive a a firemaking kit containing kindling, waterproof matches, and kerosene.
While Aitutaki was the first tribe to assemble their boat and reach their floating fire barrel, Puka Puka was right behind. Rarotonga struggled to keep their boat together once they began paddling, but with Manihiki still back on shore encountering problems putting their puzzle boat together, Rarotonga remained comfortably in third place. After the tribes returned to shore, the challenge remained a two-way race between Aitutaki and Puka Puka. Rarotonga momentarily caught up to the leading tribes at the puzzle station, but Puka Puka and Aitutaki both completed their puzzles moments after Rarotonga arrived.
In the end, Puka Puka (who had finished their puzzle a few seconds ahead of Aitutaki) managed to hold off Aitutaki during the final ladder building station and become the first tribe to climb up the platform and light their fire barrel. Aitutaki finished a few seconds behind, turning the challenge's final immunity slot into a two-way race between Rarotonga and Manihiki, who, due to some subsequent struggles from Rarotonga, had managed to catch up to Rarotonga at the puzzle station. However although Adam and Jonathan cost their tribe valuable time when they initially struggled with the puzzle, they were able to solve it before Sekou and Stephannie could do the same for Manihiki, allowing Rarotonga to win the final immunity slot and send Manihiki to Survivor: Cook Islands' first Tribal Council session.
After the challenge ended, Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed the challenge's final twist -- that as the losing tribe, Manihiki had gained the right to send a member of any of the other three tribes to Exile Island for the next two days. Just like last season, Exile Island would again feature a hidden Immunity Idol that its finder would be able to use at any of the game's pre-Final 3 Tribal Council sessions. Apparently thinking that the decision was solely theirs to make, Sekou and Nathan -- Manihiki's two male members -- took it upon themselves to wander out from their mat, size up the other tribes, and discuss which castaway they would send to Exile Island as the three women silently remained behind.
After Jeff made a point of pointing out the pair's behavior out to the rest of the castaways, Sekou and Nathan revealed that "their tribe" had decided to send Jonathan -- whose chicken thievery had been a pre-challenge topic of open discussion among the assembled tribes -- to Exile Island. "We don't know his name, but we can point him out to you," Sekou told Jeff. "We say karma is a bezel, so [we're sending] my chicken man over here," Nathan announced as he pointed to Jonathan.
Once on Exile Island, Jonathan read the first clue about the hidden Immunity Idol's location and attempted -- to no avail -- to find it. Along the way, he also lamented his fate. "I think it was because I took the Asian guy's chicken that the African-American guys chose me -- that's all they said," said Jonathan. "I was so shocked by what happened, I didn't even have a comeback."
Meanwhile, back at Manihiki, Nathan and Sekou quickly realized that if the tribe's three women voted together, one of them would be going home. "If they're in three, they're going to be trying to vote one of us off," Sekou told Nathan. Realizing that their only hope was to convince one of the women to vote with them and feeling that they already didn't have much hope of convincing Rebecca or Sundra to turn on each other, Nathan and Sekou decided to attempt to convince Stephannie to join with them and vote Sundra out.
"If y'all lose me tonight, and y'all lose another competition and y'all team up [again] and lose Nate, then it's just you three girls [and] you're out," Sekou told Stephannie as he attempted to convince her to ally herself with the men. "Them two are tight, them two are like peas in a pod -- you have to break that up [or you'll be going home after Nathan.]"
And although he had appeared to thus far have proven himself to be a largely ineffectual leader, Sekou also attempted to convince Stephannie -- who had already discussed the upcoming eviction vote with Rebecca and Sundra and appeared to have already decided to send one of the men home -- that the tribe needed his leadership.
"Do you want to make an alliance with a bunch of people based on where they are from or someone who knows how to survive in this environment or can bring on some fire," Sekou -- despite not actually having managed to create any fire during the tribe's first three days on the island -- boasted to Stephannie. After Stephannie pointed out that the tribe actually didn't have any fire yet, Sekou brushed the minor detail off and continued his base his awkward campaigning around a "campaign promise" that he had thus far proven completely incapable of delivering upon. "That's alright, when I build a fire y'all better keep it going because if y'all boot me out there ain't going to be any more fire. This ain't a glamour war, this is about survival. This is the real thing. This is about getting down, you feel what I'm saying?"
Unsurprisingly, when it came time to cast her Tribal Council vote, Stephannie remained unconvinced that Sekou's firestarting abilities would suddenly improve and voted for his ouster, resulting in Sekou becoming the first castaway to be voted out of Survivor: Cook Islands. After his elimination, Sekou remained delusional during his parting Final Words. "I believe a good leader is one who can instill some guidance and I'm sure that I had a real strong effect with my tribe, I have no doubt about that. They saw that I was a real strong leader... my torch may be out, but my flame is still burning."