Atom Lim: Miss Nigeria, from China- Miss Benue from Edo? (30 Days, 30 Voices)

Miss Benue was not exactly hot… who decides what states the contestants represent (and I’m challenging the person to a duel for that choice of a Miss Benue)?

I don’t know much about beauty pageants and I am not a big fan. In fact, other than the opportunity they provide to see mind-blowing bodies in swim suits, I don’t see much good in the shows.

But beauty pageants start to make real sense when people argue that they give young girls a chance to express their various cultures; to represent their people. That feeling of representation is what, I believe, attracts many old-fashioned people like me to the contests. It explains the pride of the average Nigerian when Agbani Darego was crowned Miss World; she was our ambassador, our gift to the world.

That was the pride I was hoping for when I sat to watch the 2012 MBGN pageant. I am from Benue State so that night I waited anxiously to see Miss Benue, and thought to myself- whoever she would be, she had better get on that catwalk and strut like no other. My heart raced; I wondered if it would be a Tiv, Idoma or an Igede girl. Considering the number of really hot Benue models that grace the Miss Benue pageant every year, I was certain ours would not be like the case of an Igbo person being Miss Gombe.

Alas, when she came out, Miss Benue was not exactly hot. In fact, I was completely devastated and wondered why ‘my people’ would choose to “fall my hand” by picking such a below-average model. I tweeted about my disappointment. Tweeps laughed and joked how ugly my Benue sisters were. I endured the needling banter till the long night ended.

Imagine my shock, frustration, and anger when I found out a couple of days later that Miss Benue was, in fact, an Edo girl; Aghedo Oses. I couldn’t understand how anyone would pick an Edo girl to be Miss Benue. How could she effectively represent Benue in the contest? Had the girl even ever been to the Middle-belt state? Was there not a chance that whatever she turned out to be on the show would affect Benue’s image? Perhaps if she won, I would even somehow claim her as a Benue person. But, hey, let’s face it, she was awful and my friends now think that’s the best Benue could offer.

So I have been thinking about the essence of this pageant business and I have many questions for Ben Bruce and his Silverbird team. For starters, who decides what states the contestants represent (and I’m challenging the person to a duel for that choice of a Miss Benue)? Are the states even consulted before representatives are picked in their names?

Mr. Bruce may not have the answers I seek. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my questions are dismissed as the rants of an ethnic-conscious Nigerian, a purist. But I am genuinely worried that in beauty contests, anyone is allowed to represent any entity or group of people.

So before you shoot me down in the ethnic flames, try to imagine a situation in which Julia Morley’s team, organisers of the Miss World pageant, unilaterally pick a Chinese girl living in Beijing to represent Nigeria at the 2012 Miss World show.

As awkward as the thought of a Chinese Miss Nigeria is, what Silverbird did is in effect no different! They picked a total stranger to fly my Benue flag; a bad choice at that!

It may be the norm in the pageant industry to “cross-carpet” contestants but I would rather states and countries decide who represents them. And if they wouldn’t be represented for whatever reason, so be it.

Tell Mr. Bruce if he wants a Miss Benue, he should go to Makurdi, Otupko or Gboko. Ene Lawani wasn’t Benue’s last gift to the beauty world.

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About the author: Atom Lim is a Nigerian journalist and development worker. He regularly comments on politics and governance. You can follow him on twitter; @atomlim.

Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (8)

  1. Weldone uncle hw cn the organizers choose an edo gal as miss benue no dats impossible infact i wil take it dat they were really drunk dat night

  2. Asabe you really are childish. You can disagree with a person without hurling insults.

  3. This is the most stupid article I have ever reaD and to think it was written by an allegedly educated person(I sincerely doubt this)a very shallowminded person concern about the outer looks of a person in connection with his state..I spit in revulsion.people like this are the reason we have problems in Nigeria.his stupid analogy abt China is so silly I am speechless.thank you the first guy that responded.he summed it up well.its about Nigeria and not a state.please ynaija stop posting every article.una dey fall my hand o

  4. HardlySimilar, you miss the point entirely! Of course the Chinese girl analogy holds water as you have to be where you are contesting from. If that's not the quota, we might as well just pick 36random girls and ditch the hypocrisy of states. Good job Atom, you speak for a lot of people with this piece…

  5. Nice piece Bro! I thought about this – thanks for writing about it. Hope the organisers look into the issues you raised.

  6. “and I’m challenging the person to a duet for that choice of a Miss Benue”

    I’m not sure if that ‘duet’ was supposed to be ‘duel’ but going by that statement, I was expecting an article that involved something about singing (or not singing) which I’m sure would have been far more interesting than what I just read.

    The Chinese girl analogy does not really hold weight here unless the Chinese girl happens to also be Nigerian. Then I would have no problem with it. The contest was for the title of Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, so who cares if she was from Edo State and was chosen to represent Benue? I think part of the problem with Nigeria is that we lack a national identity because we’re too focused on who is from which state.

    The point is, she is Nigerian and so, she should be given a fair chance at competing for the title. Besides if “the best Benue could offer” had shown up and properly contested for the Miss Benue title, then the producers would not have felt the need to put an Edo girl to represent the state.

    They needed 36 contestants, and they chose the top 36 from the pool that they had. Aghedo Oses was fortunate enough to be among them (so she must obviously have been doing something right).

    Besides, anyone who judges the beauty of all the girls from a state based on one contestant in a beauty pageant obviously doesn’t have a good grip on reality. We all know that beauty pageant standards are by no means any basis for drawing conclusions about an entire population.

  7. "and I’m challenging the person to a duet for that choice of a Miss Benue"

    I'm not sure if that 'duet' was supposed to be 'duel' but going by that statement, I was expecting an article that involved something about singing (or not singing) which I'm sure would have been far more interesting than what I just read.

    The Chinese girl analogy does not really hold weight here unless the Chinese girl happens to also be Nigerian. Then I would have no problem with it. The contest was for the title of Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, so who cares if she was from Edo State and was chosen to represent Benue? I think part of the problem with Nigeria is that we lack a national identity because we're too focused on who is from which state.

    The point is, she is Nigerian and so, she should be given a fair chance at competing for the title. Besides if "the best Benue could offer" had shown up and properly contested for the Miss Benue title, then the producers would not have felt the need to put an Edo girl to represent the state.

    They needed 36 contestants, and they chose the top 36 from the pool that they had. Aghedo Oses was fortunate enough to be among them (so she must obviously have been doing something right).

    Besides, anyone who judges the beauty of all the girls from a state based on one contestant in a beauty pageant obviously doesn't have a good grip on reality. We all know that beauty pageant standards are by no means any basis for drawing conclusions about an entire population.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail