It was a moment of uncommon glitz at Standard Bearers School, Lekki Lagos, recently when 14 young deaf girls took to the runway to show strength and creativity in spite of their disability.
The 14 contested in the first Most Beautiful Deaf Girl in Nigeria (MBDGN) pageant.
The pageant offered the audience great excitement amid creative display of skills by the ‘supergirls’, goof music and dance performances.
Although all the contestants were incredibly active and dexterous in their various talent exhibitions, only one was chosen.
Maria Okese, 21 years old Miss Rivers State, stole the hearts of the judges with her soothing objectives for the deaf to clinch the first Most Beautiful Deaf Girl in Nigeria (MBDGN) 2019.
With her victory, Okese will represent Nigeria at the 2020 Miss Deaf World in Prague, Czech Republic.
She emerged winner among 14 contestants across 13 states including: Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Ebonyi, Ogun, Anambra, Edo, Benue, Rivers, Ogun, Kwara and Abuja.
While Okese was top among the five finalists, Odedina Rebecca of Lagos and Anambra’s Columba Chinazo emerged first and second runner ups, respectively.
Okese, a professional photographer and art enthusiast, said she would create awareness on the issues of raising the standard of education for deaf children, motivate especially the deaf in Rivers State to contribute to the society despite their disabilities.
For her and the other girls, it was thanks to Tolu Oke-Igaire, Nigeria’s foremost clinical relationship and marriage counsellor and CEO, MBDGN.
Although impaired, she expressed herself in tears, laughter, and gesticulations. It was vividly written all over her.
Although deaf, they gave the most beautiful, transparent and innocent expressions smothered with spotless smiles. Their only disabilities are speech and hearing impediments.
According to the organisers, the MBDGN pageant is beyond show of beauty and brain. It is a platform canvassing inclusion for the deaf in the in the society; classroom, playground, work and social places.
Despite their speech impairments, Uri Ngozichukwuka, CEO, Empathy Driven Women International Initiative (EDWIN), gave them a voice to be heard always.
“When it comes to the issue of disability inclusion, the Nigerian entertainment industry still lags among the rest of the world,” she said.
She decried that the notion of disability inclusion is novel in Nigeria and many parts of Africa.
“The entertainment industry is supposed to be the vanguard to set the pace when it comes to boosting access to the production and consumption of creative content by People with Disabilities (PWDs)”, she expressed.
To further drive home her point, she listed creating awareness, advocacy, spatial justice and affirmative action as balm for the entertainment and beauty industries to correct the anomaly.