Media personality Khanyi Mbau Picture: Supplied
Can you keep a secret? Most of the people who appear on BET Africa’s newest show, The Big Secret, which debuts tonight, have become pros at keeping theirs.

But now, with Khanyi Mbau walking them through the process, they get to tell their darkest secrets and get a weight lifted off their chests.

I had the privilege of watching the first episode and must say the creators of The Big Secret have done a great job of creating and maintaining the suspense factor.

Last night a man who has kept a secret from his teenage years must come clean to his mother and his brother.

But can he do it?

Watching Mbau treat this man with a familial gentleness was a layer I hadn’t really seen from the actress and media personality.

So I had to ask her why she wanted to be involved in this 13-part programme.

“I’ve never been a big fan of celebrities doing charity work for the sake of public relations or try follow a trend,” Mbau started.

“I chose to do the show because, for me, it was a way to give back and give other people a chance to free themselves.

“I understand how it feels to be misunderstood and not be given a chance to express myself the way I would have loved to.

“So when (the show) came to me, I thought that this is probably the universe saying: ‘Now it’s time for you to heal people because, through your journey, you’ve learnt and seen life and life hasn’t been great.

“This is my way of giving back and saying thank you by allowing people to be themselves and to free themselves,” the presenter said.

In the first episode, the man seems to be troubled by his secret, but through talking to Mbau one gets a sense that she makes him comfortable enough to share.

So I asked Mbau if she opened up about her own experiences in order to put the confessor at ease.

“From time to time I share my experiences, but I try not to make it about me or make it preachy.

“I think people are comfortable to talk to me about their secrets because they’ve seen me go through the worst and it’s always easier speaking to a sinner because they won’t judge you.”

Throughout the episode, and undoubtedly the season, Mbau makes it clear that she is not a psychologist or a life coach. She is merely there to support the person who has to get a boulder off their chest.

It is important for Mbau to mention this as her credentials as someone who can counsel another are likely to be questioned.

But she’s not worried about that. “Someone will always have an opinion,” she said nonchalantly. That’s just the nature of our business and I’m not worried about that.”

Unlike other emotainment (new word alert!) shows, counselling is not offered up front on The Big Secret.

Maybe in later episodes it will become a fixed feature, but this time around the family had to ask if they could get some help.

That is the only critique for what seems like a predominantly cathartic show for the confessor and maybe even for viewers who may have a similar secret.

The show which premiered on Wednesday night, received a mixed reaction on Twitter:

* The Big Secret air on BET (DStv Channel 129) 9.30pm.

uHelenH