CHIAMAKA Chukwurah emerged as the 10th beautiful lady sponsored by My Heritage, My Pride organisation to this year’s edition of Sisi Oge of Africa pageant held in Lagos recently.
The Anambra State-born queen, who is also an entrepreneur, is the originator of Ama Shoes, a shoe brand that she says would play a great role in providing foot wears for the under-privileged children.
In this interview, Chukwurah equally talks about her pet project, Connecting Smiles, which focuses on assist- ing women and youths.
As an Ibo lady, what motivated you to contest Sisi Oge of Africa beauty pageant?
Sisi Oge of Africa pageant aims to promote African values, culture and identity regardless of ethnicity. It’s open to everyone regardless of your state of origin, so my tribe has got nothing to do with it. Over the years, the pageant has produced nine beauty queens before me and if you look at the demographics of these beauty queens, you’ll realise majority of them are not from Yoruba land.
Who talked you into the pageant?
When I heard of the pageant through a friend, my mind wasn’t made up, and to be frank, I was really reluctant. My mum gave me the go ahead to apply and I made a quick decision that if I wanted to be part of it, I had to win. My mum gave me confidence with her prayers and support. She was that voice that gave me the push. That encouragement was what I held on to even while we were in camp and luckily my dream came true. Twenty of us contested the pageant.
You said your mum is a clergy, would you want to follow her footsteps later in life?
I don’t think it’s for me to decide. That is a total calling from God. But right now, I’m a chorister in my church.
What do you try to learn about your mum?
My mum taught me to be a strong woman. That’s one thing that I wish to be. She has been through a lot of things but despite that she’s still herself. She has not gone into depression thinking God is not with her. Life hasn’t made her not to be the good person that she is.
What about your dad?
He is late.
You have an enviable physique. Have you always been a model?
I have done runway and photo shoots, TV com- mercials for MTN as well as for Hollandia before Sisi Oge pageant. I also featured in ‘10 Days In Sun City’, a movie produced by comedian Ayo Makun (AY).
Aside modeling, did you ever attend a grooming school?
Not really, but my mum used to be a fashion designer. She’s been telling me what to do at any particular point in time. Maybe I should call her my coach, as she advises me on what to do, what not to do, what to wear and what not to wear. For instance, I wear African prints a lot even before Sisi Oge pageant. My mum doesn’t believe in long weaves but she likes me to look very Af- rican in my dressing, and we had no inclination that one day, I would take part in the pageant.
What made you stand out to win the crown?
I put in my best. I said the things I needed to say on point. I think everything just worked in my favour. Be- ing intelligent also helps during a time like this.
Do you have any beauty routine?
I try to eat early enough and drink a lot of water. I eat vegetables and I exercise about two, three times a week.
How’s your project, Connecting Smiles, different from other empowerment programmes around?
Connecting Smiles is a beautiful platform for me to reach a lot of people, put smiles on their faces, empower them, make them look inward and not be dependent. In- stead they should aim to be employers of labour. I want to embark on entrepreneurship and skill acquisition programmes where young ladies and women would acquire knowledge they need to improve themselves. A lot of empowerment programmes are out there but don’t amount to much because they don’t understand the needs of the people and don’t know the right people to empower. My first approach would be to identify these people the connecting way. We all have to put our hands together and do something to assist our youths, and we have been able to identify them. Whether we like it or not, all of us cannot work in the bank or offices. With our pride and our heritage, we want to correct miscon- ceptions about life and living. We need to bring back our lost values. Some of our young ladies are not ready to work; they believe N100,000 monthly salary is not enough, but they should look at what they could do in the long term with their hands and become employers of labour.
You are three months on the throne, what have you done since you won?
The last Children’s Day event was one of my focuses. I organised children and entertained them. I advised and encouraged them and made them smile. They were so happy being around me and they tell me ‘Auntie, you look really African, we love your dressing’; you know, children are fascinated with beauty queens. They were so happy.
You won a KIA car, has your lifestyle changed in any way?
I have traveled to Dubai and the United Kingdom as Ambassador of Africa after the pageant. I’ve honoured invitations to events too. I’m very careful these days.
Any advice for ladies who want to be a queen like you?
Be sure that this is what you want to do. It’s a lot of hard work but be confident, make sure you are intelli- gent and the sky will be your limit.