Tuesday 13 September 2016

Who 'Killed' Olajumoke Orisaguna the Former Agege Bread-Seller-Turned-Supermodel?

This piece tends to revisit the thrilling story of the unparalleled rise of Olajumoke Orisaguna from squalor to 'stardom' after photobombing the set of a celebrity photographer, TY Bello.
According to reports, Olajumoke invaded a photo-shoot of Tinie Tempah for a ThisDay Style cover feature on the street of Lagos in early February, 2016 which later served as a watershed for the big smile of fortune on her. But this short-lived fairy tale again exposes the sham and hollow in the showbiz industry where Lagos State dominates.

That part of Lagos is as worrisome as a beautiful edifice furnished ostentatiously with modern infrastructural facilities but without a foundation. A close study has proven that the show business industry is all about hype, packaging and rebranding of mostly untrusted quality of products. Historically, a vivid example is the case of Eedris Abdulkareem, a Nigerian musician who was paraded by Kennis Music record label in the 90s as one of the best rappers in Nigeria and Africa simply because he was 'speaking in tongues' on a beat - biblically a language not understandable to the devil himself not to talk of mere mortals. For a very long time, we listeners fell for Eedris' musical prowess till Ruggedman pulled the wool off our eyes.

I felt for Olajumoke, 27 as she was railroaded to the top as a 'super model' when deep inside of our hearts we knew she wasn't even a model not to talk of including the prefix 'super'. As expected, Nigerian celebrities by virtue of their 'afefeyeye character' (cosmetic nature) jumped into the fray and welcomed the novice into their cliques with several picture updates on social media like it was a reality show.

Olajumoke was made to sit on a royal chair with broken legs by Lagosians, hence; her sudden 'death' on social media. Its no news that the internet sensation, Olajumoke who defied the principle of building on a concrete foundation to achieve life goals has gone on inapprehensible hibernation. Her Instagram page of about 123,000 followers has become more deserted than the Aso Rock Villa when former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan lost in the 2015 presidential election.

It would be recalled that the Olajumoke frenzy on social media in February and subsequent months was so massive that her shine overshadowed the first class University of Lagos graduate, Ayodele Daniel Dada who finished with an epic Cumulative Grade Point Average of 5.0.

The graduate of Psychology at some point became an object of mockery on social media as memes were conventionally churned out to create humour out a myopic comparison of him with Olajumoke. It took the intervention of the University of Lagos Alumni Association and South African telecommunication giant, MTN to give the 29-year old a new lease of hope. MTN reportedly gave him the latest Samsung phone, personalized number and airtime for the year 2016 while the alumni association purportedly gifted him N500,000.

Before the Nigerian House of Representatives member, Femi Gbajabiamila of Surelere 1 federal constituency discovered Ayodele, reports went viral that the genius was close to being evicted by his landlord in Lagos over failure to pay his house rent. It took the assistance of African American singer and entrepreneur, Dencia White to raise funds for his debt.

Critical minds will wonder why such a rare feat by Mr. Ayodele Dada was ignored by the top companies and other small and medium-sized enterprises lobbying an Olajumoke that became a celebrity by sheer luck and 'social media coincidence'. The answers are not farfetched; the corporate bodies seeking her attention only selfishly wanted their shares of the buzz. Since the highly potent social media spotlight was beamed on her, they wanted to tag along and create more awareness about their businesses. The Olajumoke news which almost became a prayer point in Churches had gotten international with Cable News Network, (CNN), a top Indian site - Indiatoday.in, Channels TV making coverage. Tinie Tempah, an established Nigerian rapper in the United Kingdom whose photo-shoot she barged into also gave her a mention on social media.

This called for the inclusion of Olajumoke in their top priority list of promotional strategies based on simply hoggish interests and no sincere desire to develop the subject of the story.

Olajumoke continued to bag endorsements and cash gifts. She became the face of Payporte - an e-commerce company, brand ambassador of Shirley Confectionery in Abuja, secured a free luxury apartment that was fully furnished from Sujimoto Construction Limited owned by Sijibomi Ogundele, she reportedly received a half a million naira cash gift from the owner of Biobak Restaurant, Mrs Abiodun Obakin, and also an educational trust funds for her kids courtesy of Stanbic IBTC amongst others. What about Ayodele Dada, the genius? The needed scholarship or even an employment opportunity was never recorded during the buzz.

Tell me you didn't laugh when Olajumoke was invited to 'The Play Forum' (an event dedicated to inspiring political leadership among youths) scheduled to hold at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja Congress Hall in February, 2016 to be a motivational speaker. My piece isn't borne out of jealousy, cynicism or hatred but some hard words of truth must be told so that we can advance as a country.

Ace Nigerian comedian, Bright Okpocha a.k.a Basketmouth also publicly laughed out about Olajumoke's overnight status as a 'motivational speaker'. According to him, he feared Olajumoke could be voted as the next National Chairman of the People's Democratic Party, PDP to quell the leadership tussle within the opposition party due to the massive public support she garnered. I took my time to scroll through the comment section of the post on Basketmouth's Instagram page to sample the opinions of commenters but to my astonishment, a large section of his fans affirmed their belief in Olajumoke's candidacy. Jesus wept!

Realistically, motivational and public speaking acts are skills that are not possessed by all human beings although the skills could be acquired through organised training. A young woman of Olajumoke's below average status who was alien to fame, lights-camera-action, formal education and the paparazzi would certainly lack confidence to stand in front of such a hallowed crowd to speak.

She doesn't even speak or vividly understand English language which is another stain on her intrepidity that could expose her to intimidation in public.

I also can't fathom how the organisers of the programme were hoping to forge out something 'motivational' from Olajumoke's story to appeal to the consciousness of such an audience. This is my personal feeling and the good thing is that it doesn't count.

I applaud Stanbic IBTC for the educational trust fund for Olajumoke's two kids but the bitter truth is that trying to get a small-scale business loan from the banking sector as an entrepreneur may amount to making a camel pass through the eye of a needle if you don't have adequate collateral security regardless of the beauty of your proposal or the economic impact of the idea you nurse.

Olajumoke's story became contagious as a UK-based Nigerian photographer, Daniel Sync also tried in discovering a male version of an 'Olajumoke'. He snapped a windscreen cleaner on the streets of Lagos who dresses corporately to do his menial job. The man, Abdullahi Olatoye, a University of Ilorin drop-out got the attention of CNN through a mention on Twitter and the news went viral.

This particular episode of the 'reality show' featured a Nigerian topnotch stylist and fashion designer, Uche Nnaji who took Olatoye in with a publicized vision to mentor him and upgrade his socioeconomic status. Olatoye according to revelations from a dirty outburst on social media claims he was paraded at social gatherings as a 'new man' that had found a life with beautiful clothes for mere camouflage while he was empty inside.

The young man who was reduced to someone who couldn't afford this transport fare home had to abandon the celebrity world and face reality.

This instance again paints the image of futility behind the glossy pictures in seemingly exotic clothes and bright smiles worn by the so-called stars as they hang out in topnotch locations that arouse and taunt the feelings of others purposely.

Fast-forward to September 12, the entire Olajumoke gist died with uncertain hopes of  resurrection. The silence has been so loud that a foremost Nigerian movie producer and director, Charles Novia cried out on his Facebook page with no response. Was Olajumoke used and dumped?

Online media practitioners would recall that Olajumoke's publicity was so massive that pictures of her movements were churned out from all angles with her repeated stories earning more views than a leaked sex tape. Today, not even a recent picture of hers has been uploaded on her Instagram page in over 7 weeks (press time).

Olajumoke whose story was so trending that correspondents of the Nigerian Tribune Newspapers painstakingly traveled down to her hometown in Iree, Osun to interview her family members seems to have been hijacked by egocentric handlers. She dumped her first modeling company, Few Models Agency to sign to Beth Model Africa for better modeling deals till we read the company doesn't recognize her as a model but just an individual whose public image needs to be improved.

Her handlers in a bid to rake in cash in her name lured her into opening a foundation for the poor and the vulnerable woman was reported to have distributed a sum of N200,000 to her former colleagues selling bread. Till date, nobody hears of the foundation. My fear is that very soon, Sujimoto - the young Nigerian billionaire who provided a luxury apartment for her in Lagos could quietly evict her and her family in the middle of the night since the Olajumoke fever is over and the economic recession makes her highly expendable.

Payporte, Shirley Confectioneries and other top brands she is signed to could also back out on a stealthy note like they never met. So what happens then? God forbid she goes back to the street selling the Agege bread.

It burns the heart that nobody ever reported a business investment being associated with Olajumoke as a contingency plan she could fall back on in the course of any unforeseen circumstance in her walk down the road of stardom.

I feel for Olajumoke, and I hope the young woman and her family don't return to the ugly life they left behind. It is a cold world where sinister motives are mostly disguised as favours especially in a resource-strained place like Lagos where everything is a business opportunity.

Osayimwen Osahon George
Associate Writer and Editor at Tori.ng

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