The name Rita Isoken Igbinedion may not be instantly familiar, but Rita Koko Mansion would definitely ring a bell. If not for anything; at least for all the grammatical bombshells she detonated while the TV reality show was on. Till now, many still have her hilarious scenes on Koko Mansion on their mobile phones – it’s even all over YouTube.
Igbinedion may not have emerged the winner of Koko Mansion but her ‘outstanding’ use of the English Language stole the shine from the winner who has since gone into obscurity.
In this interview with NET, Rita confesses that her English Language deficiency can be blamed on her bumpy educational background. Interestingly, while preparing to start her University education; she is looking forward to hosting her own TV show this year (EDUCATING WITH RITA).
You became popular through the Koko mansion platform, how did you get on the show?
I got to know about Koko Mansion through a family friend when I just had my hair cut. He told me it was D’banj‘s show; quite similar to the Big Brother Show and he would like me to be involved. I told him I wasn’t interested in stardom and couldn’t even afford to purchase the form that cost N5000. So I went on to tell my best friend who gave me N7000 and said I must participate in the program. I headed straight to GT Bank to purchase the form, filled and returned it. I was later informed that I had been selected for the auditions and was to report to Lagos. I was a little discouraged because I had never been to Lagos or known anything about the City, but I was told my flight had been booked so I just gave it a try. When I got to Lagos, they came to pick me at the airport. I can’t lie to you. I was very happy. I didn’t even know that the other girls were there with me, I thought I was the only one they came to pick. The next day I saw different people when I went for the interview before I was finally selected among the housemates. So I went back home to prepare; but they never got back to me for almost three months. I almost gave up again. I even called them but they never responded. I then made up my mind that if they really wanted me, they would call me. The day I deleted their number from my phone was the day they called me.
Take us through your Family background?
I was born on March 3, 1990. I’m from an average family of eight and we all live in Benin, Edo State. I am the fourth child of six children and the last girl. My family consists of three boys and three girls.
How about your Educational background?
I dropped out of school when I was in SS3 in order to participate in Koko Mansion. At the end of the show, I went back to write my SSCE exams. So hopefully this year I would be admitted into Igbinedion University, Okada to study Political Science.
After Koko Mansion, what have you been doing?
I have been working on my project.
It’s going to be a reality TV show tagged ‘EDUCATING WITH RITA‘.
What exactly is it all about?
It’s just a show where Rita would be trying to educate young ones out there. The production would start soon but there is no definite time and date yet because we’re still trying to sort out many things, hopefully this year things should start off. I don’t want to reveal too much about it now.
Did you release any song titled ‘Call the EFCC’ Immediately after Koko Mansion?
No, I didn’t release any song; it was all pranks made by some set of people. I don’t even know how to sing.
Aside the Reality Show, do you have plans for any other aspect of entertainment?
No, not really but for now it’s just the show that is on my mind.
Since you’ll be resuming at the University this year, don’t you think it would clash with the Show?
Those are part of the things we are working on. By the time we’re through, there won’t be any clash and it will surely work out. There will be no distractions.
Even the winner of Koko mansion ‘Bolanle’ did not gain as much popularity as you did, why is this so?
I think it’s because of the way I presented myself out there because I’m from a responsible home. Secondly I think it’s because of all the ‘EFCC under Yahoo Yahoo’ that I said which was recorded as a video and spread all around. Since then people have been curious to know who Rita is.
Many people who watched Koko Mansion noted you for grammatical blunders like ‘Nigeria are not safety enough‘ and ‘EFCC under Yahoo Yahoo’. Was that the best way you could express yourself?
That was not the best way I could express myself. Most times it was due to pressure. That ‘EFCC under yahoo yahoo‘ line that I said was not meant that way. There was a chart drawn on the board which had EFCC written under Yahoo Yahoo, so when one of the instructors asked where I got EFCC from I said ‘EFCC is under yahoo yahoo‘ as shown on the board. People were just screaming without knowing what actually went down. When I even saw the video, I was like this is not me; I never said all that but right now I no longer care.
Did you feel discouraged at any point in time?
No, why would I? I was just expressing myself. Since I know I have a future that lies ahead of me, why would I be discouraged?
Recently, your grammatical blunders were transferred to Twitter with several retweets. Don’t you agree that they may be correct in regarding you as a semi-illiterate?
Well, I agree with what anyone says. Even if they say I’m a complete illiterate, I agree. At the end of the day what matters is who Rita is going to be not what she was. Is she going to be a good mother? Is she going to a good role model to the youths? Is she going to be an ideal woman These are the things that matter the most. As for the tweets, I don’t even own a twitter account; maybe it’s just someone playing pranks. People can say whatever they like. I don’t give a f**k.
What could you attribute all your grammatical blunders to?
I think it’s because I stopped school for a while.
How are your sibling’s educational background compared to yours?
I think they are far better than me because they’re really trying. My younger ones are still in secondary school and my elder ones have all graduated from the University.
The purpose of Koko Mansion was to identify an ‘Ideal Nigerian’ woman. Even though you eventually lost out, do you think you fit that position?
I fit the position then and more so now, I think I still do but I’m still learning. The only problem I had was my education, but as for other aspects I am an ideal woman.
What were the lessons you learnt during your stay in Koko Mansion?
I learnt a whole lot. Before I didn’t know how to comport myself, I didn’t know how to talk to people because I am a shy person but now I can do all these confidently. I also learnt how to dress well; as you can see I’m putting on a white top, a white footwear should never go on it. I’m a much better person now than before.
Was there any scuffle between you and anyone in the house, then?
Yes it was between me and a girl called Isi. She wasn’t even a member of the house; she just came for a visit. I can’t really remember what exactly happened but I know she insulted my parents and referred to me as an illiterate at several instances. I initially kept quiet but when it was becoming continuous I had to reply her, because I would not have anyone insult my parents in my presence. It was after a while I discovered that she was just visiting.
Of all the housemates, which of them do you miss and why?
I don’t actually pray to be like anyone of them; I intend to be better than them. Most of them were pretending to be perfect but they are not who they claim to be. But I can remember that I learnt a lot from Bolanle (winner). She was my very good friend. I just tried to ignore most of them. If they like me, fine, and if they don’t like me, I don’t care either. I prefer to be shot than see you reign insults on my family. Even if I get married now, I can’t even give my husband the right to insult my younger ones not to talk of my parents.
Among those that visited the Koko Mansion, which of them had the greatest impact on you?
I learn a lot from Bukky, the Yoruba actress and Funke Akindele who was just hilarious. They both taught me how to be responsible in the home.
Do you have a boyfriend?
I had a boyfriend then but I no longer have. I’m single and not searching. We broke up few months before the Koko Mansion but since I got back, he’s been begging me that he wants me back. As a lady I’m trying to prove hard to get. I may eventually give him a chance but I haven’t decided.
What does he do?
While we were together he was serving but he just concluded his Masters program. He was my first boyfriend.
Despite your grammatical blunders, if you had the chance of returning to the Koko Mansion, how would you react?
I went there the first time and survived so if I go a second time I would still survive. So, I have no fears.