By Jennifer Okundia
The night started off with so much expectation from fans, guests, family, and friends as well as the contestants who couldn’t wait to experience the maiden edition of the ‘Figure K8 Pageanytry’ convened by award-winning Nollywood actress and philanthropist Kate Henshaw.
In order to promote Authenticity, Melanin skin colour which is the African complexion that cannot be bought, the 48-year-old Calabar native and mom of one announced the launching of her Figure K8 Agency to help young women accept their skin just the way it is and not make any effort to bleach their bodies. Lala Akindoju was the MC of the day.
Celebrities like Chigurl, Adunni Ade, Ini Edo, Dayo Amusa, Beverly Naya, Faithia Balogun, Banky W, Adesua Etomi, Nancy Isime, RMD, Alibaba, Rita Dominic, Blessing Egbe, Sound Sultan, Ego Boyo, Lala Akindoju, Kate Henshaw, Omawumi, Realwarripikin, Ireti Doyle, Hilda Dokubo, Shaffy Bello, Seyi Law, Maje Ayida amongst others were thrilled as the contestants choreographed to Beyonce’s ‘Brown Skin Girl,’ cementing the essence and confidence of the black skin.
The audience roared with excitement as Omawumi came on stage unexpectedly to relieve fans of the tension from anticipating who the winner of the pageant will be when she performed ”Bottom Belle”. Fans sang along and danced to the rhythm of the beat, screaming on top of their voices for more.
All 13 contestants walked the runway in their colourful native attire while giving a brief introduction of themselves and their views on the black skin and effects of bleaching on the African woman. This segment led to the elimination of 7 contestants by the judges after 6 qualified as semi-finalists.
The peak of the event came when Peter Okoye aka Mr P mounted the stage with his crew as they performed ‘Say Your Love, Temptation’ and other of his songs with dancing skills and charm that sent the crowd screaming with excitement as they sang and danced along.
The round of 6 semi-finalists reduced to 3 when the contestants were asked to choose a portfolio as Nigeria’s minister, describing what they would do with the position. While education, women affairs and the health sectors were selected for a discussion, the judges only seemed pleased with 3 ladies in this category.
Songwriter and vocalist Waje came up to serenade the air with a song she dedicated to her daughter and Sound Sultan rounded off the karaoke session with his ‘Mathematics, Ole, and Motherland’ singles.
22-year-old Delsu student Jane Tailobi finally won the cash prize of N1m after she gained so much love and support from the audience who clapped and gave their approval while she walked with grace, danced with a cute smile plastered on her face and answered questions in the round of 3 finalists.
Elo Oruade emerged the first runner up with a meal plan and one year of beauty products prizes for her position while Josephine Utankpe Agbe went home as the 2nd runner up.
Henshaw brought the event to a close with appreciation to her sponsors, volunteers, friends, colleagues and everyone who showed up to support the ‘Reach Not Bleach’ movement which held at Shell Hall, Muson Centre Lagos, on Thursday, March 5th 2020.
”In a statement, she said ”Being Black is not a symbol of shame, rather it is of national greatness, I was telling one of the journalists out there that after this event I was going to ask my friend why she changed her colour, we were in school together, dark and beautiful. I looked through Facebook some years ago and she was Rita’s colour, I’m like wow what happened, I wasn’t sure if I should ask her or not, and every time I scroll through I see her and other people around me are changing, there’s something wrong somewhere. I had this fairly desire, you know me, those that know me, know If I have a bone, I chew it down to powder, So I went and met Alibaba, he’s the custodian of many things, he started writing and doing research, gave me two young people to work with and we started, if you follow the Figure K8 page, everything is there, I said let me show them a sample.”
”There must be some beautiful queens out there, the darker the berry the sweeter the juice. There must be people out there who are interested in showcasing who they are on the inside rather than the outside, you can reach anywhere you want to reach, look at me, look at Gbemi Shasore, Beverly Naya, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, so many, not forgetting my follow come yellow pawpaw, Rita, Hilda, Chigurl and the rest of the yellows. So I started asking for entries and then somehow somebody said I’m going to give you N1m for the prize,
‘Ah Money have entered,’ they have to come here to this stage, you can’t give money over, or do a giveaway, come here let’s see, let’s do it well, there’s no swimsuit all you men, I’m not about swimsuit sorry to disappoint you if you came for that, you can be going, And we are here today just generally encouraging, empowering and telling them they are so good and they are more than their skin colour, and of course God didn’t make a mistake, how boring the world would be if we are all yellow or if we are all black.”
”We are different shades of beauty, no one should be told that you are too dark to make it or you are too yellow, so you’ve made it, no we are all God’s creatures and he’s a perfect being, we have light on the inside of us that we need to put out there so that others will not be afraid to put on their torch lights as well. I hope you enjoyed it very much, I hope you support the girls, give them roles, all of you that are my friends, I will push my girls inside, welcome to Figure K8 global Pageant.”
There’s the attraction to light skin and discrimination towards those with dark skin, making those who are not confident enough in their complexion bleach their bodies to a fairer version, just to be acceptable in society. The Figure K8 movement puts her feet on the ground to say Black don’t crack, black is beautiful, promote dark skin, self-confidence and empowerment of these women to lead better lives.
Pictures: Ayodele Efunla