Read excerpts from an article written by Reuben Abati titled – Olajumoke Orisaguna: The Nigerian Cinderella. This section of the piece captures my worry perfectly. Read below:
“The Olajumoke Orisaguna story is a perfect demonstration of the witchcraft quality of photography and that single shot that has changed a life may well be one of TY Bello’s most remarkable efforts in her chosen genre. But I find around Olajumoke’s sudden transformation from person to brand, too much capitalist hypocrisy and opportunism. The brand is selling like hot cake, but the person needs protection. I feel for her. I fear for her. There is a sense in which she is a potential victim. The brand experts now taking her from place to place probably would not have even patronized her. They don’t eat the kind of bread that she sold.Many of them don’t even know what part of Lagos is called Sabo. They don’t buy their bread from hawkers; they would rather go to supermarkets or confectionery stores. Before luck smiled on this young lady, many of those now posing for photos with her would never have noticed her presence. There are definitely many of her type, still hawking bread, or some other items, some even sitting in front of the bank, with a baby strapped to the back, but they may never be noticed or helped. The same companies that are using Olajumoke to talk about corporate social responsibility, are actually joking, they know that this is not CSR; it is brand exploitation!And it may not last. There is nothing in Olajumoke’s background or exposure that has prepared her for the life of glitz being imposed on her. The skills she has acquired as a bread seller and hair stylist may not carry her far in the cruel world of modeling. When this blitz is over, she will need to compete for jobs and attention, if she must remain a model. She will have to learn sooner or later, to survive on her own. She will have to maintain the luxury apartment that she has been given. She has been taught fancy dressing, including the magic of make up and those magical colours that change a dull face into a phallus-teasing one do not come cheap.She is at best an art work that other people have created: she has been made up into a siren, her hitherto dull skin now glows, in one photo, her hair had a queenly allure, they have given her new clothes, jazzing her up, to look feminine and sensual, and they have taught her how to smile in a tempting manner. Wow. That smile! The sorry part of it all is that her narrative is quite innocent and hauntingly brief, as is the case with all overnight sensations. The capitalist hypocrites will soon find something else to excite them, just as the media will find a new story. It probably would have been much better to help Olajumoke Orisaguna set up a small-scale business, to take her off the street-life of hawking, rather than this world of sharks into which she has been thrown. Perhaps the best that has been done for her is sending her on internship at beauty salons. She could at least set up a beauty salon of her own and live happily thereafter.In a normal society, no young woman should be on the streets hawking bread in order to survive. In a normal society, Olajumoke Orisaguna would have been given the opportunity to go to school, and have a proper career. She is being given, all within three weeks, the kind of empowerment that society has denied her and many like her, but how about all the other Olajumokes who may never “photobomb” their way to luck? Her new life is a reminder of what she could have been but which she could not become because of the kind of society in which she has found herself. She should never have had to hawk bread to support her husband and children.Her husband! Yes, Mr. Sunday Orisaguna. I have seen him in the photographs, either carrying their baby, or just putting up appearance. He looks lost, confused, overwhelmed, harassed and uncertain. He must be wondering what has happened or is happening to the woman he married. There is a clear difference between Olajumoke, the wife and bread seller, and Olajumoke, the model and celebrity. While Olajumoke is beginning to wear designer clothes, her humble husband is still managing his one-day-me-too-go-jam-luck attires. His wife has been sent to finishing school. By the time she finishes, I hope her new persona will not finish her marriage.Olajumoke is now learning to speak English, but her husband is a humble, sliding door installer who probably speaks only Yoruba. In our kind of society, given the social level and cultural background of the parties involved, it won’t be long before the demons will begin to crawl out of the woods, from in-laws who may begin to psycho-analyse Olajumoke, to family members who will scrutinize her every gesture, and friends with whom she hawked bread and has now left behind.Lack of clarity over role interpretation and the new persona could also confuse the young mother. She needs a different set of skills to manage new relationships, especially the new friends coming her way, including those lecherous uncles who may show up and seek to exploit her innocence. The people turning her into a sex symbol should also tarry a while, and remember that she is a married mother of two. She needs counseling. And her sliding door installer husband, who has featured in her fairytale so far as a hanger-on, no matter what happens, should not be made to slide away. Sunday Orisaguna should also be counseled, given new clothes, taught English and sent to finishing school. He should not be left behind.”
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