Beauty pageants have for many years been opening doors for young and talented ladies all over the world. As the world of pageants declines in relevance especially in Nigeria, one pageant, Miss Kanekalon, is bucking the trend; by striving to show Africa and the world what African beauty really is by impacting on young ladies across West Africa.
The pageant is hair industry specific, looks for smart and stunning young women who can become ambassadors for Kanekalon, a leading manufacturer of synthetic fibers/hair in the world, with partners in Darling, Nina and X-Pression.
The delightful Benahili Ojeme Faith emerged as Miss Kanekalon 2016, driving home with a brand new Nissan Altima 2016, and a whopping cash prize of N2million. Ghana’s very own, Mahalia Bamford, the first runner-up and Opaluwa Ojotule Tamarai, second runner-up also received N1.5million and N1million respectively.
Recently, we got an opportunity to sit down with these lovely ladies to reminisce about the 2016 triumphs and their goals and aspirations for the year ahead.
See transcript of interview below:
What was growing up like for the three of you?
Benahili: Hmm, growing up had its up and downs, but I am grateful for a mother who always believed in me and made it a point of duty to remind me about the importance of persistence and never giving up to attain great heights in life.
Mahalia: In my case, it was quite difficult and with a lot of confusing moments as a child, but such experiences made me strong, I also had the support of my family.
Opaluwa: Growing up for me was fun, having parents daunting over me and giving their undivided attention, however, once the family grew, so did the burdens, that’s when I knew I had to become responsible.
What inspired you to compete, in your case Benahili for a second time?
Benahili: Well, knowing that I barely missed the crown in 2015, the encouragement I got from my family and friends inspired me to compete once more. Then with my dogged nature and belief in persistence and perseverance there was really nothing to lose at my second attempt at wearing the crown
Bena, did you ever envisage losing again?
Benahili: Oh yes!, and this was my major concern because losing again would definitely have messed up my self-esteem and confidence, but I was convinced that God bringing me back in 2016 is for a reason greater than any of us could imagine.
Mahalia and Opaluwa, what were your expectations?
Mahalia: I expected to learn something new, meet new people, go to new places, and of course successfully become Miss K 2016 to achieve my goal of empowering young African ladies
Opaluwa; Hmm, being the first beauty pageant I applied for, I wasn’t sure of what to expect. I had all sorts of expectations, though I was glad that most of the prerequisites for participating were different from other pageants I am familiar with. Since I had all sorts of expectations, it would be right to say that all positive expectations were met and some even surpassed.
Did the thought of losing the competition cross your mind?
Opaluwa: At some point, the thought of losing did cross my mind and scared me as well, but I considered it a privilege to be a finalist for the 2016 edition
Mahalia: In my view, I never thought of losing, though I met a lot of great ladies who were also very serious about winning. Making it to Nigeria as a Ghana finalist already made me a winner.
How did the grooming camp affect you?
Benahili: Being at the Kanekalon beauty camp taught me the importance of etiquette, and also the do’s and don’ts of being a modern lady….(smiles)
Mahalia: As young ladies during the grooming camp, we had a few misunderstandings amongst us but the good thing is, we made an effort to settle and bond again, and this made the stay at the camp a very nice one
Opaluwa: It was informative and fun all the way! (all laugh)
How did your stylist react when you were announced the winner?
Benahili: I don’t think I have ever seen Sekinat that happy!, seeing her that happy and knowing that I did not disappoint her made me even happier!
Miss Ojeme, do you think that winning the coveted Miss K 2016 crown was worth it?
Benahili: Yes!!!!, winning Miss K 2016 opened more opportunities for me, an example would be in my career as a part time model, quite a number of photographers and fashion designers request to work with me on a daily/weekly basis.
Mahalia & Opaluwa, what lessons did you learn from the competition?
Mahalia: Kanekalon has helped me learn a lot about the importance of good interpersonal relationships, how to be a good team player, to be graceful; beautiful inside and outside, time management and so on. I must take this opportunity to thank our grooming camp instructor Mrs. Ngozi Chantal Caulcrick…..she is amazing!
Opaluwa: Oh a lot! But mostly I learned to believe in myself, be open to learn new things and to be the best version of me (giggles).
What would you say about Kanekalon?
Opaluwa: I would say Kanekalon is not just a name, but a pioneering hair and beauty brand. Kanekalon celebrates you and I, the true face of African beauty, and young ladies should be a part of our Kanekalon family
Mahalia: I would say Kanekalon is truly about crowning the African beauty
Benahili: To me, Kanekalon is simply amazing! I can go on and on about its numerous qualities, but my favourite is how soft, tangle free, easy and convenient it is
What advice would you give aspiring Kanekalon applicants?
Benahili: My advice would be, DO not let your present predicament dictate/limit you from being ambitious. Work hard, improve yourself and believe.
Mahalia: Mine would be to tell all aspiring applicants that Miss Kanekalon is one of the greatest opportunities and platform for a young lady to gain exposure and become a better person. Thank you Kanekalon!
Opaluwa: I would say that if you can dream it. You can be it. Yes! Thank you Kanekalon
Benahili, how has the pageant changed your life?
Benahili: First of all I want to say a BIG thank you to Kanekalon for the opportunity.
Winning the pageant and becoming Miss Kanekalon 2016 has expanded my horizon, it has blessed me with self-fulfillment and the social exposure has been amazing.
For all the ladies out there follow my journey on our Kanekalon Africa Facebook page, and look forward to being crowned Miss Kanekalon 2017…..see you there!