Third childÂ of a family of five children and born to a diplomat father, growing up for Glory Chukwu, current Most Beautiful Girl In Nigeria (MBGN) 2009 was one filled with fun and a lot of travelling. And this also meant she was never steady in one country for more than four years.Glory Chukwu who flew the nationâ€™s flag at the last December held, Miss world beauty pageant in South Africa, frowned at the declining quality of the contestants saying, â€œAt the Miss World beauty pageant, breast, buttock and facial enhancements seem to have placed natural beauty permanently in the back seatâ€.
By Amadi Ogbonna, Entertainment Editor, and Bridget Amaraegbu
What went through your mind when you found yourself in the top 5 of the contest, and then the last two?
Well at that point, I wasnâ€™t still sure if I was going to win or not because I knew it could have been any other person. I didnâ€™t think it would have been me until I was announced the winner.
Would you have been contended with the first runner-up slot?
Yes. When I was picking the form for the pageant, my dream was to be in the top 10. I wasnâ€™t actually going for the crown because Iâ€™d heard so much about one havingÂ to know someone or do one thing or the other to win. So I was contended being in the last five and then the last two.
So getting to that point meant that you must have knownÂ somebody…..
No, that was when I realised that all they said about knowing someone wasnâ€™t true.
Yes, at least in my time it wasnâ€™t true.
Why did you get into the contest? Was it just a game for you?
Iâ€™d wanted to go in for it the year before but I didnâ€™t make it during the screening. So I told myself that I would try again.
Last year, I bought the form right at the screening ground and filled it because there was no information on the website as to where and when we could pick the forms. All I did was to make phone calls to find out the day of the screening.
So what was camp life like?
Camp was fun, interesting and stressful but it was good.
Fun and stressful?
At night, we rested and had time to think about all that happened through the day. The stressful part of it was having to wear high heeled shoes all day, not going to bed when we wanted to and not waking up when we wanted to as well. Then, once in a while, one of your camp mates could get to your nerves. They really made me cry at some point.
What did they say to you that made you cry?
I had an argument with one of girls representing Kogi State over who was to make her hair first on the night before the pre-pageant. So everyone of us was were under some kind of pressure because there were very few hair dressers. Somehow, she got to make her hair before me and I hissed. The hair dresser said by my act,Â I had insulted her..
And that was difficult for me to contend with and I was almost at my breaking point because the hairdresser made such a fuss about it. She was like â€˜â€™why should I hiss at her? Is it because she didnâ€™t make my own hair first and all that?â€ And I didnâ€™t want a bad image in camp. So I swallowed all my pride and went to her, knelt down and said Iâ€™m sorry.
What did you learn in camp?
I learnt more of how to relate with people and a lot of humility too because on a normal day, I would never go back to start begging my hairdresser for forgiveness. What for?
But I was in contest, so I had to do all that because they made us believe that the judges would stick their opinions also on our conduct in camp. I didnâ€™t want a bad image either, so I just had to stoop to conquer.
What went through your mind in the first 10 seconds after you were announced most beautiful girl?
I was happy and all smiles because it was like a dream come true for me. I heard people screaming, lights, cameras were all focused on me and I was excited.
Didnâ€™t you think about the car you were going to have?
(Laughing) I was looking forward to the car and the N3 million.
You thought they were going to pay you in bulk?
No, I knew they would pay me gradually but I didnâ€™t know they would give me an upfront first.
So what did you do with it?
I canâ€™t remember now but I did so many things with it. At least I paid my tithe from it.
Who was the first person you called when you were announced the winner?
I guess it was my mum. My sister was there with me. So she made all the calls for me and people started sending text messages to congratulate me.
Did you call your boyfriend to tell him?
No, he was there at the venue.
Strange, other queens would have denied having a boyfriend…
Itâ€™s not a big deal. Letâ€™s be realistic a bit. Having a boyfriend doesnâ€™t necessarily mean having sex.
Are you still dating him?
Yes, we are still dating.
Was he allowed to come visit you in camp?
Oh no, but he came to watch the show.
Donâ€™t worry, you wonâ€™t get dethroned for having a boyfriend…
Iâ€™m just being real. Mr Guy has met him too. I had a life before being a queen. So itâ€™s not a big deal.
I hope your crown hasnâ€™t affected your relationship with him?
No. Nothing has changed.
He hasnâ€™t changed and you havenâ€™t changed too?
No, weâ€™re fine. We talk on phone and see when we can.
Heâ€™s jealous I know….
I guess, itâ€™s just natural for anybody to feel so but weâ€™ve never had any serious argument.
How did your friends react to you generally. You must have lost and gained some?
Yes I did lose some because they were just there to be associated with the crown but my family has always been there for me.
Who amongst your parents encouraged you?
My dad is late, so my mum and other members of the family encouraged me, especially my elder sister.
I told my mum about it when I passed the screening exercise. So she knew before I went into camp.
What are some of the things you miss because of your crown?
Before I became a queen, I was used to taking bikes because whether thereâ€™s traffic or not, it gets me to where Iâ€™m going at a glimpse.Â I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll ever go back to it.
How is life as a beauty queen?
As a queen, Iâ€™ve become more mature. Iâ€™ve also grown up to know that things are not always the way they seem. Being a queen has helped me become a lady.
What are some of those things you were used to doing in public that you canâ€™t do anymore?
Before now, I could just put on any foot wear and go out. I could pick my teeth anywhere or go to the market, buy things. But I canâ€™t do all of that anymore.
Do you still do your normal house chores now?
Iâ€™m not waited upon exactly but there are certain things I was used to doing at home that I canâ€™t do anymore. I used to do my own laundry but someone does it for me now.
Can you tell us about the projects you have on hand presently?
That Iâ€™m not very popular is not my fault but Iâ€™m trying my best. I do have a foundation that focuses on infant mortality. Itâ€™s called the Glory Chukwu Foundation. However, I think more about it will be heard after my reign or towards the end of my reign.
What height do you think your foundation will attain?
Of course, Iâ€™ll start in Lagos and then move down to my State of origin, Abia. Right now, weâ€™ve already gone to Nasarawa State and some parts of Abuja.
Were you living in Nasarawa before you became a queen?
No, I wasnâ€™t. But I represented Nasarawa State to become a queen and thatâ€™s why I went there first.
How did the Governor receive you?
We didnâ€™t see the Governor but we saw the Chief Medical Director because it was a health issue we went for.
So what is your relationship with them after you became a queen?
They actually called to see me at a time and I handed them over to my promoters and I havenâ€™t heard from them after that.
I think they wanted a courtesy visit since I represented their state.Â I remember the guy who called said he was from the Governor and after that I didnâ€™t get to hear from them again.
In the past, queens were seen as wayward people in this part of the world and here you are talking like a real queen…
I think itâ€™s a sign of ignorance to assume that queens are not very well lettered or wayward. It just shows the mentality of the individual whoâ€™s making such assumptions because if you donâ€™t understand what beauty is all about, youâ€™ll get it all wrong.
I believe a beauty queen should be educated first of all so that she can adequately represent her country, company or be the ambassador she is meant to be wherever she goes.
So what have you done in the area of enlightening the younger ones on issues like this?
A couple of them come to me wanting to know how I got there and I tell them the much I did and enlighten them a little about being a queen.
Sometimes, Iâ€™m invited to speak to youths on believing and achieving your dreams. All I do is share my story with them.
You were at the Miss World Pageant. Why didnâ€™t you win?
I didnâ€™t win because the judges wanted someone else.
Are you saying the judges were biased?
No, they were not. Youâ€™re making it seem like you are looking down on other people. The judges wanted something which they saw in someone else.
How come they didnâ€™t see it in you?
Well I didnâ€™t have it ,I guess.
But you left for the context with the confidence that youâ€™ll become another Agbani Darego?
Oh, yes. It would have been nice to do that,but I couldnâ€™t.
Was your confidence still intact when you went into camp and saw other beautiful girls?
Yes it was. Everyone of us was confident, I suppose.
You were not intimidated by all those South American girls?
No, I wasnâ€™t. Most of them werenâ€™t real.
What do you mean they werenâ€™t real?
I think thereâ€™s more pride in natural beauty than having to enhance your body to become a queen.
Are you saying there should be strict measures for beauty queens to context without body enhancement?
Yes, I think it will make more sense to contest with your natural beauty and it will give more meaning to the word â€˜Beautyâ€™. I was happy that at least the girl who won was an all natural beauty.
Are you saying that some of the girls went through breasts and backside enlargement and reduction?
Did that in any way intimidate those with natural beauty?
No. Such things cannot intimidate me. I found it rather interesting because I had never come close to someone who has done all that before (laughing).
How were you able to tell who did any enhancement?
I wasnâ€™t able to tell until those who knew what it is started showing me and I also confirmed from the people themselves, that they enhanced their bodies (the breasts, backsides, cheeks, eyes and so on).
Did it make them look beautiful?
Yes, they did look beautiful.
Do you think those with body enhancement should be disqualified?
No, itâ€™s not my business. If the organizers think itâ€™s okay that way, then itâ€™s there problem, not mine. But Iâ€™ll personally not want to choose a girl whom I know had done any of such things as a queen.
You walked in there with a lot of confidence, did the judges decision deflate your confidence in any way?
No it didnâ€™t.
How did you feel when you werenâ€™t listed in the top 10?
I didnâ€™t feel exactly disappointed on that day. I felt a little bad a day before when I already knew the people who were going to be there. It wasnâ€™t like a do or die thing. So with that frame of mind, it was easy to bear. Besides that, most of us were missing home. In fact, we were happy to leave the place after all.
How do you mean you knew the top 10 a day before?
Well, people talk and we were in camp for almost seven weeks, so we could guess.
You didnâ€™t feel bad that you couldnâ€™t make it even to the top 10?
I did feel that people back home would be disappointed because they wouldnâ€™t really understand. Theyâ€™ll think I just went there to fool around.
How did you prepare for the Miss World contest?
Preparations were not very easy. I had to cut down on a lot of things I used to eat that were fattening, especially ice cream. I tried to walk out and even getting my stuffs ready were not just easy.
Who were your sponsors to Miss World?
Lufthansa sponsored me.
What about your clothing?
Momoh Couture made my clothings. Sheâ€™s a fabulous designer and very nice too. Occasions also provided a couple of accessories for me which have become mine now.