The organiser of Miss Nigeria pageant has flagged-off preparations for thecelebration of 60th anniversary of Miss Nigeria scheduled to hold in November aimed at show casing attributes of Nigerian women and fostering unity among Nigerians.
Speaking at a media briefing in Lagos, Tuesday, to intimate the media on the event, which started in January this year, the Executive Director of Miss Nigeria Organisation, Dr. May Ikeora, said that all arrangements have reached advanced stage to achieve a successful multi-faceted celebration.
“Miss Nigeria is 60 years today. Founded in 1957, when we were trying to secure Nigeria’s independence, it was a more symbolic pageant specifically formed to promote peace and unity in Nigeria, which it has continued to achieve,” she said.
“Today, we celebrate Miss Nigeria at 60. We have come a long way. It is another chance to refresh and search for what we can do better for Nigeria. How do we change with Nigeria and how do we make contributions to make Nigeria better?” former Miss West Africa added.
In continuing, she however, emphasised that the only way the pageant can be improved upon was for them to achieve the goals they had set.
“We have been working so hard from last year, especially, trying to make sure that Miss Nigeria as an organisation is clear with its objectives,” she stressed.
She mentioned the key elements of Miss Nigeria pageant, which include; the pageant itself, the women empowerment element as its vision today is empowering women beyond beauty, sustainable and long term project such as Green-Girl project, which is reviewed every five years, and the culture and heritage.
“Every Miss Nigeria surpasses what her predecessor did. It brings value to our community and the sponsors. Every year from last year, Miss Nigeria takes a state or two and promotes their culture and heritage. Last year, the girls wore Benin attire on stage thereby promoting Benin culture.
“We want a strong Miss Nigeria. We want to bring back pageantry better than what it used to be. It is unfortunate that we have too many pageants today that diluted pageantry, we don’t want that anymore”, she said.
She revealed that they would continue to use Miss Nigeria as a platform to showcase who a beauty queen should be. According to her, Miss Nigeria is not a perfect girl but the everyday girl that represents the entirety of Nigeria and implored Nigerians to support her.
“Miss Nigeria embodies an intelligent and beautiful woman that understands her identity as a Nigerian. It is not about beauty or whether a girl is from East, West North or South. Last year, we had more girls from the Northern part of Nigeria that contested for the pageant. We don’t want a girl from a particular ethnic group but, a Moslem or a Christian from any state that will represent who we are as human beings,” she explained.
She summed up her statement by saying that the 60th anniversary is an avenue for them to tell Nigerians and the world that the pageant is bigger, stronger and better.
“This is Miss Nigeria, well structured to promote peace, unity and our rich cultural heritage,” Ikeora added.
In the same vein, Special Project Expert, Edi Lawani, said that Miss Nigeria has a lot of history comprising visual and spectacle that goes through stages of selection, training, boot camp and the grand finale.
He maintained that the need to ensure that the event is recorded and stored for generations yet unborn to watch is by storing it in a recorded form.
“From the technical point of view, moving forward, we shouldn’t make a mistake like in the past. To capture it properly, that is where we come in to ensure the technical requirement is put together,” he said.
“This year, we will ensure Miss Nigeria is presented in a way it can be termed world class that will make it engaging for people to want to watch after that day,” he said
Also speaking, the 40thMiss Nigeria, Chioma Obiadi, the current queen, said she has used the platform to orientate girls and women through Green-Girl project she inherited from her successor.
“While growing up, I wanted to be Miss Nigeria because it is ambassadorial. I would like young people looking up to Miss Nigeria to know that it is not about beauty but, for projection of peace and unity in Nigeria,” she explained.
The 22-year-old 200 level student of Geography and Meteorology, Namdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, reiterated that the 60 years old pageant has a lot of weight on her shoulders.
“It has been amazing. I have built my intellectual strength from being the queen,” she revealed.
It would be recalled thatthe winner of the maiden edition of the Miss Nigeria, Mrs Grace Oyelude, clocked on December 19, 2016, the day the 40th Miss Nigeria, Chioma Obiadi, was crowned.
The organisers of Miss Nigeria, in one accord stated that they would do all they could to sustain the pageant and ensure it continues to serve its purpose of bringing peace, unity and progress to Nigeria.
They revealed that they had written letters to the American President, Donald Trump, individuals, organisations and some multinational companies, intimating them about the world class event that has interesting programmes that would thrilled Nigerians and the world.
Established in 1957, the pageant which holds every year aims to showcase the positive attributes of Nigerian women and also serves as a platform used in uniting Nigeria.
In a bid to end economic recession in Nigeria, a traditional ruler in Lagos State, Oba Saheed Elegushi, has urged government at all levels to support growth of fashion industry to create employment and increase government revenue.
The monarch, represented by Lagos State acting Commissioner for Transportation, Anofiu Elegushi, during Africa Fashion Week Nigeria (AFWN) 2017 held at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos over the weekend, stated that it would be advantageous to jump start the economy currently in recession, if three tiers of government partner fashion promoters to support growth in the industry.
According to him, when government and the public supported fashion industry, indirectly ensure growth of entertainment industry, employment opportunities would be created and revenue generation would be increased.
He noted that most developed countries earn their major revenues from patronage of their fashion industry by internationally acclaimed superstars, royal families and distinguished personalities.
“I can say that Africa Fashion Week Nigeria 2017 is a great advocate in launching creativity of African and Nigerian fashions,” he added.
Also, Ronke Ademiluyi; founder of AFWN said that the event, fourth in Nigeria, was used to promote and project African culture and heritage to a global audience, by displaying African and Nigerian fabrics in various designs and styles.
Ademiluyi stated that adoption of African fabric and designers globally was a testament to the sector’s untapped potentials as a catalyst for economic development.
In her words, “After three successful years of having the show at Eko Hotels and Suites, we decided to host this year’s show at National Theatre, in Iganmu, Lagos.
“The National Theatre, inaugurated 40 years ago, when Nigeria hosted second Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77), remains true icon of our African heritage,” she continued.
Ademiluyi expressed that long-term growth of fashion industry was grounded in developing initiatives that would ensure that it remained at forefront of creativity, centre of fashion, style and innovation.
“This year’s AFWN is unique as we have 56 designers and 40 exhibitors selected from various parts of Nigeria and African continent, displaying their talents and brands in the two-day catwalk show”.
Meanwhile, 2016 Best Model Nigeria winner in Istanbul, Turkey and also one of the models in the catwalk, Joy Ejiro, stated that Nigerian fabrics were getting international acceptance and required support and promotion by government.
It is noted that some fashion designers at the event includes Reverse, (handmade bags, suits), Zainab Bridals, Lamzie from Owerri, Simply Sleek and Women in Nigeria designs, also known as “Oleku’’, Modella, Kola Kuddus, Maufechi, Regalia by FAL, Blingshiki, Zizi Cardow, Marobuk, Tash by Tasha, Linda Ngwi (Cameroun) Sally Bawa and Alex Akande (Cameroon).
There are few African women that have made tremendous impact towards development and promotion of creative arts. One of them is Nike Davies Okundaye, an artist, batik originator, singer and dancer.
Spurred by a strong desire to set up a gallery where Nigerians, Africans and tourists would learn and appreciate Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, she built a state-of–the-art gallery in Lekki, Lagos State. The gallery houses artworks, cloths and bags. The bags and cloths are made with locally made fabrics.
Born on May 23, 1951, she lost her mother at the age of six and went to live with her grandmother who died the following year. So she went to stay with her great grandmother who was the then head of fabric weaving.
“Because I lost my mother early in life, one of my mother’s sisters had to bring me to Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. Osogbo has rich art and cultural heritage and was one of the centres for Yoruba artistic heritage. It was while I was in Osogbo as a young girl that I heard about the late Susanne Wenger and her husband Ulli Beier. Up till today, I consider them the major catalyst of Nigerian art movement,” Okundaye said
She explained that extra-moral classes that Beier conducted in those days was what helped art in Nigeria to blossom.
“They identified those talents and built them in arts. Today, as you know many of them have become international artists.”
For her, Susanne was the one she derived inspiration from specifically, likewise other artists. Okundaye said it was then that she decided to go and grow up with her because of the way Beier embraced everybody including Yoruba religion and culture.
“Honestly, she truly inspired me during my stay with her. That was how I started with arts. But let me equally say that from the very beginning, my family is into craft art especially, where I come from in Ogidi Ijumu, Kogi State. My first effort was in weaving, then from weaving I moved into Adire (indigenous textile designing), but later, I discovered the Batik, which I called the loss wax method,” she said.
Okundaye explained that Batik is also called campalla.
She noted that due to her avowed love for weaving indigenous textile designing, she was dubbed Mama Adire, adding that Adire making has taken her across the globe .
“The Adire has carried me to so many countries of the world,” says Okundaye.
She stressed that though she loves Adire, she also does oil and acrylic paintings which she all exhibited at her gallery.
“We have held so many exhibitions in my gallery since we opened. Some featured my works and other Nigerian and foreign artists,” Okundaye said.
Her Lagos art gallery is one of the highly patronised tourists’ centres in Nigeria. At present, she has more than 7000 artworks in her gallery in Lagos, though not all of them are for sale.
“A lot of them are displayed for Nigerians and tourists to see the creativity in Nigeria just like in museums abroad. People pay money to enter museums abroad but we do not collect money in my gallery because it is a foundation and it is a dream that came to fruition,” she revealed.
Artists are happy to see their works displayed in my gallery. Each artist works with a spirit that drives him. We don’t see what they are seeing till they are through with their works,” she said.
On how she makes fortune from her gallery, she said: “I actually make money within and outside Nigeria. I do workshop in many countries such as Austria, France, Spain and so on. That is how I succeed with my work, but I derive joy and satisfaction of doing it in Nigeria. My gallery enables Nigerians to learn and develop their cultural heritage. I want to leave the gallery as a legacy after my death.”
What is the major challenge facing her gallery? she was asked. “Funding has been my major challenge so I hereby appeal to individuals, private and public organisations to come to my aid. I know that government cannot do everything for us but I want them to assist us in any way they can,” Okundaye said.
When she was asked to predict how art as a profession in Nigeria would look like in the next 10 years, she said with the help of the Ministry for Art and Culture, Nigeria would be known as African art depot in the next 10 years.
“We have over 30,000 registered artists in Nigeria which is quite intimidating compared with other countries. I am sure that the unregistered artists are more in number than the registered ones,” she said.
According to her, “Artwork is a therapy, If you see a work in which a mother is carrying her baby, it means love and warmness. If you look at an artwork, you would forget your problem.”
The cool and calm woman who is on a mission to reposition Nigeria and indeed Africa’s rich culture in people’s minds advises young artists in Nigeria to be honest in anything they do.
“Whatever you are doing, do it well. Let your work advertise your name. Market yourself in a good way. When you make money, save for the rainy day. Divide it into three parts-for your needs, family, then save the third part for your future. Above all, pass the knowledge to your children. Spanish painter and sculptor, Pablo Picasso was not a millionaire before he died but his works are now in many countries,” Okundaye added.
Though she did not have formal education, she has two doctorate degrees from schools in the United States of America. The second is on performing art.
“I am also a singer and dancer too,” she said with a smile.
The proprietress of the nationally spread cultural centres said her vision for opening art centres in Osogbo, with branches in Lagos, Abuja and Ogidi Ijumu is to promote artists, empower rural women and provide training opportunities for those interested in learning the practical aspect of art.
Ankara has become a popular commodity worldwide. In 2016 Ankara style become trendy and it is no longer regarded as a dress for the African locals and oldies, and not just modern and appealing, but also astounding.
The trendiest of all in 2016 was the Ankara match and mix pattern and plain designs in which blocks of various fabrics were sewn together on a plain material to create clothing with a few different colors. With the rate at which the print trended in 2016, one only begin to imagine if the Ankara would do as well or even more in 20017 than witness in 2016.
On part of Omotosho Oluwaferanmi of Lavender fabric, secret of Ankara trend is prints and price because for most designers, the textile is among easiest fabrics one could work with.
However,what would be additional development to 2017 expected increased sale of the fabric is the price because Ankara comes at different cost tags and qualities, in small, medium and big of the locally made fabric.
So choice is there for lover of the African made textile to go for whichever categories of preference, and with a good designer, it could be rocked effortlessly.
Besides, celebrities abroad have also been promoting the riches in area of sales of the fabric because of their patronage and exhibited love for rocking in varieties of styles.
Also, contributions of clients across Atlantic to the development was felt in folds as they send pictures of celebrities demanding for varieties of the fabric, and with such development there is guarantee for 2017 to be a better year for the African prints.
Yetunde Olukoya, founder of Ray Darten maintained that African print and Ankara fashion would do so much better in 2017, business wise, because the growing interest and demands were undeniable, and that with increase in awareness of the African trend, demand for high quality of the fabrics is stepping up market games.
According to her, 2016 was a done deal for the industry, with great development been recorded, and the demand for African print fashion would continue to grow through the roof of entrepreneurs who are into e-Commerce platforms with obvious growing potential.
To her, Africans should expect the prints to hit runways in 2017, just as last spring and summer, during which African textiles were seen in full effect.
“I cannot wait to have gorgeous prints, colors, flowers, ruffles and bows in 2017”.
She further expression her enthusiastic for more production of garments fixed to rock, a symbolic dignifying way to give back to the black continent’s riches.
“Ray Darten produces in the US and Nigeria and intends to keep it that way, both countries have given so much fashion-wise as regards Ankara”.
Halima Shuaib, another fashion designer, said in 2017, just like 2016, people would embrace more Ankara prints because of its versatility of turning it into beautiful pieces.
Her statement was supported by Sisialaro, an Ankara dealer, who said, she is certain that Ankara is here to stay as it has been in the market for as long as she could remember and that the prints have got beautiful patterns and colors that bring styles to life.
“The Africa made textile promotes African culture and the Ankara over the years, has become so versatile that people design in household item and or gadgets with including books, furniture, wears etc.
“And with new designs coming out I doubt people will ever stop demanding for it”.
Another African fabric freek ‘Butterflies by Aa’eshah, a designerpopularly known for her Ankara made bags, noted that people have been warming up to the idea of African inspired fashion which would definitely lead to considerable growth in 2017.
“I am making print bags because of my love for vibrancy of African textile and also the enjoys derive while working with them”.