But it is to the moderator of that discussion that we must praise for highlighting the incidence of the warped concept of African or Nigerian ‘beauty’ that is sold us today, even by our very own. I am so sorry that I cannot get you her name now, but I sure will do before the conclusion of this discussion. There are two reasons I am happy that she it was that raised this nagging question. First, we live in a sometimes naive Lagos or Nigeria where it looks as if everything is subtly going bonkers or that you are the mad one if you observe the day’s madness and draw attention thereto. Second, this one issue is gender specific and directly related to the way the Nigerian woman has become a mere article of commerce, sold as merchandise to be ravished by international sex maniacs and nymphomaniacs, objectified day-in-day-out on account of the money they bring in viathe large portions of the cleavage they are wont to trade. So, coming from one directly affected by this, this madness, it was refreshing, so much so that because one is careful not to taken for a chauvinist or a moralist. Sadly though, the gladiators in that arena did not have time enough and enough time to draw their swords let alone take on the hydra on ground.
If we are not careful, one is tempted to say that we are back in the days of the French colonial policy of Assimilation right here in Nigeria, where there is deliberate, sustained effort to brainwash black people, Nigerians and make them aliens to their own ways. If that is not the case, why have we not done something, anything against the rape on what relative African-Nigerian beauty really is. Menelaus at least fought a war, now I know, not for the beautiful woman that was stolen from him, but for the insult that that thievery caused. Today, we just sit there, relax and ogle all of those sick-looking vultures they call girls, adorned with hair bought from certain shrines in India and processed as ‘attachment’. We sit back and enjoy that show of veritable shame where our potential mothers, who cannot even speak either Edo, Ishan, Isoko, Igala or Kanuri, or even Yoruba or Ibo are paraded like caricatures or modern dayFrankensteins, struggling to speak an English in an accent they got from watching Ally MacBeal on TV. God knows how many of them would have wantonly thrown themselves at the connoisseurs of these pageants mostly because of the desperate need to be agbanidaregoed in the near future.
A truly beautiful Nigerian girl may not be the Tiv girl, with biceps tough enough to pound yam for the whole of the Igala community. She may not be the one at the Oba market square in Benin City selling tomatoes with which to eke a living and support her family. She is definitely not the one from Edo State that gets sold for sex in Europe. Neither may she be the one who has to go to the farm to tend to the crops and fetch water from the village stream. If she attends any of the universities here in Nigeria and decides to build a career for herself first before putting a family in place is not the question.But let me tell you, my friend, there are some that I met sometime ago among the Shuwa Arabs in Borno State whose stunning looks took the breath right out of me. At close range, and alas, they had little or no English. They are in some kind of holy seclusion and can only be seen at night, closely escorted by chaperons by escorts. With little or no makeup or wigs, they seem to glow. By some strange coincidence, I had one of them as a friend and what I have not forgotten about Fatima even now is the razor sharp intellect that complemented her physical endowment. At very early ages, most of them are betrothed to their father’s friends and they resume right away the business of producing children. A lot of them have no business with any form of education apart from the Islamic, nomadic type and this is mostly because their culture hardly encourages them ‘too much’ education or exposure, the fear being that they may begin to be Nigerian suffragettes and begin to burn their bras.
My point here is that these girls are Nigerian and their beauty certainly will not be defined by the standards that got Agbani Darego there as Miss Universe. The African or Nigerian girl is not one that should be that svelte or walk like a predator to establish her femininity and grace or carriage. She does not need to strut along on a swimsuit before a large audience for you to appreciate her. She does not need to wear wigs and dance to the steps organised by a paid choreographer before you recognize that she has that physique and mystique associated with the atilogu steps. I know I am beginning to sound like a tigritude exponent but that is the way it is. I do not regret doing this because I believe that what we are here presented as beauties are just brainless copycats who lack any depth of character as Nigerians girls. And mark my words: in this millennium or the next, it will be next to an impossibility for any Nigerian to win in any international ‘beauty’ show. What we should be seriously looking at now is what the compere I mentioned at the beginning suggested (and which I readily subscribe). And it is this: just the way there is a FIFA organised World Cup for the entire universe, and just as we have the FIFA organised EUFA football competition, and just as we have a FIFA organised African Nations Cup, we should now begin to look at how we can arrange African Beauty contests, the standards now not going to be solely based on those of Europe or the Americas but strictly African. You know, it is from here we can actually showcase values, cultures that are either Nigerian or African that may catch the attention and gain the respect of the world.
I’m sorry. At this point of concluding my essay, I could not get my hands on the compere who took us through that reading session at the British Council. Still looking though.