D-Day is growing ever closer, with the remaining Survivor contestants struggling |to maintain their ‘shiny happy people’ personas. LARA DE MATOS was on the island when the mama clan dropped in |and spoke to them EXCLUSIVELY about their competing offspring.
Life on Survivor island is notably duller since Shane’s departure and the strain of being holed up at a remote location with people with whom you would otherwise have little in common is clearly taking its toll.
Once seemingly firm friendships are swiftly crumbling, alliances chop and change hour on hour and, to paraphrase Graham, this whole morality issue is getting really annoying now. Which is why a dose of good ol’ family lovin’ couldn’t have come at a better time.
To the armchair critics watching from the comfort of their couch (with full bellies to boot) the family reward that’s become a feature of the Survivor series may appear somewhat contrived.
Okay, so the players haven’t seen their loved ones for three weeks; there are, after all, those who (pardon the pun) survive entire decades living in separate cities/countries/ continents.
But continual lack of sleep and an ever-present feeling of hunger can wreak havoc with your state of mind (just ask the street kids you see at virtually every corner).
Couple that with the concept of having to be on your guard 24/7, surrounded by people whose sole purpose at this point is to bring about your downfall, and it’s easy to understand why those tears and weepy conversations we witnessed are sincere.
MAZIWE: SIVU’S MOM
As someone who had never heard of Survivor, much less watched an episode, Maziwe was understandably concerned when Sivu approached her one beautiful day and announced he had been selected for the show.
“I was worried because he was doing his honours and I didn’t want him to miss his exams,” she explains.
It’s a concern that any parent would share, but in her case it was even more pronounced: a single mother of three children who hails from Khayelitsha, Maziwe never had a full education and Sivu is the first of her family to make it past matric.
“I’m a domestic worker and I didn’t have the money to send Sivu to university. He worked so hard to get a bursary and I was worried he was going to sacrifice his studies.
“But, in the end, I told him if Survivor is what he really wanted to do, you can do it, my son. He is young, he can always go back to studying.”
Set against that backdrop, naturally Maziwe is “over the moon” and “very, very proud” of her eldest son’s success thus far. She believes the same sense of tenacity that has seen him rise above his circumstances is what could very well lead him to victory. And if he does win?
“Ooh, I think he will buy his mommy a very nice house so me and his siblings can live comfortably. The rest, he’d probably invest.”
TAMARA: DAVE’S NIECE
Having never married and with no children of his own, Tamara is, for all intents and purposes, Dave’s “surrogate daughter”.
She was shocked to see him in his thinner, drained-looking state and readily admits, “I’m surprised he’s made it this far,” quickly contextualising her comment by adding: “From the first season, he always said ‘one day, I’m going to enter Survivor and I’m going to win’. It’s one thing him saying it though, but another when you realise he actually stands a good chance of winning at this point.
“He’s a very clever man, he’s got a strong build even for a man of his age and he knows how to manipulate people. I may have doubted my uncle before; watching him play this game, I won’t do that again.”
As for any concerns regarding Dave’s tactics and just how far he would be willing to compromise his morals, Tamara readily declares, “If I were on Survivor, I’d be ruthless. People are different on the game, they have to be.
“So nothing he does would shock me.”
Whether he actually wins or not will also be of little consequence to Dave as far as the cash is concerned.
“He didn’t enter to win the million. Even if he had all the money in the world, he’d still live the way he does, because he’s happy that way.
“He’s not a materialistic person at all. He entered the show because he wants the title of Ultimate Survivor.”
And those kooky one-liners he comes up with?
“Yup, that’s uncle Dave. I just wish he’d let me tweeze those eyebrows. They look like caterpillars!”
MARIE: ZAVION’S MOM
He’s a skilled decathlete (with the muscle definition to prove it) and accustomed to taking on tasks that push him to the very end of his limits. So you would think Zavion’s mother would have no qualms about her son putting himself forward for Survivor.
You’d be wrong. “My immediate reaction was ‘why?’. Why would Zavion want to put himself through this when he already challenges himself to the extreme?”
His obvious physical strength aside, Zavion also happens to be a pro at the social game (or so it seems in the edited version of events we’re privy to), which surely Marie feels should work in his favour? Wrong again.
“I’m actually surprised he’s come this far, precisely because of who he is,” she explains. “He’s got a very strong personality, which can be overpowering. He’s like me – confident and loud, which some people take an immediate dislike to. And of course his physicality can also work against him, because he’s automatically a threat.”
So much so, Marie reveals, that during their pizza-indulging afternoon, Zavion told her he’d held back on a number of the challenges “because he could sense people’s growing animosity towards him”.
As someone who, as a child, was accustomed to winning at all costs, it’s a lesson Zavion had to learn early on in life, “especially when he decided to pursue decathlons. He had to learn that sometimes your own personal goals and your own sense of self is more important than victory”.
This, Marie believes, is one of his key strengths, particularly in a game of this nature: his ability to read people and his uncanny skill at making them feel good about themselves (which makes him a perfect fit for his day job as a wedding planner).
Of great importance to Marie is that her son should “play hard, but with his values intact. I’ve always said to him, Zavion, if you have to tell a lie, rather keep quiet. But that’s a tough one in this game”.
JACKI: GRAHAM’S MOM
Meeting Jacki, it’s easy to under- stand why, despite his model-like looks, Graham remains grounded. Amiable and unassuming, much like her son, Jacki is obviously more comfortable remaining in the background.
“That’s Graham: he’s a very strong person and he enjoys challenges, but he prefers to stand back and look at things from a distance. That’s what makes him a good strategist.” However, she’s also mindful of the fact that this could just as easily work against him.
“He’d rather stand back and let someone else go ahead of him; he always wants to see to the other person’s comfort first.”
Well, Jacki, given Graham’s about-turn when Shane came on to the scene, there hardly seems any danger of that occurring. In fact, ol’ Mr G has become something of a snake himself (albeit still a baby one), even going so far as to vote off his chum, Moyra.
“I suppose I will accept it if Graham lies or something like that, because I believe he will do whatever he feels is best at the time. But I will be a bit shocked if he does something really horrible. I’d still like to think it’s because there would have been a good reason if he does.
“Whether it’s good or bad, I believe he’ll come out a better person, because he’ll have a new experience and he will have grown as a person.”
FAZEELA: ALTAAF’S MOM
Little could Fazeela have known that, on the very evening following our chat, her boy would be heading home. Or to take his seat as the sixth member of the jury, at any rate.
And while Altie (as his fellow contenders affectionately referred to him) might have taken exception to being branded a mommy’s boy, Fazeela readily admits that he is. Which isn’t necessarily to say that he’s accustomed to being perpetually pampered.
“He’s had to endure other challenges before because of his work as a pilot for the military, but from what I’ve seen of him today and the physical state he’s in, this is definitely the ultimate challenge.”
What really got Altaaf’s goat, however, was being branded a spoilt brat. The irony being that his derogatory remarks pertaining to Zavion – “maybe it’s because he’s gay, he didn’t have the balls to come and say it to me” – and his selfish decision to throw the remaining rice into the fire, only served to reinforce that perception.
It was a rather disappointing exit for someone who had striven to maintain a sense of honesty and openness throughout. To his credit though, he has since expressed regret at his words and actions.
Perhaps Altaaf would have done well to heed his mother’s advice earlier on in the game:
“I told him that you can be honest to a point. But at the end of the day, to make one person happy, you’re going to have to lie to another. It doesn’t change who you are. And I said there was going to come a point when you’re going to have to let someone down, because that’s just how it goes if you want to make it to the end.”
Ultimately, the person Altaaf let down was himself.
lWhile Buhle’s mother, Lindiwe, was also on the island at the time, she opted not to speak to Tonight.
lSurvivor SA: Champions, Sunday on M-Net at 5.30pm.