Photograph — Thisday Style


The story of the Nigerian bread seller turned supermodel, Olajumoke Orisaguna, is something several Nigerians have begun to use as a blessing unto themselves.

While many call it a miracle of the moment, others have dismissed it as a set-up or a staged story. “No one believed she just walked past. It occurred to me that if everyone thought she should be a model then maybe she should be one, then the search for her began,” says TY Bello.

Although Jumoke’s story is something many Nigerians wish would happen to them, especially now that the country is faced with economic turmoil, it is clear that some of us think this story can only occur when one finds his/her destiny and there is a ‘right person’ in the picture.

The right person in this story would be TY Bello, ace Nigerian photographer and musician, who happened to be shooting British-Nigerian musician, Tinie Tempah, when Jumoke walked onto the set. By now, everyone knows that it was TY Bello who gave the young mother of two the opportunity which continues opening doors for her now, as she has emerged ambassador for Payporte and Stanbic IBTC. Say what you want about Jumoke’s poor educational background, it does not change the fact that she was meant to be exactly where she is now. 

While I was on a bus home a few days ago, a conversation ensued between two people (we will call them Mr. A and Mr. B) who had different views on how Nigerians should learn from the Olajumoke Orisaguna’s story. Mr. A held that everyone should pray to God for outstanding blessings, so they can stand out like Jumoke, his perspective was saluted with lots of cheering and applause, which is the typical Nigerian way when one expresses an opinion which the majority agrees with. Mr. B however, said, regardless of how bad any Nigerian’s situation is, they are capable of being a TY Bello to someone else. Although his opinion did not raise any kind of applause, it made everyone seated in the bus see more depth to the Jumoke story.

It is true that Nigerians are passing through a tough time with the plummet in oil prices and the fall of the Naira, but we can afford to change the lives of others for the better without breaking a sweat or our bank accounts for that matter. How often have we seen people in desperate need and told ourselves we could do nothing when we know the truth? Mr. B drove his point home when he asked if we all made use of the ‘connections’ we have in our various communities to set another person on a different but better path, this story would not seem so strange.

Think about this for a moment, if TY Bello had just kept shooting Tinie Tempah and ignored Jumoke or decided not to post her photo on instagram to generate the curiosity and a campaign to find out who she is, this story would not exist. Let’s look at it this way, even Cinderella had a fairy godmother. If more Nigerians allowed themselves to be conduits for another’s fairy tale ending, maybe life would be a bit more tolerant in this time of economic duress.

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