2014 Big Brother Africa Hotshots contestant Jerome Arab known as JJ, who stayed all the way to the last day says he’s broke, depressed, hates his life and has become suicidal. The Zimbabwean singer, rapper, actor, songwriter and director said he expected his life to change after appearing on the show, but things have gotten worse as there’s so much more pressure on him now to make something of his life. JJ says he’s just an ordinary unemployed Zimbabwean struggling to make ends meet.
“The truth is that I am broke and going through a rough patch. I am a pedestrian, I didn’t win the jackpot and I am probably poorer than I was before BBA,” he admitted.
“So many things are piling in my life and it doesn’t seem like there is an immediate solution for me. It stressed me so much I had to go for a psychological analysis.”
JJ talks more about his situation in an interview with Zimbabwean journalist Chipo Sabeta.
CS:HI JJ HOW ARE YOU?
JJ:Hi sister, it’s been long and not rosy. Before I say much, people think life on TV is amazing but I want you to tell them that is neither real no rosy.
JJ:There is so much I want to do and I am funding everything from my pocket. I am also looking after my granny,my mum and daddy will be coming back for my sister’s wedding and they want my help as well. They are in Zambia. The truth is that I am broke and ggoing through a bad patch.
CS:WHAT COULD BE THE PROBLEM
JJ:Of course, everyone , everyone in the country is goign through the same challenges but I feel my situation is complex, I am an entertainer and the industry in Zimbabwe is not paying.
I tried everything but nothing came up. I have a Diploma in Media and And television Studeies but I have not used that certificate since I obtained it. I tried recording but nothing is paying. SO many things are piling in my life and it doesn’t seem like there is an immediate solution for me. It stressed me so much that I had to go for a psychological analysis.
CS:HOW DID THAT GO?
JJ: I was scared to go there for the first time. The first session was intense. The process they give you a book and things to fill out.
I had started losing weight and my friend referred me there to a pyschologist. They must have got me on a bad day and started questioning me on little things. To cut the long story short, they then referred me to South African for rehabilitation.
CS:WHEN DO YOU START?
JJ: Today(yesterday) was my final day of counselling. The psychologist asked me how I feel since I have done so much work. I have tried everything at all cost but life has never brought me any good. I am trying music, recording, acting but there is nothing happening.
They were worried. The most stressed people are suicidal. But my handlers thought otherwise. They insist that my situation was normal and it is basically what everyone could be going through.
Its not too serious yet. They said when its gets serious, it gets bad to the extent on self-harm, like cutting myself. They physically checked my body for signs of self harm.
It was not the case with me. That’s why they released me. Today was my final day.
CS:YOUR BRIEF BACKGROUND?
JJ: I am an adopted child, my mother gave up on me when I was two weeks old because she could not take care of me since she was only 13 years old. Her name was Natalie Hellen Hussey. I only heard about her death in 2007. I have never met my dad and I don’t know if he is alive or not. I have four sisters from my mother’s side and I have only met three of them. I am told one is in Canada.
CS: WHO ADOPTED YOU?
JJ: My parents are Yasin and geraldine Arab. They took care of me, schooled me and sent me to the UK when I was 17 years old. I have two sisters in my adopted family. They are in Zambia at the moment taking care of my granny.
CS:AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
JJ: Things were not rosy in Zimbabwe around 2008 and my parents decided to send us to the United Kingdom. We were going to stay there with my aunty(mum’s sister) but upon arrival, they only accepte my sister. They had no accomodation. My(adopted) sister got a life and she even got married.
CS;SHAME, HOW WERE YOU MANAGING THEN?
JJ: I was only 17 and life was difficult. I managed to work formally which I did for nearly a year. I had three jobs then, however upon losing my documents, everything went wrong, I could not afford paying taxes and everything was complicated because I was sleeping in gym backyards, restaurants and hospitals for the better part of my years in the UK.
However I managed to raise money to come back home. Surprisingly the migration official handed me my passport that day.
CS: HOW DID YOUR PROBLEMS START?
JJ: I think they are the largely attributed to my upbringing. Sometimes I find myself breaking down alone. I can’t face the reality of not knowing my biological parents despite the smooth upbringing my adopted parents gave me until I finished school.
CS: AND BIG BROTHER DID IT NOT OPEN OPPORTUNITIES?
JJ:When I left for big brother, I realised it was not everything in life. The fame it brings is not rosy.
CS:WHAT HAS LIFE BEEN LIKE POST BBA?
JJ:I started receiving hate mails and it’s been bad for me. I was accused of a lot of things especially from those who claim that I sabotaged their favourite players. There is a tendency of judging people but the truth is that we are as good as people in the street and I am one of those people who doesn’t pretend.
JJ:Pheww. I am not in good shape. My blood pressure is too high and it’s been like that for a month. They insist that I must stay calm but I don’t think it’s right to take them seriously at the moment.
CS:DO YOU DRINK?
JJ:I was an alcoholic. I used to abuse alcohol since I was a teenager and upon my return from UK i then decided to quit for two months before I entered the BBA house. I know what type of a person I become when I get drunk. I eaily break down and get depressed.
CS:BUT YOU ARE ALSO A TALENTED ARTISTE?
JJ: The industry is full of people who can sell a dream but do nothing to help you or put you on the map. Musically, I am working on some stuff with Bashupi. We have a recorded track schedule for release any day.
CS: WHAT ARE YOUR ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS?
JJ: Diploma in Media and TV studies.
JJ: (laughing) You think I can afford to marry in such a case? Do you really understand what I am going through? I am very single ad I don’t have plans of settling with anyone at the moment. I really need time to recover from what I am going through.
CS:WHERE DO YOU STAY?
JJ:Hatfield. I use a cottage at my uncle’s house and I am staying there for free but I feel like a burden because I am a grown man who should be taking care of himself.
CS:HOW ARE YOU SURVIVING?
JJ:It’s tough, that’s all I can say. I am lucky that I a getting part of my parents’ rent from the Mt Pleasant house but the money is only meant for food.
CS: WHAT DISTINGUISES YOU FROM OTHERS?
JJ: I can easily be described as a fun, ambitious, happy, loving and warm person but I dislike people who are “full of themselves”.
I don’t lie. I speak the truth and I don’t pretend. I am not ashamed to speak out my condition.
CS: WHAT TYPE OF CAR DO YOU DRIVE?
JJ: I don’t own a car. The one I used today belongs to my sister because I had appointments because I had appointments with the psychiatrists and you..(laughing) I use public transport.
CS:HOW DID YOU MAKE IT TO BIG BROTHER?
JJ: A friend of mine took me for auditions in 2013 but I only managed to be a fake housemate. I ws among si fake housemates on Big brother Afric. I only got US$1 000 for those two weeks on TV
CS: AND REPRESENTING ZIM?
JJ:It feels good but its not what people think it is. It’s also frustrating in the house and there are many challenges.
CS:YOU WERE NOT WELL KNOWN HERE BEFORE BIG BROTHER?
JJ: True probably because I was in the UK for some time and I had nothing on my name in the entertainment circles. Of course it was because of the years in Europe. I was only in Zimbabwe for two years before I tried BBA.
CS: WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH POWER FM DJ BUTTERPHLY PHUNK?
JJ; She was my mate and we get along . She is a cool sisters. But after the game, everyone heads home and minds their own business. We talk though, we are cool.
CS: LIFE AFTER BBA
JJ: I was among the last group and having spent three months in the house , it’s painful to have nothing to show. I left the house empty handed. Upon my arrival, I had to help my granny pay her medical bills and start life all over again. It was like starting from ZERO.
Besides being called at Multichoice official functions, there is really nothing to show for it. I am a pedestrian, I didn’t win the jackpot and I am probably poor than I was before BBA.
However I enjoyed and learnt more about people’s cultures. It’s a good platform for uniting Africa because it’s a chance that everyone wanted.
CS: AND IF YOU HAD WON THE BIG 300K CHEQUE?
JJ: I was going to expand my music career onto the international stage, refurbish my parents house and also donate to charity.
CS:WHAT KEEPS YOU OCCUPIED?
JJ: I am a writer. I am working on a book to portray my bad traits and how some of them have been haunting me. At times I do menial coaching to sports students at Prince Edward. I was a semi professional rugby player. They don’t pay me but it’s just a way of giving back to the community, that’s my former school.
CS:YOU ALSO HAVE A PASSION FOR SINGING?
JJ: I love singing, it annoys my family but I believe I will make it. Like I said, I have done a track with BaShupi and its recorded. I am hoping it will be released soon but he is away in Zambia.
CS: HOW ABOUT ACTING?
JJ: I am good at that too but still nothing is coming my way to put food on the table.
CS:OTHER ARTISTES YOU HAVE WORKED WITH?
JJ: Bashupi, Simba TAx, who is a singer and producer, Revarb 7(producer) ad Kelly Rusike.
CS: ANY HOPES OF GOING BACK TO UK?
JJ: No, a big NO, I will never go back there. It’s better to struggle from home than in a foreign land. Of course, I still want to to explore countries like America and Canada.