By Josephine Igbinovia-Agbonkhese
Everything works like Harry Potter’s spell when crowns rest on the heads of the likes of passionate, gorgeous and cheerful Nancy-Olive Aisagbonhi. Nancy-Olive is the reigning Queen of Cross River State’s annual Calabar Carnival Pageant.
Fuelled by an untainted ambition to be remembered as the queen who turned around the lives of teenagers, Nancy is melting the hearts of misguided teens and quelling awful teenage tendencies in the State of Cross River.
Her tenure as the Face of Mothers Against Child Abandonment, MACA, has seen many street children rehabilitated, returned to school and reunited with their families.
The awesomely articulate queen who says more parents should encourage children to be beauty queens had a chat with Feminista in Calabar.
Tell us more about your background…
Growing up was fun despite being an only child because I had very loving and supportive family and friends who believed in me. I’m currently studying Chemistry at the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State.
You mean your parents allowed you participate in a beauty pageant without fearing you might become promiscuous being an only child?
Yes, they did. The notion we have about beauty queens being promiscuous is really false because beauty pageants are organized to bring out role models for youths. Children who want to become beauty queens should be encouraged to because it simply gives one an opportunity to change lives.
Did you think you were going to emerge winner of the Calabar Carnival pageant?
It’s normal to think you’re going to win when you’re about to enter for a contest. But I tell you, I no longer thought I was going to win when I got into camp and saw there were a lot of beautiful, intelligent, smart girls. I didn’t think I stood a chance but as God would have it, I won.
And how has life been as a reigning beauty queen?
It’s awesome and glamorous, like what you see in the movies. But then, it has the stressful days when you have to work for hours. Though, when you think about the fact that you’re impacting lives, you just cannot get tired.
You’re said to be helping the First Lady of Cross River State achieve her vision for women and children…
That’s correct. As the Carnival Calabar Queen, I am the Face of MACA which is strictly a non-governmental organization run by Her Excellency, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke. What we do is cater for children and ensure their rights are protected. MACA has a couple of projects which include Destiny Child Centre; A State Fit for A Child, ASFAC, and more, but the most interesting is the Destiny Child Center where we rehabilitate street children, put them back in school and then reunite them with their families. Where necessary, we set up businesses for their parents so they do not send the child off to the streets again. Most of the children collected from the streets have been accused of witchcraft and sent out of home because of certain ill-luck that befell their parents. This syndrome is ebbing though.
How many people have benefited from this center?
We’ve had a lot of inmates at the center since 2009 that it was established. Currently, we have over 70. Recently, we had a reintegration ceremony where about 23 of the students were reintegrated with their parents. It was quite emotional meeting with their parents after such a long time.
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