By Chris Onuoha
The narrative of the winner of the just concluded Queen Moremi Ajasoro (QMA) Cultural Pageant, Miss Adedamola Toluhi, is touching. She wept as she was being presented with the package that came with the ultimate prize, N1million cheque and a brand new car, because she was overwhelmed with joy. Whereas it was on her own volition that she entered the contest, she said she didn’t expect that she could emerge as the overall winner. The pageant was sponsored by the House of Oduduwa Foundation and held at The Providence Event Center, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Going by the name of the venue, ‘Providence Event Place’, one would not but imagine that it is truly a place of providence for the young ladies who found fortune and fame participating at the finals of the QMA pageant. And little did Adedamola, crowned Queen Moremi Ajasoro 2018/19, know that a casual move to get registered in the prestigious cultural pageant will materialize into something as big as being a proud owner of the latest Toyota Camry car, N1million cash and mouth- watering endorsements. To her, it is grace visitation in a place of providence.
The contest, full of excitement, was seen by cultural observers as one with mostly inexperienced young girls who perhaps picked the free registration form and wanted to give luck a chance, but, however, became engrossed, having realised that pains and gains of such venture were a life-changing experience. This was noticed in their naivety possibly arising from their young age. But when the grace of God decided to be a pulling factor, it became a different story for Adedamola who emerged tops in the contest. Many believe she is twice lucky having also tried and won the Miss Surulere pageant sometime ago.
After achieving the Miss Surulere feat, it must have been easier to adapt and comprehend the rules of the game at the Moremi pageant which emphasises the character of the Yoruba heroine – Queen Moremi Ajasoro.
Adedamola is a 300-level English student of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Osun State.
In the highly contested pageant sponsored by the House of Oduduwa Foundation, the palace of the Ooni of Ife and hosted by the wife of Ogun State governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, Adedamola beat five other finalists to clinch the coveted crown as the new Queen Moremi Ajasoro 2018/19, having been certified the four-man panel of judges who oversaw the finals. She took home a brand new Toyota Camry car, N1 million cheque and other things. The new queen, who was Miss Surulere 2017, broke down in tears of excitement and joy as soon as the result was announced. She said in her speech that her first mission would be to work with the motherless homes to care for the disabled and needy children. She later told Sunday Vanguard that she was overwhelmed with excitement especially since she initially thought she may not emerge the overall winner.
25-year-old Agara Oluwatoyin, from Ondo State, came second while Adejuwon Oluwaseyi, a creative fashion designer from Ogun State, bagged the third position. They went home with N7500, 000 and N500, 000 respectively, while two other winners got N200, 000 each.
Some of the participants also received various awards. Miss Shaba Oluwabukola was named the Most Charismatic participant at the pageant, Miss Ololade Lawal (Miss Amity), Miss Adelekan Funke (Miss Culture) while the best talent award went to Miss Oyetola Oyewumi. Adedamola also received the Best Model Award while Miss Deborah Oyedele got Miss Photogenic Award.
Notable personalities that graced the occasion include the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo; the Olugbon of Orileigbon, Oba Francis Alao; and the Elerinmo of Erinmo Kingdom, Oba Michael Ajayi.
Others are Governor Ibikunle Amosun, of Ogun State and his wife, Olufunso; top government officials and cultural enthusiasts.
Ogunwusi, who initiated the project, said the aim was to promote the Yoruba culture among the youth to prevent it from extinction. The Ooni thanked Amosun and his wife for accepting to host the event.
He noted that the new queen automatically becomes the cultural ambassador to the Ooni and would enjoy the privilege of being part of his foreign trips, adding that every other contestant would go home with N200, 000 cash gift to compensate them for their efforts.
In his goodwill remarks, Amosun thanked the Ooni for granting the hosting right of the competition to Ogun State and especially naming his wife as the living model of Queen Moremi Ajasoro legacy.
“I am really honoured to host this memorable event. It is actually my wife who is at the forefront of this project, it is a laudable cultural tourism that will boost our economy,” he said.
The governor noted that the pageant is an effort to reawaken the Moremi legacy in Yoruba land, saying the awareness has brought together brothers from all the Yoruba of the Southwest and those in Kogi, Edo and Kwara states to promote the Yoruba cultural heritage.
He reiterated the importance of such programme as a way of reminding the young ones of their cultural values and who they are. Amosun said that the contestants had done really well, and deserved commendations from all.
On her part, the Queen Moremi Cultural Ambassador, Princess Aderonke Ademiluyi, said that part of the requirements used in the selection was that a contestant must be between ages 18 and 25.
Ademiluyi added that others include that such a contestant must be an undergraduate and at least one of her parents must be Yoruba.
“The contest showcases our culture which is really important to the Ooni of Ife; it encourages young ladies to discover and learn more about their culture. This whole initiative about the queen is to project leadership roles in the future of our young girls as legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro did during her life time”, she stated.
“The contest showcases the strength of a woman, which dates back to thousands of years, in encouraging young ladies to be selfless and be committed to nation building.
“The rationale behind the granting of the hosting right to Ogun State is to have the cultural contest in different Yoruba states each year. In 2016, it was in Ife, 2017 was in Lagos and this year in Ogun. Next year will be in another Yoruba state”.