Berla Mundi writes about hosting 2017 Miss Malaika & MTN HitMaker

Wow what a hectic three months its been!! Unbelievable that I was hosting two of Ghana’s biggest reality shows back to back whilst juggling my radio and TV jobs...

Wow what a hectic three months its been!! Unbelievable that I was hosting two of Ghana’s biggest reality shows back to back whilst juggling my radio and TV jobs on the side. How did I do it? I believe its God because honestly if I had to rely on my own strength, I probably would have fallen off the wagon along the way. Anyways let’s backtrack a little to when it started and how the journey has been…….

Miss Malaika Ghana…..

This would be my second time officially as the host of the beauty pageant which was in its 15thyear. The dream to host this pageant has been lifelong and it’s amazing that 6 years after partaking in this same competition that birthed my media career, I finally got the nod to become its official host. Year two started out smoothly with the auditions where I got to sit in as a scout. Over 500 girls thronged the venue hoping to be picked and groomed for the pageant and I’m sure each had her own reasons for wanting to be a part of the competition but one thing stood out; the need to boost their self-confidence. It is quite evident that our system encourages introversion especially amongst women and this reality show seems to be a channel for them to overcome it and be able to express themselves freely or break away from strict parental guidance and so I wasn’t surprised with the turnout. Eventually, we picked 20 and bused them to the Holy Trinity Spa and Health Farm in Sogakope for the grooming session. After what seemed like a rather short weekend, the numbers had to be cut down and as host, it was my duty to relay the sad information to the 4 ladies to be cut out. As a member of the team as well, I must say that one of the most difficult parts of the show is eviction. The judges and or organizers always find it so difficult to choose who should go home because of how badly the ladies want this opportunity and sometimes because there’s just a little gap between their performances. Another tug of war is the inability to predict who could be transformed for the better especially amongst the poorly performing ones because trust me some of the timidest ones by the end of the pageant become so transformed its almost impossible to believe they were the same girls who walked into the pageant as green horns. I guess that is a winning factor for Miss Malaika Ghana.

Final 16 were selected and the competition began. They went through different phases of grooming, from public speaking sessions, to talent training, along with various tasks that brought out their best qualities. All through, I was there with them watching as they became better persons, their improvement rubbed off me as I learnt a thing or two. Due to the nature of my job, I recorded mostly on weekends and that clearly meant I didn’t have my weekends to myself for some weeks but I never complained. If there’s anything I’ve been really excited about hosting, it would have to be Miss Malaika. My attachment to this show has clearly been because of my history with the pageant and how it transformed my life and made me the person I am today and I always hope it does same for the delegates in the subsequent years. The tasks ranged from Miss Fitness to the Cultural Episode, The Charity Task that took us to the Royal Seed Orphanage to donate and spend a day with the orphans and sick children (and by the way, the delegates raised the highest amount in the history of the pageant), The Fashion Show, and more. I noticed a few potential winners and even though in most cases, the ones tipped to win actually do, this year’s case was quite different. It’s what we call ‘fear the quiet and unassuming ones.’ Let’s go to the finals, shall we?

Now back to me…Boy was I tired on the final night. Mind you I had just wrapped up MTN Hitmaker about three days before and the stress had barely said goodbye to my body as I went back to my normal work schedules whiles awaiting the finale of Miss Malaika. I had a terrible cold and cough and the most painful sore throat I had experienced in years and I guess it was due to straining my voice but did I have an excuse? No!! Water was my best friend that night as it was the only soothing remedy for my throat and everytime I stepped on stages, I prayed I wouldn’t cough in-between my takes. Lucky me. Hahahaha….The crowd gets me queasy usually at the beginning of every show but with this one, I got a hold of it and carried on with my duty for the night. I sure hope I impressed. Funny thing however was when I had to announce the top 3. I had gauged the crowd from the beginning (which is very important as a host so you know how to work them) and I could tell most of them were hoping Eleanor would at least make it to the top 3 even though she didn’t get her final answer right. Now on the paper with the final details, her name was absent and for a minute I looked again to be sure I wasn’t drunk (no I am not into alcohol) or high on anything other than water. Lmao!!!!! How was I going to break the news to her fans and well-wishers? Yes it was quite obvious Pearl had swayed the crowd after her final answer so mentioning her name was going to be easy…but Eleanor……..hmmmm.. Slowly I mentioned the winners and their fans went into a frenzy but as I surveyed the crowd, I realized many were disappointed that their golden girl didn’t make it to the top 3 and so was I because she had worked so hard and fought the toughest battle of overcoming her insecurities throughout the show. I felt excited for the ladies but at the same time, sorrow gripped me as I thought of the disappointed delegates, friends and fans especially because i had been in a similar situation and knew how it felt………….but on the brighter side, look at me now, 7 years after losing the crown too? Not winning doesn’t stop you from progressing…In actual fact, it just increases your zeal and capacity to fight with your last breath the next battle that comes your way because you have tasted defeat and know how bitter a pill it is to swallow.

People had noticed one Eleanor Seku for her level of intelligence and eloquence throughout the competition and many were gunning for her victory but fate had a different plan. On the night, she did amazing, answered her first questions pretty well but so did a few others including the eventual winner, Pearl Nyarko- Mensah (the quiet and unassuming lady). As is known, the final pitch and answering of questions mostly determines the winner and Pearl shone at that point with the maturity by which she answered her final question as to whether age was a determining factor for success. That was when people noticed her and realized she could win and she did. Congratulations to her and I think she deserved it. I also had my eyes on Vanessa as well and she didn’t disappoint. All in all, I think our girls gave off their best.

Anyway enough of Miss Malaika. Lets talk Hitmaker now….

Did I think I would ever host MTN Hitmaker? Well sort of (I always have a mental attitude towards work) but I just didn’t think it would happen so fast. I got that call asking if I was up to the task and well you know my answer. With this competition, I was totally new to it because it was going to be the first music reality show I would ever host and the dynamics were totally different from the beauty pageant so I knew I had a lot to learn. Fortunately for me, I was familiar with the production house handling the show so that was a win and Giovanni my co-host was someone I had a good rapport with. I couldn’t join in the scouting process because Miss Malaika Ghana was running concurrently so I only joined when the live shows began. Week 1 wasn’t too great because I had just stepped in, wasn’t sure whether to be too playful or rigid with the crowd and contestants, and whether to play a little with my script or not. I was a little conscious of my look as well because I was working with a new stylist and wasn’t too sure if she understood me well enough. I also barely knew the contestants as this was going to be my first time meeting them so everything was jammed in my head but I still went on there and did my best. My director made me aware of my short comings and encouraged me. Week after week, I went on there with Giovanni and did what I could but I realised I had become more relaxed and familiar with the show so things started getting better. I took my styling into my own hands (I like to be in control most of the time) and I felt much better. The part I hated most was eviction because it’s always sad to see people who want something so bad leave but it’s a very vital part of the competition.

So fast forward to the final night where 4 of the talents had beaten the rest to secure their spot. Expectations were high up in the skies especially for Drew who had remained consistent in the competition. His name was on the lips of many who thought winning was going to be as easy for him as breathing. You could tell her was pretty nervous and unsure of how the night would pan out but he was going to give off his best anyway with his family right beside him. Xali, the only female dancehall contestant just smiled coyly when I asked if she was nervous too. Freda said she felt very charged and excited and was not even slightly nervous and Yaw Berk was in high spirits. So the night began, lights came on and it was action time. Xali set the ball rolling with her performance but failed to impress the crowd and judges. Then came Drew whose performance the judges thought was sub-standard especially for a talent of his calibre…. What was going wrong I thought? Then Freda got on stage and literally ‘spoiled there’…( allow me it’s a slang for impressed)… That’s when the competition really began. Yaw Berk also got on stage and killed it. Drew lost his composure a bit after his first performance and it showed when he went back onstage for his next and final performance for the night. Again, the judges were disappointed but Freda got on and charged the crowd again and it was quite clear at that point who was rally gunning for the grand prize. Again, I had to announce the winners and boy was that a difficult one. The crowd’s favourite from the beginning had failed to clinch the winning title and it was my duty to relay that information to them.As difficult as it seemed, I still went ahead and announced what was given to me, FREDA.

There were mixed reactions with a section of the crowd happy and the other section upset that Freda could use one night to take from drew his ‘birth rite’ but that’s how competitions are. The unassuming ones always surprise the most on the final night. Heard it was a bitter pill for Drew to swallow after having lost and he couldn’t hold back his emotions but I’m glad he’s gotten over it now. At the end of the day, winning really isn’t the only way to succeed.

By Berla Mundi (