Ms Angela Onyeador
By Eddy Odivwri
For years, she held the Lagos social scene hostage. Her presence at any social event helped to define the gravitas of the occasion. It was as a result of people like Ms Angela Onyeador, that the word “socialite” gained popularity.
The joke was often told that super beautiful people like Angela must have been created on a Monday, when God rested on Sabbath day.
But Sunday, the silky and tender skin, embroidered on the elegant frame and curves of Angela were seized, eternally, by the cold hands of death. She died in her 50s while receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness in the United States of America.
In recent years, she had quietly disappeared from the public dais, as her elegant personality became scarce at public functions. Many speculated that she had a life-threatening ailment. But as it is with high-flying personalities, her illness became such classified information which only left people guessing why Angela was no longer “in circulation".
But while she circulated, Angela Onyeador was a regular staple on the celebrity scene in the Lagos arena. Her well-heeled graceful carriage always earned her premium ratings in society’s social index.
She probably hit a top note when she organised a beauty pageant that produced an equally charming Diana Ndoye in the 1980s. The success of that event launched Angela into the klieg lights of prized social settings. And from that moment, she moved from strength to strength. This perhaps explains why she grew influential, if not powerful.
With her ‘Grade A’ connections among the high and mighty of society, she once explained that her circle of “big friends” and allies were largely people she grew up with or schooled with over the years. Expectedly, this mix with society’s bigwigs resulted in the odd mild scandal that did little to dull her personality. Her celebrated relationship with former Senate President, the late Dr Chuba Okadigbo, is one such case.
She was bold, courageous, impressive and more evidently, a fashion aficionado. This was apparent through her strong tilt to Afro-centrism in her fashion sense; such as the beautiful dresses made from adire and other local fabrics that she wore with aplomb. Her signature hairstyle stood her out in a crowd. Her beauty was both charming and enchanting, so much so that men with little self confidence felt safer avoiding an encounter with her.
She later founded the African Foundation for Arts, a platform she used in advancing her love of the arts. She had over 200 art items in her gallery
Angela had a childhood grounded on life and values. Her parents, Alexander and Beatrice Onyeador, gave her a comfortable upper middle class upbringing.
She had two sisters and a brother. One of her elder sisters was Stella, who married the late Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Stella died early last year. The marriage did not produce any child.
Reliving her childhood experiences to a national newspaper, she said: “I had two sisters and one brother. We were living in Shell camp in Port Harcourt, which was an exclusive camp for white people many years ago. We were the only black family there and it was sheer luxury. We had everything. They would bring us clean sheets every Saturday and go away with the old ones. We had an Olympic size swimming pool; we even had a lovely club house. I am short of saying I was born with a platinum spoon.”
When she finished from the primary school in the Shell camp, she proceeded to the prized Queens College, Lagos, where she discovered her talent and bias for the arts – fine art and music. She wanted to pursue a career in the arts but her parents insisted such courses were not befitting enough. She thus enrolled at the Slade School of Arts, University College, London, where she eventually bagged a degree in Psychology.
An indigene of Arochukwu, Abia State, Onyeador was instrumental to matchmaking Kanu Nwankwo, the footballer, with his wife, Amarachi, who was Angela’s neice.
Enchanting as she was, Angela never felt very comfortable being described as a celebrity, because according to her, the word suffers great abuse in Nigeria. Hear her: I would prefer if you told me I am a well groomed lady and add I am well brought up, well dressed. All those I will accept. The word celebrity does not mean anything, neither is it complimentary. Without sounding pompous, there are lots of other people that are called celebrities that I hate to be in the same room with.”