Why I chose Miss Ojuloge Nigeria pageantry to preach culture, values — Olajumoke Ajadi

Olajumoke Ewatomi Ajadi is an actress, TV host and content creator. She is better known as the convener of the Miss Ojuloge Nigeria fame. In this interview by ROTIMI IGE, she talks about her pageant which is currently in its fifth year, love for culture, among other issues.

Tell us about growing up?

I am originally from Osun State but I grew up in Ibadan, which was where I had all my formal education. I was born into a family of six by Muslim parents. Over the years, I have come to love the city of Ibadan and this is why I try as much as I can to showcase the Ibadan girl in all I do. Altogether though, growing up was fun for me.

When did you become conscious of fashion and beauty?

My first beauty experience was a very funny one. I went for a modelling gig several years back but due to my height, I wasn’t shortlisted. At that moment, I told myself that nothing would stop me from doing fashion and working in the beauty industry.

What piqued your interest in pageantry?

I have always wanted to give back to the society where I grew up. At the very least, I wanted to have an NGO, but you know doing this comes with a lot of determination and I said to myself, why not a beauty pageant where I can nurture, train and contribute to the growth of young girls in my society. Hence, the reason I picked an interest in pageantry.

How long ago did the Ojuloge pageant start?

I ventured into pageantry in 2014 with the name Miss Ethnic Naija, but due to some challenges and lack of funds, I couldn’t pull through. So, I had to go back to my drawing table to restrategise. One of the results was a change in name to Miss Ojuloge Nigeria beauty pageant (Now Miss Ojuloge Nigeria). We had the maiden edition in 2017, so this year makes it our fifth outing as a pageant. This year’s edition is tagged ‘The Extraordinary Queen’.

So far, which of the years have been the most memorable, and tell us why?

Every year has its own uniqueness, I get to work with different talents each year. You know watching each of these girls being nurtured and growing to become a force to reckon with in the fashion industry is always an exciting experience for me, so every year is memorable.

Some see self-owned pageants as a front for corporate escort services. Being a woman who runs a pageant, have you ever experienced such propositions, or been a victim of that assumption?

No, not at all. I don’t even give room for such conversations. In fact, there is transparency with the girls right from the moment they get registered by letting them know this is a brand that preaches cultural values. And we showcase this in all our dealings with them and also train them to carry on this legacy even after they’ve left the brand.

Did being a face model have anything to do with the choice of the name, Ojuloge?

Not really, I just wanted a cultural name being that I wanted to promote culture. Also looking around, I could see a lot of ‘Face of This, and Face of that’, so I thought why not go for a name that suits me as a person who loves culture, hence, Miss Ojuloge.

What’s the goal for the winning girls of the pageant, any international representation opportunities like with MBGN, Miss Earth and the rest?

Of course, a lot of opportunities are in for the winners like monetary winnings, a trip to an African country, a platform to help them nurture their career as a model amongst other things. We are also currently working on affiliating with other international pageants.

What would you say is your long-term vision for Ojuloge?

My long-term vision is to promote cultural values through modern age fashion and to create a global brand for Nigeria’s fashion industry worldwide.

How do you fund the activities?

We source for sponsorships from corporate entities and also rely on individual support.

People constantly push the narrative of women not being good at working together, but here you are working solely with women and making it work daily. What’s the secret, or is that narrative a fallacy?

I think that narrative is a fallacy because I believe as a team leader, the key to having a successful project is to get team members who key into your vision, irrespective of their gender. And of course, there would be hiccups, but so far we all understand what needs to be done, the goal as well as the objectives of the project, then achieving positive results will be certain.

What are the qualities that make a successful Miss Ojuloge?

We are a pageant that is not all about physical appearance or just beauty, instead, we are looking out for beauty with brains. So, as a Miss Ojuloge Nigeria, you must be an all-around queen. This means that you’re a queen, morally, academically, intellectually and even socially. This is why each year we produce girls whoshine on all fronts.

Can you walk us through the yearly Ojuloge pageant routine or activity calendar?

First, we start with registration, which runs for four weeks, then proceed to the audition/orientation where we select the final contestants. This is followed by the voting stage, which runs for four weeks as well, giving us the main finalists that move into the next stage of the boot camp. This runs for three days leading up to the grand finale where we crown the queens.

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