8 Is the greatest… Survivor South Africa season yet.
On Thursday, 3 June, host Nico Panagio (looking bush-ready in a khaki shirt and cap) returns to welcome 20 new Castaways to South Africa’s remote Wild Coast bush in the Eastern Cape, where they will battle to outwit, outplay and outlast each other in its jungles and beaches over the course of 39 days, in Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island S8.
There are snakes and skulls everywhere. The Tribal Council area features the gnarled and bleached remains of ancient trees and driftwood, with skulls scattered about, including this season’s symbol, a realistic, woven vegetable fibre skull with a metal snake slithering above the top and through the eye sockets. The urn that’ll contain the contestants’ votes has handles in the shape of a snake’s body. And the Survivors’ torches are topped with a snake wrapped around a skull, with the snake looping through the eye sockets. The hiss of death awaits around every corner with these ruthless Castaways.
It’s sure to be an interesting season as the field is packed with strategic-minded players. While only 1 of the men has listed being underestimated as part of his strategy, 4 of the women have worked it into their gameplan, so we’ll see how that works out for them. There are clowns and rogues, a pirate, a man who is apparently also a box, a poppie, a guy who’s like water and more. If you’re confused… keep reading. It’s time to meet this season’s Survivors as they let their egos run wild.
Survivor SA S8 Ep1 Open Window
To celebrate the premiere of the most highly-anticipated season of Survivor South Africa yet, M-Net is opening Survivor SA S8 Episode 1 to DStv Compact Plus and Compact customers. Tune in to the premiere episode on M-Net channel 915 at 19:30 on Thursday, 3 June 2021 to catch all of the action.
Meet the Castaways
The 20 contestants, aged between 24 and 39, will later be split into tribes Vuna (traffic cone orange) and Zamba (Granny Smith apple green). The cast and crew recorded the show between November and December 2020 in their COVID-19 safe production bubble.
Anesu Mbizvo(28-year-old vegan lifestyle entrepreneur) The first thing that Anesu packed to take to Survivor was her mala beads. “I’m an avid meditator and set myself a goal of being present and meditating every day while being in the game,” she says. “My meditation beads are my anchor”. She has gone all-out to physically prepare for the game including practicing Kundalini Yoga to improve her mental fortitude and endurance, doing puzzles and mind games, embarking on intermittent fasting and she added swimming, balancing exercises and endurance training to her regular exercise routine. “I’m a born leader, I am super athletic, I am very competitive, and I don’t want people to know that about me at all. When people ask me, ‘Why Survivor?’, my answer is always, ‘Why not?’ Growth comes from pushing yourself, and from challenging yourself to do your best, and I don’t think there’s any greater challenge than Survivor. The most important aspect of Survivor is the mental game, maintaining a strong and present mind is huge in this game, and I think that if you have a good mental game, that feeds into all of the others. I am doctor vegan hippie, and I am ready to be underestimated. The only thing that I am going to kill is this game,” says Anesu.
Tyson Zulu(24-year-old entrepreneur) Tyson loves animals more than people, which could play to his advantage as the game strips the veneer of civilization from the hungry, ambitious Castaways. He’s keen to be on Survivor not just to challenge himself, but to check it out from the production side. “I want to be a big player in the Film & TV industry and learning, first-hand, from the biggest show in the country is a massive opportunity,” he says. Tyson focussed on fitness in the run-up to the season and reveals that Tony Vlachos (winner of Survivor: Cagayan and Survivor: Winners at War) is his favourite player, “because he played an inventive game. It always seemed like he was thinking ahead, with an unorthodox approach that made a lot of people nervous.” “3 words that best describe Tyson would be stubborn, unorthodox, and charming. Outside in life itself I feel like I am running out of challenges, so this is the next best thing to test myself. I am always swimming against the grain. In a game like Survivor, I will backstab people if that’s what I have to do. I am able to deal with any kind of person from any background, adapting is my biggest strength. They say adversity introduces a man to himself, and if there is any truth to that statement, I am about to be introduced to greatness,” says Tyson.
Francois “Chappies” Chapman(31-year-old transformation coach) Chappies is a speak-before-you-think kind of guy and he’s concerned that his confidence could come across as arrogance, but he’s planning to surround himself with the best strategic and social players. The first thing that Chappies packed in his little Survivor suitcase was his orange speedo costume. He’s watched many Survivor seasons with his wife and lists Tony Vlachos (winner of Survivor: Cagayan and Survivor: Winners at War) and David Genat (Australian Survivor: All Stars winner) as his all-time favourite players. “I am the Sole Survivor of season 8, welcome to my journey on claiming the title, and fasten your seatbelts, because this is going to be a hectic ride. For a person to win Survivor, you’ve got to be well balanced. If I am best at 1 thing, it’s probably at being a well-balanced individual. I am addicted to growth. Growing overall in life satisfies me, and I believe if you stop growing, you actually die. A lot of people try and put me in a box, but what they don’t realise is that I am the box! And I change in size and colour as needed in order to achieve the objective at hand,” says Chappies.
Santoni Engelbrecht(39-year-old online shop owner) It was 4th time lucky for Santoni, as her Survivor auditions finally paid off. “I love the dynamics of the show and always wanted to enter. I’m such a ‘non-Survivor-looking person’ and I wanted to show people that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” she says. “I also wanted to go through the process of being cold, hungry etc. to have a better idea of what the majority of South Africans are faced with daily, so that I can hopefully use the Survivor experience to do some good in the world”. The first thing that went into her Survivor suitcase was her tie-dyed T-shirt. And she prepared for the game by cutting sugar and coffee out of her diet and quitting smoking. “I believe in karma, so I want to keep myself to this moral code – to not do to someone else what I don’t want to be done to me. But it’s Survivor, so you never know, and I want to win. I am able to keep my emotions under control. This emotional redhead can actually explode if she wants to, and it will cause chaos! I’ve learnt to mute it a little bit. It’s going to not sound good, but I want to align with men, because men aren't so full of nonsense. I am very strong willed. I don’t like people bullying me. That is my strategy – kill them with kindness and love, but behind the scenes, I have a lot of plans,” says Santoni.
Noleen “Pinty” Nkanjeni(30-year-old rope access technician) “Growing up and to this day, my family call me ‘Pint-size’ or ‘Pinty’, which has become the name I am known by. My old lady only refers to me as ‘Noleen’ when I’m in her bad books,” says Pinty, who calls herself a “Janet of All Trades”. She’s been a Survivor fanatic since her school days. “Having a love for nature and every sport or activity that was for the boys, my friends have always made jokes about how good I would be on the show and to watch on TV,” she says. The first things she packed were her flipflops and bucket hat. “If I could wear my slops all year round I would. Winters have proved quite challenging for my toes,” she admits. “I’d like to play an honest game because for me, honesty is the best policy. I want people to always know where they stand with me, and I also always want to know where I stand with people. I think what it takes to win Survivor is being physically fit so you can play challenges, to have some sort of social intellect when it comes to understanding and reading people, and also just to have resilience when it comes to being outside, and not being afraid to challenge yourself. Flexibility, adaptability and trustworthiness is my game,” says Pinty.
Shaun Wilson(40-year-old IT business owner) While Shaun gives a nod to the Survivor greats Parvatti Shallow and Boston Rob, his favourite players are Mike Holloway (winner of Survivor: Worlds Apart) for being “up against it all” and David Genat (Australian Survivor: All Stars winner) because “he played the perfect game”. Dog lover Shaun has brought along the tag from his recently passed dog Penny’s collar, as a piece of home to remind him not to lose track of who he is. “My strategy is to go in and be mischievous and have some fun – but maybe I’ll come across as ‘the crazy old guy,” this season’s oldest castaway jokes. “Don’t put your morals on the Island, leave them at home. We’re all here to play a game. If you’ve ever played Apex or Fortnite (computer games), there are no friends, only enemies. Be deceptive, be naughty, and if you’re pushing people’s emotional buttons, you’re outwitting, it’s as simple as that. Survivor: Immunity Island plays to the advantage that there are Idols. Hopefully I am going to find some because I am not going to give up. I am going to fall over trees, I am going to hurt myself trying to find Idols. The game of Survivor to me is to give people a perception of who they want me to be. I will be focussing on the situations at hand and playing them one at a time,” says Shaun.
Paul Cupido(29-year-old aftercare teacher) Survivor fans, Paul is “very single”, so this season is also his Tinder bio. The social experiment side of Survivor intrigues him. His favourite player was Survivor SA’s own Rob Bentele, “because of the way he played a great social game, great strategic game and a well-rounded player in all aspects”. The first thing he packed was his sarong, and he then spent some time reading books on manipulation, and he claims that he trained every day, “like a triathlete”. But there’s one line that he won’t cross in Survivor: hunting and killing anything is 100% out. “I’m looking to exploit the pros of the Island by finding the Immunity Idols and winning Immunity challenges. I am also looking to play a strong and social game. I think in the beginning stages, I am going to keep quiet and to myself and be a strong team player, but as the game moves on you’ll see the more outspoken Paul who really gets on people’s nerves a bit. I am annoyed by people who don’t put their best foot forward and aren’t honest about their capabilities. I can run fast, I am relatively strong for my size, I can swim pretty far. I would say my physical game is sound. Not many people know this, but I used to be a chef, so I am very good at operating the chopping block, and that’s where I’ll send most of my contestants to,” says Paul.
Amy Eliason(33-year-old corporate lawyer) Amy’s favourite saying is, “Don’t take life too seriously. None of us are getting out alive, anyway”. She loves red wine and a braai, and entered Survivor on a whim...with the wine stains still on her teeth, but she’s now determined to prove herself. Amy’s strategy going into the game is to keep under the radar and to build strong alliances with other castaways who could be perceived as bigger threats in the game than her. “I truly believe that one of the keys to winning Survivor is to be good but not THAT good,” she says. “I win poker often. I love beating men in a game of poker. They hate that, and I think that Survivor is going to be no different. My strategy to win Survivor is to come in slow. I’m not going to be one of the big personalities to begin with. I am going to suss out the other players, see where I fit in in the group, and then slowly work my way to the top of the ranks as the weeks go by. If you’re not mentally strong enough, you’re not going to Survive, if you’re not physically strong enough, you’re going to have a hard time. The difference between winning and losing is your social game. Survivor is the ultimate trial of courage, wit, compassion and ingenuity, and I am here to testify,” says Amy.
Thoriso M-Afrika(36-year-old marketing officer) I’ll stand out as an anomaly on the show because I wouldn’t be caught dead camping, am a creature of comfort and would probably die if I ever did something like this alone,” jokes Thoriso, who’s hoping that being great company will make her fellow Castaways want to keep her around. To prepare for the game, she listened to podcasts analysing different methods of playing – and the first thing she packed was her dungarees, because they’re comfortable. She insists that the only line she won't cross is attacking another player’s character to win the game.” “I am going to win Survivor by being as ruthless as Sandra (Diaz-Twine, winner of both Pearl Island and Heroes vs Villains), and having a killer social game like Cirie (Fields, considered 1 of the best players never to win after competing in 4 different seasons). People say it’s only a game to minimise the impact of their bad decisions, and to forgive themselves for what they consider unethical. That’s (nonsense),to be honest. Emotional intelligence is such a critical aspect in navigating your way through a game like Survivor. It would mean a lot to me if a woman won Survivor – of course this woman! Because this woman would shatter every single stereotype that people have around this game. I am here to win, and if you’re going to argue with me, make sure you’re right,” says Thoriso.
Mike Laws(32-year-old advocate) The guys with the best name and career match of the season, Mike says, “Survivor is the ultimate game of human chess and I’m excited to see if I can play the game skilfully, while still having some fun”. His favourite player is Zeke Smith from Survivor Millennials vs Gen-X, because “he was strategic, funny, kind and had great style”. While Mike is not afraid of being the bad guy, he believes that “racism, sexism, homophobia and the like, are not acceptable in the game”. The first thing he packed in his travel bag was the red bandana he got as a kid, the first time he watched Survivor. “On the Island I am going to be the charming rogue with a cheeky secret. I entered Survivor because I am the ultimate City Boy, White Collar Yuppie, and I guess there’s a bit of me that wanted to see if i can actually survive in the wild, and not just the corporate boardroom. You get 2 types of villains: Mean, malicious villains, and then you get villains who seem like they just want to have a good time, like a pirate. I guess I am slightly more on the pirate end of the villain spectrum. A bit of ‘aargh’ in me, you know. My secret weapon is my ability to listen and make someone feel like they have been heard. And lying, lots of lying,” says Mike.
Anela Majozi(25-year-old rugby coach) “Typical Gemini” Anela’s favourite Survivor castaways are Russell Hantz (Survivor Samoa, Heroes vs Villains, Redemption Island, and Australian Survivor: Champions vs Contenders) and fellow “proud Zulu boy” Rob Bentele from Survivor South Africa. “Russell made for a really entertaining watch. If I am to be perceived by the public as this season’s villain, is the kind of villain I’ll want to portray,” he says. “Rob had an influence on others which I’d love to emulate in my season”. “To win Survivor, I think it takes a relentless resilience and you also need to allow for a little flexibility in your game. Part of my job as a rugby coach is to be tactical, strategic, and to motivate others to get the best out of them, which I believe is the perfect recipe. I believe that I am going to win Survivor. Winners win and it’s an everyday thing, so I don’t say that lightly. I have conditioned myself to be that way, to think that way. And I know that I have what it takes to win. Charm and athleticism will only take you so far in this game. To win it requires an unbreakable will, and an unwavering resilience, which I have both of,” says Anele.
Nicole Wilmans(26-year-old digital marketer) Shopaholic Nicole will have to leave her favourite hobby behind for now. But that doesn’t mean she can’t indulge herself. The first thing that she packed was her bikini, so she could get that “Survivor Glow”. She adds, “I genuinely feel like I was born to play the game, so I think I had mentally and physically always been preparing myself. Although you can’t really prepare yourself for how crazy it is, how hungry you are and how intense it is, the fact that I had wanted to play since forever meant that I looked to take everything in my stride”. “When people see me for the first time, generally the first thing they think is aw, she is scared of breaking a nail or whatever. Being perceived as a poppie will actually benefit me in my game because people will underestimate me, and I can definitely use that to my advantage. It’s important to read the people that you are among and draw out their strengths and weaknesses and use that to your advantage. I will be the sole Survivor because I perceive myself as a chameleon, and I can adjust to situations as needs be. I am not afraid to backstab people, I’m not afraid to play big moves, and I think that will stand me in good stead. I’ve got more tricks up my sleeve than my pearly whites,” says Nicole.
Carla Gubb(28-year-old corporate salesperson) “I am a self-proclaimed student of the game and super-fan. I wanted to push myself to physical and mental limits because my life so far has prepared me for this ultimate test of self,” says Carla. Her favourite players are Boston Rob from Survivor USA, David Genat (Survivor Australia) and Rick Devens from Survivor: Edge of Extinction (EoE). “Nobody who comes back from EoE, finds three idols, wins four immunity challenges doesn’t deserve the million. He’s a laugh-a-minute and I can’t wait to see him play again in a future season, or even play with him one day…a girl can dream!” she adds. “I don’t think you win, I think you earn the title of Survivor; outwitting, outplaying, outlasting. I think social always prevails. Deceiving and lying does not speak to my moral compass, and they’re definitely going to underestimate me because the first time you see me you don’t think that I am a student of the game and I know what I am doing. You would think I am a ditz, but I am not. But then I thought I can’t pretend to be something that I am not. I think my greatest strength on the Island is going to be my social game. And I think my mind as well, the focus that I’ve got, the determination is going to get me to the end. I am the undercover blonde superfan, alpha female, badass,” says Carla.
Jason Brookstein(27-year-old structural engineering draftsman) There’s nothing that Jason loves more than a trip to the barbershop but he knows he won’t be getting any pampering on Survivor, so the first thing that he packed was some hair elastics. “I’m a crazy wildling, I’m Tarzan’s lost brother. Expect tree swinging, confused facial expressions and glorious hair flips,” says Jason. Joe Anglim (Survivor Worlds Apart, Cambodia, and Edge Of Extinction), Ozzy Lusth (Survivor Cook Islands, Micronesia, South Pacific and Game Changers, and Sarah Lacina (Survivor Cagayan, Game Changers – which she won – and Winners At War) are his favourite-ever Survivor players. “Survivor is not the place to find yourself, it’s a place to win. It’s a cutthroat game, kill or get killed. At times I am a devious person and I will do anything to see myself on top, and I won’t stop until I am the last person standing. I am a student of this game, I know what it takes to win Survivor. You need to pick yourself up from the bottom, drag yourself to the top. It’s all mental, and you need to be ready for that. As a fan of this game, we all have our favourite players and for me to leave a mark for a kid to say that Jason is his favourite player – done and dusted, I am cloud 9, that is my goal on Survivor. I’m going to float like a butterfly, I’m going to sting like a bee, my castaways can’t hit what their eyes can’t see. All of them are going to bow when I am done with them,” says Jason.
Renier Louwrens(30-year-old chemical engineer) Survivor is one of Renier’s favourite topics of conversation with his wife, they love dissecting the seasons’ strategies together. And together they’ve been playing a “What if” game for years to figure out what his best game strategy could be. Aside from refusing to compromise his Christianity, Renier insists that there are 3 things he’d never do in the game: vote out a strong physical player before Merge, play an Idol for someone else, and forfeit a challenge. “Those three things just go against every Survivor grain in my body,” he says. “I’ll go head-to-head with any Survivor fan right at this moment in a piece of Survivor trivia and I know I will come out on top. I am the ultimate fan of this game. There are stereotypes of engineers and 1 of the things that you generally get stereotyped as is, this is the strategic player. But I back myself physically to be right up there competing with the best. I brought along Inside Renier, who is very strategical and can summarise the game in a heartbeat, and also Outside Renier. Outside Renier will do all the playing down the threat level. I don’t know how the next 39 days are going to play out, but 1 thing I do know is that I am the ultimate fan of the ultimate game, and this is my time to play,” says Renier.
Kiran Naidoo(29-year-old strategy consultant) Kiran is taking this seriously. “Playing ‘for fun’ is quite literally the most annoying concept in the world,” he insists. “I am a superfan! Survivor has been my favourite show on TV since I was 9 years old – it has always been a dream of mine to get on to the show and see how good a player I could potentially be!” Kiran’s hoping that some time in the bush will trim him down again, too. “I ate tons of food to put on a few kilos to insulate myself. I read a few books on decision making and notably reread Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, for his insight into the human condition”. “The more people expect you to lie, the less they trust you, so if I could just lie when it’s necessary, and very subtly, I think that will take me further in the game than lying for the sake of lying. The aspect of my life that would give me an upper hand at winning Survivor would be the fact that I am a strategy consultant. My daily life is to think ahead, and to think 3 steps ahead of our clients, and it’s those techniques that I will bring to the game. I am usually underestimated in life. In the game, I think that is going to be my biggest strength. 1 of the most dangerous things you could have in the game is going in with a fixed strategy or expecting something and forcing a strategy or way of thinking into the game, so I am going in without any strategic baggage. Underestimate me gladly, I will leap from behind,” says Kiran
Marisha du Plessis(35-year-old guest house owner) Marisha’s favourite players are Steffi Brink and Rocco van Rooyen (both from Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets). “She was great and played a good, strong game,” says Marisha, while describing Rocco as “so nice outjie”. She prepared by watching plenty of seasons of Survivor and carrying on with her normal routine of training & eating healthily. “I am a machine when it comes to challenges and I have a lot of jokes,” she says. She also wants to prove that anyone can win Survivor. “I am ‘just a girl’. There is nothing out of this world about me, you all can do this”. “People perceive me as someone who doesn’t lose. I am definitely very competitive. I do not enjoy losing. In this game, it will be difficult for me to lose and not blame it on someone, or on myself. I am on Survivor to do it for my daughters, to show them that you don’t have to be in your box. I don’t just have to be a farmer’s wife. I am really going into this open minded. I am good with the physical aspect of the game, and social would be my second option. I am not just your average farm wife. I don’t go with the flow, and I am here to win,” says Marisha.
Dino Paulo(30-year-old live escape game owner) Dino describes himself as a loud, competitive man-child who just wants to be friends with everyone. “Owning a Live Escape Game business and enjoying problem and puzzle solving could come in very handy in the game,” he says. “I practiced making fire with flint and coconut husk. I studied a lot of past challenges and considered the best strategies behind them as well as practicing a number of different puzzle types”. He loves how unpredictable Survivor is as a game. “There is no right or wrong way to play, no blueprint for success or guaranteed way to win. I get goosebumps thinking about how it is both so complex yet so simple!” “I love adrenaline, that’s why I skydive and I think this game is going to provide a unique rush. I think I am a nice guy. When it comes to the competition, I am either going to prove that nice guys don’t finish last, or I am not as nice as I think I am. Here’s the thing, you’ve got to build really, really good relationships, otherwise you’ll get nowhere in this game. Treat everybody as if they are smarter than you, that’s the only way you’ll ever stay one step ahead. There are so many similarities with poker and Survivor. There’s the element of luck in both games, and you’ve just got to play the game in such a way that the luck falls in your favour. I am not a well-educated man, but don’t mistake my lack of a university degree for a lack of intelligence, man. I’ve got a Masters in the Art of Hustling from the School of Life, and I definitely plan on using that to my advantage,” says Dino
Qieӓn(35-year-old ”funemployed” volunteer firefighter) Her name is pronounced “Key-hahn”, she was born in Taiwan, lives in South Africa and she’s a Survivor superfan. Her favourite castaway is Yul Kwon from Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: Winners at War, because she “resonates with him as a human being”. Open Qieӓn’s bag and you’ll find the first thing she packed for Survivor: her clear quartz crystal, to help keep up her positive energy. She prepared for the season by watching multiple seasons of Survivor SA and the US version, along with playing the Survivor Puzzle App on her iPad and learning how to make fire. But watch out if you are already underestimating her. “I am playing the greatest game on Earth, Survivor. How adaptable are you as a human being? Can you be like water and be able to mould into any instrument that you are placed into? Your emotional quotient and your adaptability quotient is critical to be able to endure. How I am going to win Survivor is staying grounded. Speaking my truth is very important, and praying to the Survivor gods that things will work out as it’s meant to be. I was born to be like water, and in deep oceans, I thrive,” says Qieӓn.
Watch Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island S8 from Thursday, 3 June on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 19:30
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