By Tosin Ajirire
To the Efik people of Calabar, Fattening Room or Nkuho in the local language, is an age-old culture whereby young women are trained while in seclusion. The training, which includes cooking, housekeeping and childcare, is to prepare them for marriage and womanhood.
During the period of seclusion, the girls are being catered to by older women, who on daily basis ensure they are fed with large portion of assorted foods and large quantity of water. The girls are also made to get plenty of sleep. At the end of it all, the girls come out full figured spotting healthy waistlines and looking as beautiful as ever.
Now, this is precisely what EbonyLife TV is bringing on board as a reality show when six young ladies from across Africa will enter the Fattening Room for the very first time. Add to it a modern twist and these women will embark on a journey of self-discovery as they experience an age-old tradition and learn the art of true womanhood and the secret of finding and keeping true love.
Starting the series in the strict Efik tradition and moving towards modern invention while always honouring their African roots are Roselyn Ashkar, a fashion model and journalist from Ghana, Sally Berold, adventurer and skateboarder and freelance experiential marketing specialist from South Africa, and Stephanie Unachukwu, designer and fashionista from Nigeria.
Others include Patricia Kihoro, singer, actress and radio personality from Kenya, Tshepo Maphanyanye, publicity and public relations executive from Botswana, and Limpo Funjika, business development manager and aspiring TV presenter from Zambia.
Pamela Ofoegbu, Director, Reality Programming, EbonyLife TV said of the show: “It has been an incredible journey back to time as we celebrated our rich African heritage on a beautiful trado-modern backdrop. Our ladies from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya emerged from the Fattening Room with a better appreciation of the Efik culture and tradition and also of themselves as strong African women… full of value and worth.”
And for Heidi Uys, Series Director, Fattening Room, “nothing really prepares you for the reality of reality television when six young ladies from across Africa are transported a few centuries back to a time where thick waistlines for ladies were desirable. In the Fattening Room they eat and then eat some more. But fattening their souls is really where it’s at when the ladies rediscover African ways that all women should know. Will you watch? I know I will.”
Commenting on her experience while producing the show, Priscilla Nzimiro, Series Producer, Reality Programming, EbonyLife TV says, producing the Fattening Room has been a wonderful and enlightening experience where old culture meets the new world. “Working with the diverse cast from different countries made the experience even more fulfilling. There is so much to see and learn from our old traditions and what better way to preserve it than making a television series that highlights the richness and beauty that is embodied in our African culture,” she stressed.
Kenneth Gyang, Content Director, Fattening Room, could not but agree with Nzimiro as he said that “the experience of The Fattening Room for me has been engaging. I’m glad to be part of this reality TV programme put together by EbonyLife TV. Learning about the Efik culture as an observer through the lens is not only for these six amazing ladies from across Africa alone, it is for everyone whether in front or behind the camera!”
And not to be left out is Mo Abudu, CEO, EbonyLife TV and Executive Producer, The Fattening Room, who said that the show is a true testimony of if you can think it, you can do it. “As a team, during one of our strategy sessions about a year ago in Tinapa, we wanted to develop and produce a reality show that showcased the rich culture of Calabar that is now home to EbonyLife TV and we thought what better way to do that, than the Efik Tradition of The Fattening Room! And with the genius minds of the EbonyLife TV team at work, we gave it a treatment that will simply wow everyone when it airs! We simply took an old Efik culture and gave it a modern twist.
“One of the things I love most about EbonyLife TV’s original programming is the ease with which we operate within the traditional and modern. The Fattening Room is a must watch for couples in love and those still single and searching,” she declared.
Talking about her experience as part of the cast of The Fattening Room, Tshepo from Botswana said it is certainly one of her best experiences in life. “Participating in the Fattening Room has certainly been a surge of all kinds of emotions but best of all it has been without a doubt an incredible journey of discovery and a once in a lifetime opportunity of exposure to such a rich culture experienced alongside an amazing circle of young women from nations across Africa. Certainly its one of my best experiences,” she enthused.
Corroborating her is Stephanie Unachukwu, who confessed she has had the opportunity to learn new skills in the short amount of time she was in The Fattening Room. “I’ve been here and look forward to the rest of the show and what it holds,” she quipped.
The Fattening Room is one of the flagship programmes billed for launch by mid-year on the forth coming EbonyLife TV channel airing on the DStv platform in over 46 African countries.