Sunday 23rd July, 2017
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Nigerians beware of Miss This, Miss That!

Nigerians beware of Miss This, Miss That!

I was billed to officiate at a beauty pageant-cum award giving ceremony, last Fri­day at Owerri, as the key­note speaker. I had written what I considered a good speech and had got an expert to translate it into Igbo, as the entire proceed­ings at the Asa Igbo pageant would be in Igbo language. It was that refreshing departure from the norm, as well as the assurance by the organizers that it was not going to be like the run-of the mill pageants, about which I had since be­come suspicious, that had made me to agree to participate fully. I did not only participate but had also made this newspaper, whose editorial board I chair, to throw its weight behind the planning and execution of the event. We had publicized and popularized he event as profes­sionally as we could. We were convinced that we were sup­porting a good course, because the Asa Igbo pageant would be an occasion to glorify and pro­mote Igbo language, values and culture.
The paper I prepared was directed at that noble theme. I had since started frowning at the promotion of female cleav­ages and nudity as signifying beauty. Hence, in the eyes of the different organizers of beauty pageants in the West and which has been copied line, hook and sinker by Nigerian organiz­ers like Ben Bruce and co., the most beautiful maidens are those who flaunt their feminine attributes best and most allur­ingly before male audiences and judges the most and most audaciously. As a typical Afri­can, this definition of ‘beauty’ appears very defective to me, because in our African milieu, the beauty of a woman, espe­cially the nubile female, is de­fined more by inside, unseen values than by the outward at­tributes which can be cosmeti­cally achieved.
In the other words, many of the Miss This; Miss That which most of our beauty pageants have been turning out might, in fact, be painted sepulchers with stinking attributes, which to the ordinary African, does not con­stitute the beauty of a woman.
The organizers of the Asa Igbo pageant had assured us that they had the same lofty objectives as I was espousing when I first discussed with Mike Akabueze, the president of the Asa Igbo Foundation, as a condition for agreeing to the partnership with The Authority. They had assured me that their beauty queen is one that could stand out any day as the ambas­sador of Igbo beauty as defined by Igbo culture and philosophy. I was completely bought over and made up my mind to de­liver a memorable paper that would add some colour to the event. The title of my paper was: The Woman as the Glory of Her Society, which I would have de­livered in Igbo as: Nwanyi bu Ugo Mba.
Actually, I had taken my theme from Obi Egbuna’s de­piction of the woman (or a maiden, if you like) as ‘the mas­cot of her race’.
In little less than 1,300 words, I tried to depicte how important and highly-cherished a well-mannered woman, in contrast to a physically endowed woman is sought after and respected in Igboland, in the understanding that while the physical beauty soon evaporates, the intrinsic inner beauty lasts forever, and that it is that maiden with that inner beauty that the Igbo re­gard as a “beautiful” woman. I, therefore, exhorted our maid­ens to aim at that inner perma­nent beauty for it to count. I had also shown that like in the Medieval Europe, when knights in shining armour went out to fight for their ladies, the Igbo man is also very chilvalrous to women who have the inner beauty, and who are, therefore, marriageable. That is why an Igbo would be going about in rags but would ensure that her wife is not bettered by any oth­er. An Igbo man can go to every length to fight and provide for a woman with the inner beauty.
When a suitor is seeking the hands of a lady in marriage, scouts and spies are sent out to check out the intended bride’s background. It is not how phys­ically beautiful she is that the spies look for, but rather how she behaves and carries herself under different situations. For, that to the Igbo, constitutes the real beauty. Therefore, I had opined, to the Igbo, only a mar­riageable maiden is beautiful.
Unfortunately, I was not able to deliver that paper because I was not able to attend the event for which I had finalized the arrangements weeks earlier, to attend. The organizers had made my hotel bookings and had communicated to me how I would get there from the air­port. My airline booking on Air Peace had been made from my office for 10.10 am flight on Friday, which would have given me ample time to get to my ho­tel, freshen up and prepare for the function which was to start at five.
On the very morning that I was to travel, the Miss Anam­bra scandal and especially, its fallouts had hit the skies and I happened to have been in­volved by the parents of the victim that was Miss Bless­ing Chidinma Okeke, around whom the scandal revolved. Her case, especially as I got intimated on the other details that are not readily at the pub­lic domain, had spoilt my mind for the whole week. I instantly hated all beauty pageants in Ni­geria and lost interest in the one I was going to participate in that very day. It was sad to me, but I could not help it as the orga­nizers kept calling me till later that day, reminding me that my absence was delaying the start of the pageant. I felt very sorry that I had let Mr Mike Aka­bueze and his team at Asaigbo Foundation down for which I apologize profusely, but I would have been useless if I had been there. I was so down and out over Miss Chidinma’s case, and I was grieving as if she was my daughter, especially over what the poor girl had gone through in the hands of people who she had trusted as the had or­ganizers of the pageant from which she had emerged as Miss Anambra 2015, and who had betrayed her and shattered her young fragile life.
There have been a lot of sto­ries of underhand and indecent t things that take place during these beauty pageants, and even though organizers are always quick to deny them, the sto­ries persist with uncommon stubbornness. I was hopeful, because of the assurance that I had sought and got, that the one I was going to attend at Owerri would be refreshingly different. But how could I be sure? After all, who would have thought that a pageant organized by Anambra Broadcasting Service – the famous ABS, could turn out to be a huge scandal?
Actually I got involved with the Miss Anambra case when it came out that the embattled girl wanted to spill the beans of how she was drugged and set-up at a press conference but had run as far as her fragile heels could carry her when she received threats that she would be shot dead at the conference if she dared carry out her threat. I had made my mind that the assail­ants should get ready to kill me with Chidinma. However, as it now stands, it is not my inten­tion to speak further on what my findings so far are because I have given my words to Chidin­ma’s family, speaking through phone calls, that I would hold my fire and not proceed with further action on the lurid is­sue of betrayal of a young lamb until the storm passes, to enable the poor girl recover from her mental, physical and mental torture. It was after one of my phone calls with her embattled father on my way to the airport last Friday morning that I can­celled my Owerri trip.
From what I know, and from what are being unearthed, I intend to carry out a massive and intensive campaign, along­side people of like minds, to make the different state legisla­tive houses to pass laws mak­ing beauty pageants illegal. Furthermore, I intend to urge church leaders, parents and other members of the society to prevail on our girls not to get involved in beauty pageants, as it is obvious that what the orga­nizers advertise on the surface is not what happens behind the public view.

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