Bongo Star Search returns

Friday September 14 2018


By Paul Owere

Dar es Salaam. Talent search television show Bongo Star Search is back having taken a three-year break, in a smaller but compact version, with new sponsors, too.

The show which now has new partners StarTimes will audition in four cities including Mwanza, Mbeya, Arusha and later on in Dar es Salaam.

The announcement was greeted with excitement because for many young people this is their ultimate show, a place where they can showcase their talent to the rest of the world.

It soon got the social media very active with many congratulating organisers for the return – to them a sign of good things yet to come.

These are not very interesting times in the industry across the continent where most talent and reality TV shows have closed down.

At a time when most talent search shows such as Tusker Project Fame took indefinite breaks, BSS has chosen to carry on in the murky waters which do not always guarantee success.

The three-year hiatus of BSS is one that has never been explained but analysts believe it was mainly due to funding issues.

“When we took that break it was part of our rebranding strategy which I think has made us even stronger and that is why we believe you are going to see something new on TV,” says Rita Paulsen.

Madam Rita’s assertions could be true especially at a time when many TV channels are hungry for such content.

But apart from the promise of a versatile and well produced show there are certain things that are likely to remain the same for example the judging panel that includes Salama, Master Jay and Madam Rita herself.

Same old BSS?

But as we prepare for the return of the crowd pulling show, the question that lingers on many a fan is whether this season will turn out differently.

Many believe that despite the fact that most of the contestants being talented, the main motivation to go into the contest is not music but the money.

“To love money shouldn’t be something evil but if it becomes a sole motivation for someone getting into the contest then it becomes a problem in many ways,” says Ali Salim, who has watched the show for the past 10 years.

The brains behind the show are determined to change this, Rita believes that in the past 12 years the show that was modelled around the American Idols has provided a platform for several artistes to excel.

Against odds

But as Rita Paulsen boasts of the success they have scored this time around, history does not seem to be in their favour.

Past winners of this contest have had very little to show musically. When Jumanne Iddi danced his way to victory singing Sam Mapangala’s ‘Dunia Tunapita’ in 2007,it was expected to be his moment of breakthrough.

This was never to be, his attempt on the grand stage was rather lukewarm as he would soon descend into oblivion.

“What we have done is more than just rewarding the eventual winner, the platform that we give these contestants is massive for anyone who is seeking a career launch pad,” Rita once told The Beat.

Even the rigorous management that was put on Walter Chilambo after he won the BSS Epic Season in 2012 didn’t turn him into the star that his legion of fans expected him to be.

Others such as Misoji Nkwabi, Mariam Mohamed the only female contestants to have won made very little attempt at igniting their music journey.

In fact, after Mariam won the contest in 2010 she started playing hide and seek with the record company which was supposed to fast track her development.

But even with such setbacks Rita says they have every reason to be proud of the show’s contribution to the music industry.

“If you look around carefully, there is no band in town which doesn’t have a member or two that was once in BSS,” she says.

Individual success of artistes such as Peter Msechu, Ommy Dimpoz, Kala Jeremiah, Mary Lucas, Baby Madaha and Rogers among others is the other achievement that Rita Paulsen aka Madam Rita proudly quotes.

Infact, even the high flying Hermonize who has released a string of hits was part of Bongo Star Search where judges steamrolled him.

She believes that one doesn’t have to get the prize money to be the ultimate star that they want to be.

“Look at artistes such as Peter Msechu, he didn’t win in 2009 but he had the talent and desire to succeed in the industry and that is why he has continued to shine,” says Rita.

She believes this is what viewers and fans should look forward to in the upcoming season which shall be aired on StarTimes.