If your yard, street, ward, township, crÃ¨che, nursery, primary, secondary or university (or whatever the association you might be in currently) has not put together a â€œBeauty Pageantâ€ then you my dear reader sit on the rear pews of modern development in Nigerian present contexture. It is so common and with each new Pageant organized, the next is worse than the previous. I just read up an article about â€œThe Alarming Rise of Beauty Pageants in Nigeriaâ€ and as I ran through the contents, I couldnâ€™t help but support the writerâ€™s position even though I typed this title long before I read up the article. But before we look through that, here is a brief history of Beauty Pageants in Nigeria
Daily Times newspaper started beauty pageantry in Nigeria with Miss Nigeria and thus owned the franchise. Miss Nigeria started as a photo contest in 1957. Contestants posted their photographs to the Daily Times headquarters in Lagos, where finalists were shortlisted. Successful candidates were invited to compete in the live finals, which at the time did not include the swimsuit segment at the Lagos Island Club. UAC employee, Grace Oyelude, won the maiden edition of Miss Nigeria. She reportedly used part of her Â£200 prize money to travel to England and studied Nursing. Contrary to popular belief, Julie Coker was not the first Miss Nigeria â€“ she was Miss Western Nigeria but used the â€˜Miss Nigeriaâ€™ title during official engagements aboard. However, she competed in the contest the year after Oyeludeâ€™s reign, losing out to secretarial student, Helen Anyamaeluna. Former seamstress, Nene Etule remains the only non-Nigerian to have won the contest; she was eligible as Southern Cameroon was under Nigerian constitution in 1959. The following year the contest was briefly renamed â€˜Miss Independenceâ€™ to commemorate the countryâ€™s Independence from Britian, and the winner Rosemary Anieze was crowned. The 60s saw Miss Nigeria competing at international level. Yemi Idowu, who won the contest in 1962, was a semi-finalist at Miss United Nations 1963. Her successor, salesgirl Edna Park, was the first Nigerian at Miss Universe in 1964, and is best remembered for disrupting the show by collapsing after failing to reach the top15 spot. Park was carried away by policemen and contest officials before spending the night in a Miami hospital under sedation, where she was consoled by Nneka Onyegbula, wife of the Nigerian ambassador, who reportedly said: â€œAll the judges are white and they arenâ€™t really competent to judge a dark girlâ€™s beautyâ€. After Park, no other Miss Nigeria competed in Miss Universe. Rosaline Balogun became the first official Miss Nigeria at Miss World in 1967.
Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, also known as MBGN, is a pageant organised by Silverbird Group with the aim of sending representatives to international competitions. Originally known as Miss Universe Nigeria, it was renamed Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria after Daily Times lost its license to send delegates from rival contest Miss Nigeria to Miss World and Miss Universe. Silverbird boss, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce promoted a new pageant known as Miss Universe Nigeria in 1983, but it only gained public attention in 1986 after it changed its name to Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 1986, and its maiden winner was model Lynda Chuba. In 2007, Silverbird announced that the pageant would produce four more representatives besides the winner. The original titles were Miss MBGN Universe (to represent at Miss Universe); MBGN Tourism (Miss Tourism International), and MBGN Ecowas (Miss ECOWAS). A fifth title â€“ MBGN Model â€“ which allowed its holder to compete in modelling contests at international level, was dropped and replaced with MBGN Ambassador, with its winner performing ceremonial duties in the country. MBGN winner in 2011, Agbani Darego emerged Miss World in 2011.
Now the article:
It is alarming indeed the sudden rise of beauty pageants in Nigeria. Once upon a time, pageants were a thing of pride, beauty and definitely something participants would hold in high esteem and non-participants would long to partake. Now what do we have? We have pageants like Miss Ultimate Nigeria, Miss Dazzle Nigeria, Miss VIP Nigeria, Queen of Trust Nigeria and a host of others. A bunch of irrelevant and inconsequential gatherings of 15 to 20 females where the winner gets a car, cash prize and recognition as the Miss, Face or Queen of whatever the organizers deem fit.
remember back in University, every weekend someone would come into our
hostel and distribute flyers asking us to purchase their pageant forms
and stand a chance to win a car and represent Nigeria in an
international competition. And all the girls would be ecstatic as soon
as they heard â€œinternationalâ€.
Some of these forms sold for 3,000 naira others for 5,000 naira and remember a particular one that sold for 10,000 naira â€“ under the guise that if we bought it for that price, we would automatically be placed into the top 5 position at the pageant finale. How ridiculous does that sound? My question is what exactly is the point of these pageants? What morals are they teaching our young girls? I have happened to meet some of these so called â€œbeauty queensâ€ and to be honest; I was quite disappointed at their manner of conduct, dress sense and even manner of speech.
Most of them lack the self confidence and carriage of a Queen and more or less have their managers as their spokesperson. They can barely keep up with a conversation and above all do not even have a goal as to why they even became a beauty queen in the first place.
Funny enough, the winners of these pageants have â€œPet projectsâ€ where they are supposed to give back to communities. How many of us have actually heard of these projects or benefitted from them? So I ask again, what exactly is the point of the entire pageantry if not to pay it forward?
Rumor has it that most of these girls simply use these means to meet the rich and mighty all in the name of getting â€œsponsorsâ€ for their â€œpet projectâ€. Apparently, there is usually an agreement between the Queen and the organizers where the organizers link them up with the rich and mighty sponsors and in exchange, they get 20 or 30% of whatever financial benefit is realized from the link up.
I hate to actually
imagine what goes on during these supposed â€œlink upâ€ but I think we can
all pretty much figure it out. This is probably why becoming a Beauty
Queen is now more or less a â€œcareerâ€ in Nigeria. As you start off from
the bottom and after one or two crowns, you are seen driving the best
cars and living the good life. What a shame!
I also remember a particular young and good looking young lady who without a doubt was uneducated (avoidable grammatical blunder). After she struggled to get admission into the University, she decided to contest in the Queen of Aso Beauty Pageant and came out the winner. She later went on to compete in the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant and came out in 5th place as Miss Ambassador Nigeria. She then represented Nigeria in the Miss Ambassador International competition which she also won and ended up getting selected by the Miss Tourism organizers to represent Nigeria in the Miss Tourism International competition.
This young lady in question is about 30 now if not over and despite all the â€œcrownsâ€ she has won, all the cars she has driven, all the countries she has represented Nigeria in, she is still not a graduate of a university and is unfortunately still unable to correctly construct a sentence or have an intellectual conversation that does not revolve around money, cars or pageantry.
If that is the so called â€œgood lifeâ€ then permit me to say it is a very PATHETIC one! Ladies, I honestly do not know why some of you are so eager to become â€œBeauty Queensâ€ but if the end goal is a â€œget rich quick schemeâ€ then it is quite unfortunate and all I can say is good luck to you.
Queen is selfless; a Queen gives back to her people. A Queen carries
herself with grace and accords herself with respect. And except you are
ready to act like a Queen then you simply do not deserve to be one.
To the organizers of such ridiculous beauty pageants out there, shame on you for choosing to exploit young girls the way you do and I really hope these girls figure out sooner than later that they are not just some pawn you can use to get whatever you want.
Article culled from A Loco Viva Voce