Tarere Obaigbo: 2021 Mrs. Nigeria Gears Up for Global Stage

Few months after emerging winner of the 2021 edition of Mrs. Nigeria in March, Tarere Obaigbo is set to take on the rest of the world at the global stage at the forthcoming Mrs. World Pageant. The beauty queen from Edo State will be the first Nigerian to participate in the prestigious beauty pageant billed to hold in Las Vegas, US between January 9 and 16, 2022. While representing Nigeria as a contestant, she is also billed to be the country guest at the Mrs Universe, Mrs Globe and Mrs United Nations. In this interview with MARY NNAH, Obaigbo popularly known as Oreime, while highlighting some of her achievements, which she believes speak volumes, also unfolded her plans to give quality representation at the competition

What motivated you to go into this and what do you hope to achieve afterwards?

I have always loved pageantry and I have done so many pageants right from when I was very young. I have always been drawn to pageants so much that at every competition that I have participated in, has always engaged me in serious concerns.

So when I saw Mrs. Nigeria I felt that this was an opportunity for me. Mrs. Nigeria is different from the Miss Nigeria pageant. The Mrs. Nigeria pageant focuses more on the things that you have already achieved as a woman and then on how you intend to impact the lives of women especially in Nigeria.

I have always loved pageant but since I got married, I just left that space but by the time I saw the criteria for Mrs. Nigeria – a non-bikini beauty pageant for married women between the ages of 23-45 years and you have to have an existing project, you have to have empowered and impacted on women, I felt this was something I really wanted to be part of. I felt this was something that will change the face of pageantry and also show the world the gorgeous women we have in Nigeria.

Mrs. Nigeria is also looking to put a new face to the married woman, which is the reason why I am so excited about this. As African women, the moment we get married, a lot of us remove ourselves from the stage and our interaction with people is reduced. You can even see this in how most beauty queens act once they get married – they just disappear from the limelight and their projects disappear with them.

Mrs. Nigeria is more about women showing the world that you can still make a difference and look good even after marriage. It is showing the world that we can still look good and make an impact even after marriage and kids.

So, I couldn’t have done otherwise seeing the possibilities inherent in such beauty competition that gives married women the opportunity to exhibit their potentials and achievements and not just their beauty and physical endowments alone.

What makes this different from all other pageants you have participated in?

The Mrs Nigeria competition is quite a deviation from the regular norm for beauty pageants. There is a particular connotation about pageants generally. And when it comes to Miss. Pageant, you begin to imagine the things you look forward to; they are more or less asking them from the point of view of the potential they have. But Mrs. Pageant’s version is not asking you about potentials, you are qualified by the virtue of what you have brought to the table – Womanhood, the fact that you are building a legacy or that you have built one and thirdly, responsibility. So, it is not just for the beauty alone, but you are bringing beauty, brain and achievement to show for it.

The competition debuted in Lagos in 2017 and has since then produced winners at each edition, what was the attraction for you?

I am attracted to this competition because it is quite a departure from what beauty pageantries are originally known for. In Miss Nigeria or Miss World for instance, they are more or less asking for participation from the angle or perspective of the potentials the contestants have.

But for this Mrs Nigeria/World version they are not talking about potentials as you are only qualified by virtue of what you have brought to the table already. So, Mrs World is about womanhood, building legacy and responsibility. To put it in a better way, it is about beauty, brains and achievements.

Now you are going to represent Nigeria at the global stage. How prepared are you for this?

I believe I am a purpose driven individual who thrives to make a society a better place through advocacy for environmental sustainability and empowerment programmes. As a result I am currently running different PET projects towards realising this goal. They include the Gathering Africa, which is a bi-monthly spoken word event, which is meant to boost culture and creativity among Nigerians and indeed Africans. The Gathering Africa is about poetry and eloquence.

Most of us in The Gathering are writers. We love the act of writing but you find out that there isn’t as much financial reward for the art and the passion. So The Gathering is pretty much creating a platform, whereby newbies writers, poets and musicians come together to share their ideas and also be empowered. We usually give funding to students and also source for very talented students and bring them together to encourage them to do more and to aspire to continue with their passion.

I have another project called Ecoprolive. It is designed to create awareness on the importance of making the environment clean and green. Here volunteers come together, go to different water areas and clean the shorelines. We have gone to different beaches in Lagos.

The third is called the F4A Initiative, an acronym for Food for All, meant to feed the less privileged and disadvantaged in the society. What we do is that once a year; we go out there, cook and try to feed at least 3,000 people.

Those are the three projects that have been ongoing and right now, with the Mrs. Nigeria platform and other subsequent platforms, we are looking to expand to reach more people and see how we can get more West African countries on board and then show the world that black is beautiful.

The fact that this is the first time Nigeria will be represented at such a big stage makes it even more interesting and instructive. I feel highly motivated to represent the country on such a big platform that parades the most inspiring women across different parts of the world with beauty, intelligence and achievements to show. I promise to make my participation count for the good of the country.

I am happy to be in the midst of great women all across the world that have been successful too in their respective countries. As I speak, we have a WhatsApp platform where we have been connecting and relating with one another on some of the projects we are doing in our various countries.

We have been sharing ideas on how to improve on our projects in a way that can be more felt and appreciated by the people. Women will do better to inspire others with their achievements and lofty attainments and not give in to the stereotype which condemns their roles only to the kitchen.

You are an African woman married to an African man and everyone knows what that means. So what has been the society’s reaction and to what extent is your husband supporting you on all of these?

It is important that we change our perception of pageantry in Africa generally, which is also a problem that we generally have in Nigeria, in the sense that pageants are platforms for women to showcase their uniqueness. But a lot of Africans have misconstructions about what pageants are and so a lot of these people have abused the term pageantry. However, Mrs. Nigeria comes to maintain the standard of what a pageant should be. Mrs. Nigeria is not just a pageant but a platform where women come together and they don’t see it as I am competing with you because I am more beautiful than you are. It is more about we are here together to learn and share with each other. And at the end of the day we say, this is the person that can represent us out there.

Talking about the extent to which my husband supports me, I would say that my husband is very supportive and he is always there for me. He is my friend. Although initially when I told him I was going for the pageant, he didn’t believe me. He thought I was joking. But he knows that I have always been involved in pageants and he knows I have always loved pageants.

When I told him about this pageant, he didn’t even think about it and in fact he thought I was joking until I told him I was going for the Mrs. Nigeria camp. He was like what camp and when I explained everything to him, especially the criteria for the pageant, he said okay – “this fits what your brand has always been about”, and he encouraged me that if I wish to grow on what I was doing, it was important that I expose myself to a national platform. He was with me on the day of the pageant when I won; he came on stage.

So what did you get for winning Mrs. Nigeria?

I got a million naira but it is more of a support fund for whatever project you are working on.

What is your expectation for Nigerian women? And if you win the global competition coming up in January next year how would that help the Nigerian women?

The journey of the Nigerian woman has been very long and tedious in the sense that we have been relegated to the background. Now women have worked so hard to get themselves into relevant positions in various sectors of the economy. Even at the workplaces, a lot of women are underpaid.

Women put in so much into whatever they do and yet women are overlooked a lot of time and regarded as unimportant and this affects a lot of things. But the most important thing is that every generation must endeavour to create a platform that the next generation can stand on.

For the first time in Nigeria, we are able to produce someone that is going to represent not just Nigeria but West African in a pageant that is keenly contested globally.

Nigeria has never participated in Mrs. World pageant and we don’t even have anybody in West Africa that has participated. I think in Africa as a whole only about five countries have actively participated.

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