Agbani’s Sickening Folly: Responding to Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

Mr. Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, in Agbani’s Sickening Folly, made the following assertions: (1) Africa is being contaminated by the immoral west; (2) it was a disgrace of national proportion for Agbani to bare her breasts; (3) Agbani needs moral, financial and psychological help; (4) Agbani’s parents needs some advise; (5) it is beneath anyone, especially Agbani, to hold menial jobs; and (6) women are being debased therefore it is of imperative that we find solution to these deviances and aberrations. That’s all he said. That’s all folks! Nothing more!

But you see, he could have said all that in 250 words or less; but he instead spent over 2000 words on “much ado about nothing.” And this is disappointing. Very disappointing! He was a disappointment in terms of his logic; he was a disappointment in terms of his language and tone; and he was a disappointment for picking on a young lady who neither did him nor the country harm. Really, what was her moral or legal offence that he had to spend so much of his time pouring invectives on her; and even questioned the sensibility of her parents — so much so that you’d think the girl and her parents are the epitome of decadence and indecency?

And through it all, the holier-than-thou attitude of Ugochukwu was clear. His puritanism, superciliousness, and self-righteousness were also obvious. He couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t contain himself. He couldn’t help and contain himself so much so he had to break the levee of anger and bitterness in him. For more than a year he had been waiting, waiting for the opportune time to jab and punch her. And when he had the chance, he went for her throat, for her jugular vein.

What is it, what was it about a “bare breast” that so infuriated the author that he couldn’t help but call Agbani all sorts of names? In cinemas, on the pages of magazines and everywhere else, we are inundated with bare-breasts. In art galleries in Europe and elsewhere, there are pictures and painting of bare breasts, bare buttocks and private parts. Not every one of us are comfortable with such images, but still, no one in his right mind would lambast and assassinate the character of those involved. I’d rather ogle and admire Agbani’s bare breasts than engage in hypocrisy and the level of intolerance and bitterness exhibited by Ugochukwu.

And in case he does not know, he should know this: to the extent that Africa is part of the international community — a community that is exposed to the vagaries of modernity and globalization — we cannot escape the “western wind.” Africa also affects and influences the West in all aspects of modernity and globalization. This is not a one-way-street. It is not and has never been. The trouble is that most do no know how much the western culture is affected by the African culture; and if Ugochukwu is in doubt, he should visit Paris, London, New York, Milan, and Washington DC.

What is wrong in Agbani abandoning her formal education for the promises of fame and money in the modeling world? Isn’t that one of the tenets of life: to go in search of your dreams. We all must pursue our dreams and aspirations wherever they may take us. It is better to fall short, to fail, than to not have tried. That Agbani deferred her UNIPORT education for a modeling career is not peculiar and or abhorrent; what would have been regretful was for her to see the beacon, to have a dream, to hear a voice and then refuse to follow her heart. The most successful amongst us are those who dare to “travel the path less traveled.” She may have fallen short for now but that’s ok for tomorrow belongs to people like her, those who dare to climb mountains and sail against the wind! There is no shame in failing; the shame is in being a coward, for refusing to live life.

What is wrong with being a baby-sitter in Europe? Mr. Ejinkeonye suffers from the same ailment most Nigerians suffer from: short-sightedness. In Africa if you are a mechanic, a plumber, a cook, an electrician, or a house-painter — you are considered a “nobody.” That is the African mentality. It was the same mentality that stopped many male secondary school students from learning typing & shorthand (since they were considered soft and therefore girl’s subject). Today — and more so in the West, you’d be at the mercy of others — if you can’t type.

Does Ugochukwu know that most babysitters are well paid? Many lawyers, medical doctors, accountants and professors were babysitters before achieving their dreams. There is no shame in being a babysitter. Did this enterprising young lady dip her fingers in the Nigerian treasury? Did she not execute contracts to specifications? Did she bribe the Nigerian Congress? Was she involved in vote-tampering? Is she part of the group that continues to assassinate political opponents? Or is she a drug dealer? What are this lady’s sins? What, did she do wrong? That she bare her breasts and took menial jobs? That her modeling career has not taken off? What nonsense!

Miss Agbani Darego was a babysitter in Europe? And so what? She was not a thief, or a prostitute. She held menial jobs in South Africa? And so what; that’s not at all shameful. She had a job. She paid her ways. It wasn’t as though she was on government support. And what if she was? There are times when one needs government support — especially in times of emergency — before getting back on ones feet. When did it become a source of shame for a young lady or anyone to work hard to support herself?

Ugochukwu’s insinuations and assertion are vile, offensive and reprehensible. Whatever she did (legally) in Europe or in South Africa to support herself and her family should not even be a topic for public consumption. He should mind his business or spend his time writing about the moral decadence and corrupting practices of politicians in Abuja and elsewhere. He not only owes the reading public an apology for his yellow-journalism, he owes the young lady a world of apology for dragging her name through the cesspool. He should apologize to her for soiling her name. What’s more, he should also apologize to her parents for the pain and anguish he has caused them by way of his disrespectful and hurtful essay. Who in his right mind casts undue aspersion on another person’s parents?

No one who read the trashy piece will take it for anything but trash: trash in and trash out. Haba, has Nigerian journalism sunk so low and so pitiable that the Independent Newspaper had to publish such garbage? It is sad, very sad that a man who sits on the editorial board of a newspaper is capable of such venom. You know, it makes me wonder what his though process is. I wonder. But in the end, Agbani’s Sickening Folly is nothing but a demonstration of Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye’s inner foible: garbage in garbage out!

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Coco April 29, 2009 - 2:43 pm

Sabella, its becoming very unbecoming of you… Sometimes you write your articles without reasoning at all. Although you are gifted in writing, no doubt, your thought process is sometimes one-way-traffic. Look at the way you just rubbished Ejinkeonye’s article. Are you saying its good for your young girls to be exploited? Are you saying its good for our girls to bare their nakedness’ in public? Is is sensible for our so-called show biz and pageantry organisers to voyeurise our daughters like this? You go and give your daughter to Ben Bruce to pose naked for cat walk modelling. I used to be a fan of yours, but your write-ups these days make me sick, look at your nonsense about Ruben Abati. The same thing you have written to Ejinkeonye, i write you you. Mind your business, why comment on his article at all? Q.E.D.

Moral Cop May 18, 2006 - 5:22 am

She might as well go and become a prositute, and hawk that physical asset of hers. Who is a whore? A person who markets her body (private parts) to satisfy the lust of men. And this could be in categories. If you bare your breasts to satisfy veuyeours and prurient men (and women), then are you better than a whore? Can you in all honesty condemn them? Both of you are mere commodities for sale. So dirty!

Mr. Sabella, come out with it? Are you by this inane crusade tryin to win the favour of the naive lady, and then, do perform action you are popular for? Please, somebody should keep this lady far from some ill-motivated crusaders!

Anonymous May 17, 2006 - 10:07 am

I don't understand why so many people have to be hypocritical about Agbani's baring herself! she's a model for goodness sake what is to be expected if you choose that path where your physical atributes are your only asset!

IB Dun May 17, 2006 - 6:15 am

All the people talking of suing Ejinkeonye for the article he wrote are all yam-heads. Do they know about the intricacies of libel suits? If you say that your reputation was damaged, you must be able to prove in court that you have the reputation you are claiming was damaged. What reputation could a girl that was not ashamed to lay bare her drooping, grossly unappetizing breasts before the world possibly lay claim to?

In fact, I know a parent in Nigeria who is toying with the idea of mobilizing parents Christians, Muslims, traditionalists) who think that the offensive photograph posed serious damage to the moral health of their children, to come together for a class suit against Agbani and his sponsors. It is just that he understands that Agbani is just another innocent girl being used by people, so, he does not want to cause her more trouble than her handlers have already done.

But the hope is that one of these days, Agbani would be persuaded to agree that he was used and dumped, and then, become a star witness in class suit against those whose stock in trade is deceiving innocent young children out of school and dumping them in one European capital or the other to suffer. It is a classical case of child of abuse, because some of the girls are under 18.

The event where Agbani bared her breasts was a public one, and pressmen were invited. So the aim of the organizers was for the whole Nigeria to see what they had to display? Is it not possible they were intent on mischief, based on the bloody reaction that had greeted such displays in the past? Is this not an intentional irresponsible act, intended to inflame passions and cause mayhem in the country? Did they then act in national interest based on their knowledge of the volatile nature of such matters in a multi-religious country Nigeria. Cant they be tried for deliberate provocation?

uzo May 15, 2006 - 11:56 pm

Mr Abidde,

I totally agree with you.I read Mr Ejinkeonye's article the other day and i was very offended.If Mr Ejinkeonye is so offended by Agbani's boobies then please by all means turn your face the other way next time you perceive that you're about to behold such a sight.How can a human being be filled with so much bitterness against a young lady that doesn't know he exists.What evidence does he have to support his claims about the poor girl.I'll be very glad if this man is sued for this article.This bornm again people have no right to impose their morals on everyone.Mr Ejinkeonye, I would love for you to read this letter and better yet, i would love to meet you in person.I don't believe that a christian should ever utter such derisive remarks.

Mr Ejinkeonye, you and your likes are the problem with the world today.You have used religion to breed so much hatred and intolerance and it breaks my heart to see you fanatics go about the way you do.

I come to this webpage to educated myself and not read such ignorant jagon from the likes of Mr Ejinkeonye.Mr Ejinkeonye please go wash your heart.

A.A. MAN May 15, 2006 - 6:51 pm

Sabidde I'm in complete agreement with your rebuttal and most of your postings in general. You have a gift for removing the frills and folly of a situation and presenting it realistically. If Agbani chooses the modeling route to fame and fortune that is her perogative and right. That young sister has the Nolly/Hollywood looks and appeal and her a star quality would prevail on both sides of the Atlantic. So I say big ups to her career and to you for supporting her decision.

bob May 15, 2006 - 3:12 pm

Incisive! Very well said, bro!

I.D. Kris May 15, 2006 - 12:37 pm

I seriously think that Sabella Abidde's diatribe is based on faulty reading of the article. Unfortunately, virtually all the contributors to the piece have fallen into this trap.

For example, (if we read the same article) nowhere did the writer say Agbani was baby-sitting. He said there were rumours in media circles(and there are always many) and as a journalist interested in the truth, he investigated, and his contact in London said it could not be true. So what is all this noise about? I think the artcile is directed at those using young innocent girls to achieve fame and success, after which they dump them. Now, I fail to see anywhere the article scoffed at menial jobs….If anyone left Nigeria to come to Europe to baby-sit, well and good. But to lure a young girl out of her viable career path, where she had already gained admission to study Computer Science and then leave her in what appears like the middle of no where, is what I think the artilce is trying to lampoon. I think it is cruel. The artilce dwelt so much on that. Indeed, Ejinkeonye has a duty as a public commentator to use Agbani's example to discourage other girls/parents from falling into such traps. And I think all this hyteria is inspired not by any love for Agbani, but by fears for a profession that might come under serious threat, if a national outrage is provoked by the article.

There are a few things I deduct from these reactions:

ONE: Those who are pretedning to be fighting for Agbani are only "using" her to protect

their trade which has come under threat from Ejinkeonye's article. They think that pouring venom on Ejinkeonye would frustrate further writers from taking up the issue of the outrageous photograph, and create a significant reappraisal of the social/moral implications of the operations of the fashion and pageant industry.

Everybody appears to be using Agbani… Pageant organisers have used her to achieve great breakthrough, and are still using her…they show her picutres on TV always to get young girls to enlist in beauty contests. The soft sell magazine that put her on their cover sold out. The website that published her pix became instantly very famous. Now, they are luring her into a lawsuit they know will lead nowhere, and attract further unfavourable publicity for her. If they sue the Independent newspaper for running that piece, as the case gets reported, comments would keep flowing out from more people. It is like a tobacco company suing anybody for calling them manufacturers of killer poison!

Plz time has come for this girl to start thinking for herself, and shove all these do-gooders off her shoulders. What are they really talking about? That a writer has no right to show outrage against indecent photograph? Or that he has no rights to attack the fashion industry for exploiting, young innocent girls? Or that he has no right to warn girls who wish to abandon their education for modelling, with the info that those who took that decision before them have not fared any better? Unfortunately, virtually all the comments try to vindicate Ejinkeonye's stand. They are all citing Europe and America as their standard, and this is what the writer has chosen to disagree with.

I insist: this uproar is not about Agbani! It is all rooted in self interest. Those posting comments to suport Agbani are even doing grave harm to her image, by the points they are making, even more than whatever Ejinkeonye is being acused of. Sabella is saying that in magazines abroad nude women abound…Is he now saying Agbani is like those women? Would Agbani love to be classed in the same group with women who are baring it all in those photgraphs?

It is time, people desist using young girls like Agbani for their own selfish ends. In my view, all the write-up did was to present Agbani as a victim. And as for Sabella, knowing his self-declared reputation in this site, every effort should be made to keep Agbani far from him.Am sure you get my point!

flo May 15, 2006 - 12:13 pm

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was taken aback and irritated when I read the previous article.It reminded me of the extremism we complain about often. I believe the world is a global village and we have to learn to tolerate other peoples views even though they are not acceptable to us instead of looking at issues through shortsighted views. I also believe in tolerance. I look at Agbani Darego as a beautiful young lady who chose modelling as a career and helped to make us proud. I do not encourage immorality in any form. Beauty contests are great and a good source of exposure for our young girls,once they do not sleep with the judges to win.Living abroad has taught me dignity of labor. I am a medical doctor but I worked as a receptionist, waitress, cashier etc before I started my medical residency. All these were a means to an end.Good luck Agbani and make Nigeria proud.

prince kennedy Iyoha May 15, 2006 - 11:50 am

Dear brother, Sabella Ogbobode Abidde.

Thanks for coming to the rescue of our young lady. Her issue was already becoming a talk of town, and many writers were begining to jump on her girl, as if she was responsible for the social problems in Nigeria.

Once more, thanks for this article.


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