Introducing our Beauty Queen with a difference, Mrs Nigeria United Nations.
Her emergence as the premier Queen for United Nations met with so much success that on the international stage, the world stood to celebrate this great daughter of Africa, when she was crowned Mrs Tourism United Nations 2015 and was also awarded the People’s Choice Ambassador Award for having the highest number of votes across all categories (Miss, Mrs, Ms, Miss Tourism, Miss Teen) of the Competition. Click here for more.
So, who is the woman behind the crown?
Mrs Ebelechukwu Enemchukwu is a wife, mother of three adorable children and amiable friend. She also works as a Training Specialist in one of the telecommunication companies in Lagos where she has facilitated training sessions for medium and large audiences totalling over 7500 people for the past five years.
She is a graduate of Microbiology from the Abia State University, Utturu and holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Lagos.
A native of Enugu state by birth and Anambra state by marriage.
To hear the recording of the interview and enjoy the sultry voice of our beautiful queen, hit “play”
How has your life changed since you became Mrs Nigeria United Nations?
Between that time and now my life has changed tremendously in the positive direction. I would be lying to say that there hasn’t been a bit of negative effect, but that has been more with regards to time. Before I would have said 24 hours wasn’t be enough but now I have a feeling that even 48 hours still won’t be enough. But thanks to God, I have a great support system; my children, my husband, relatives and even friends. But when it comes to the time I have especially when it comes to my children I would say it is not enough. And so in a bid to close that gap, I try to involve them in everything I do, except of course, bringing them to the office because like I said I equally work.
Generally speaking, it has been amazing.
I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of different backgrounds and different religious systems and I have made new friends from across the globe.
I am more socially aware of the needs that surround us and the fact that more should be done to fill the gap not only in this country but in the world too.
Being a Queen has taught me that it doesn’t have to be material gifts alone, it could be your time, it could be your mental capability, your love and your energy put together could make a difference.
What does pageantry represent? How has your perspective of pageantry changed, and what has the Pageantry have to offer the female folk, especially the married woman?
The whole idea of pageantry is to build a more confident woman, a stronger woman, a woman who can take on the world, a woman with a high level of self-esteem. Pageantry in itself is to give you that “can-do” spirit, to make you say, hey, I am beautiful and being beautiful is not just on the outside but also looking on the inside, what is within.
Yes, I would not deny that some certain pageants have lost the essence or the reason for which the word pageantry was included in the dictionary.
Pageantry projects a strong woman who also can use her beauty for charity.
As a Beauty Queen, your beauty is not necessarily to grace the pages of the numerous newspapers and magazines or lead you to immoral acts .
My first attempt at it was in Lagos state camp batch A in 2005, where I would say I was practically forced to represent my platoon. There were fifteen of us and I emerged winner and was crowned Miss NYSC 2005. I would be lying if I said that didn’t boost my self-esteem.
I have had other opportunities before now but didn’t act on any because my mum believed that girls who were beauty pageants were of easy virtue and immoral.
Speaking on the Mrs category, it is the maiden edition of pageants system in Nigeria, and if anybody had told me that, I would participate in any pageantry last year, I would have said you are lying.
I heard about the Nigeria United Nations Pageantry on the radio where they announced five different categories. I was interested in the Mrs category and decided to do my research.
The first one was that I loved everything the pageant system stood for and still stands for. Which is the fact that it was set up mainly for charity.
Pageantry gives you a platform whereby you can give back to the society with your beauty. Click To Tweet
Pageantry gives you a platform whereby you can give back to the society with your beauty.
Secondly, I also realised that there was no swimsuit segment, because this [my body] has been fully paid for. (hahaha)
So I went in and it has been beautiful ever since, and I have been doing my bit in terms of humanitarianism. So it is all about building your self-confidence and self-esteem telling you that you aren’t just beautiful on the outside but also on the inside, reminding you that beauty transcends the physical and not just the outside.
But the media doesn’t show this aspect of pageantry, because most people who are decent are turned off by pageantry……
You cannot blame the media for not presenting that, because there are some immoral things going on, because if you aren’t careful, if you aren’t sure of where you are going, if you aren’t a person of strong will, you might fall.
Also remember that they are humans too, who have had siblings, sisters who have probably been treated unfairly in the pageants or who have seen them move from this nice young sister to someone who can do anything for fame and fortune.
So you can’t totally blame the media, we are all products sometimes.
Will you allow your daughter go into this..
I am going to be clear on that. Yes, I would allow my daughter but after she has finished a certain level of education and a certain level of maturity. When she is able to discern right from wrong, and this boils down to what we tell our children.
We have to be clear and precise. No more using codes for describing sex organs. Tell them what it is, otherwise someone out there would. Especially in today’s digital age.
So I would allow my daughter to do it, then guide her aright.
You can decide to be the only good one and remember that it is not a do-or-die affair.
What has been your contribution to the society, how has the platform you have been given used to benefit society? I hear you have an NGO too…
Like I mentioned earlier, the pageant system is geared towards charity, towards reaching out to the less privileged, basically humanitarianism is the watch word.
Between winning the title and now I have engaged in a couple of humanitarian acts, and those activities are under my national and international titles. Yes, I do have an NGO but I haven’t launched it and that is because I have a contract which doesn’t allow me to float my own until I hand over the crown which is in a couple of months, so when I do that you are going to hear of it.
My NGO is the WABIO Foundation WABIO is an acronym for Women Are Beautiful Inside Out and WABIO foundation seeks to restore the self-esteem, the self-worth, the self-confidence of women and girls which may have been dented or lost following child-birth or in general.
I have had to give a lecture at an ante-natal class in one of the hospitals here in Lagos and I took them through a course which was titled Managing stress and pregnancy, telling them not to lose themselves and there is no such thing as eating for two and these are just a few tips.
I have also visited quite a couple of orphanages, I remember my first visit to an orphanage called Friends of Jesus orphanage home with so many beautiful children, but of course to protect the children, you are not allowed to take pictures with them.
I have also visited Sangotedo Nur/pri school here in Lagos, but before I did this visit, I actually went all out and did a needs analysis, and what I saw brought tears to my eyes. children came to school without shoes, some with polythene bags as school bags, others with tattered uniforms. Their learning environment was not conducive at all, with leaking roofs and such. I saw all this and I decided to get school uniforms for about 25 children, 144 school bags and over 50 pairs of school shoes.
I also got invited to the brownies camp Of Chrisland school in VGC, a girls camp, I delivered a lecture on Being the Best You Can Be and had a wonderful time with the girls. I also made a visit to Akoka. The Modupe Cole child care and physiotherapy school and the SOS village at Isolo and we donated a couple of things for the children. But the interesting thing is that when we got to Modupe Cole where you had the physically challenged, there were no restrictions on taking pictures and I was surprised but then it hit me that when you see these people, you want to cry, but then you see these people who are happy and then you look at yourself and ask what is that thing you are complaining about.
So when some people ask me why I didn’t resign from my job I ask them, to do what? Because some people have the opinion that when you win such a pageantry, you are everywhere, getting money from the government. But that is not what I set out to do. This is not to say these things don’t come along the line, but you can only use it to reach more people and affect more lives.
But it has been good so far, I was going to do a couple of things for the government and I hope that would happen next year as this year has been a political year and the government parastatals have been quiet. When you write a letter to an office requesting for a courtesy visit to a government official or a ministry, what they think is you want money from them. But that’s not the case. A willingness to collaborate on social duties is much more important.
What do you see yourself doing in 5-10 years from now?
I hope to be God willing in the next couple of years is to be a woman you look at and there are no doubt about her intentions of wholeheartedly reaching out to women, a woman who truly want to help a girl child from cradle to grey, no doubt about wanting to churn out programs, inspiring programs that truly want to remind women and girls that beauty transcends the physical.
How do you balance work, family and your responsibilities as a Queen? Yea, because for most career women they already have their hands full
I always find that question interesting and there hasn’t been any interview I have been in or have granted that this question hasn’t come up, and I always smile, but to be honest, there is no magic wand I just wave and things just happen.
I first give thanks to God. When I wake up in the morning I never forget to pray. Prayer keeps me focused and energized.
Also I think I have been able to carry out proper time management.
I recognise things that are important as opposed to things that are urgent. Certain things are important but now are not very urgent, so let me attend to things that need my urgent attention now.
Learning to say no. You need to decline some of them. Otherwise you find yourself going round the whole of Lagos state confused.
So it’s a lot of work, but with managing your time well and asking God to help you. I always acknowledge the place of God in my life. The day I start saying, “oh I am too much”, I would lose it all. So I always acknowledge God even in mid-day.
That brings me to my next question, how will you describe your husband’s role in all this?
I had always known that I was a lucky woman, but now I am a 1000 percent (if there’s anything like that) sure that I am very lucky, my husband has been extremely supporting in every ramification of the word, he has been there, and I think of everything, I think his word of advice and wisdom and guidance have been of tremendous value to me this period.
Some men would feel threatened, you know…..
You see when I won the national crown on the stage, he was there on the stage, the interviews started right there on the stage and one of the journalists asked my husband, sir, how did you allow your wife do this?
He replied, what are you afraid of? She doesn’t stop me from achieving my dreams, why should I stop her from getting hers?
Wow, that’s really sweet (applause)
And he has done nothing short of doing that.
What’s more, what works in my family may not work in yours. A husband who stops his wife from going may have genuine reasons why he doesn’t want the woman to go.
So I would not use myself as a yardstick/template to say this is the way it is supposed to go, but the important thing is to support your wife in the same way you would want her to support yours.
If your husband doesn’t support your dreams, it is possible he doesn’t see it as your dream, or this dream of yours, is it really plain or are there some selfish reasons, those are some things you need to consider.
It is also up to you as the wife to adequately convince him, because a lot of husbands if they have as much information as I and my husband have, maybe their perception of the whole thing might change.
So that’s it, my husband is very supporting, and I keep praying for him.
I would say this to other people who hope to do this thing, first be sure you have the support of your husband for married people.
What would you say gave you the winning edge over the other contestants and how would you describe yourself?
In no part of this response should anything come across as boastful or anything of that sort but this is me. Many people would describe me, and I would also describe myself as a strong woman, and when I say strong I mean strong on the inside and on the outside. Sometimes I had friends who would call me E-girl, and that E was for energy, energy girl, not Ebele, but I know my strength isn’t just on the outside but also on the inside.
I know I am passionate, I would rather not do a thing than not do it right.
I also believe that I am a compassionate person. I know it doesn’t always have to be about me, I am also emphatic. I am able to put myself in the shoes of others.
I believe I am intelligent, I believe that I am beautiful, not just on the outside but also on the inside, and the beauty on the inside is actually more important to me.
So that is Ebele in a few words. (smiles).
Now, speaking of what gave me the edge over other contestants, I have never had any issues with my self-confidence. I am a very confident person and if you look at me from a distance, I might come across as arrogant because there is a very thin line between self-confidence and arrogance.
Yes, I totally agree with you on that. Most people tend to see confident people as snubs. When a woman walks tall with head high, people begin to have “beef” for her…
So I would say what gave me an edge over other contestants is my confidence. Also I love to say, you cannot feature in a future you cannot picture. So when I entered, I said to myself, Ebele, you are going to give it your all, and you know what, I am going to feel this crown on my head, I will wear this crown. I had this part of me that said, if it doesn’t come out well, fine, but I am going to give it my all.
I went all the way from Lagos to Abuja because I was sure of what I was going to get, and I was sure I was going to get the title.
Also coupled with the fact that I was told I had a beautiful smile. Okay, I had to add that.
Because truth be told, you have to be accessible. You can’t be a queen and be all put together with a stern look, because Queens smile and the reason you are smiling is to let people into your world.
So that smile is like a window into the soul. I am here to share laughter, I am here to share love, I am here to share me. So I think that helped me a lot, and every step on the way throughout the rehearsal period we had, 10 days in the camp, they kept telling us to smile, “you cannot be a queen without smiling”.
So it’s all about your personality and your confidence level. Knowing your worth is what really matters. If you have got it, you have got it.
It’s not the crown that makes the Queen. It’s the Queen that gives meaning to the crown.
Do you have any other favorite quotes in addition to the one you just mentioned, “You cannot feature in a future you cannot picture”?
Yes, that is one of my favorite quotes. But growing up, I had a philosophy that my mum had taught us very early in life, which at some point I started doubting. But it was my mom’s quote so we grew up knowing that. Back then in school, I had it written all over my exercise books, Hard work never hurts, rather, it pays. But you know sometimes with this hard work, I just feel like I’m not seeing the payment, (hahaha).
But more recently, my philosophy, is that Excellence is not a destination, it is a journey. It is something you keep doing, always striving towards, so you can’t beat your chest and say I am excellent, it is a constant conscious effort. So those are some of my favorite quotes.
Outward beauty and Inward beauty, which is more important?
My answer would be the inner beauty to me is the most important. That’s not to negate the fact that outward beauty is important but just that what’s more important is what you possess on the inside.
How would you describe women empowerment especially in Nigeria?
Like I always say, for me, a woman doesn’t just become a woman, you would have started from the girl-child. So in two phases really, but all towards driving to the same goal.
For the girl-child, in the lectures I have done, if you start to tell them, I am beautiful, I had these children (girls) say it loud to themselves, I am the best, I am better than my mummy, and you see them saying with so much conviction like they really mean it.
When they say these things, you would be shocked at what these small things they say to themselves, this beating themselves on the chest, what it does to their minds, it goes a long way. I can do it, I am the best, I am great, I will make my parents proud, I will make my country proud, My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I made them say these things. It’s called positive self-talk.
Because it starts from you, within. It starts from inside and then translate to what we see on the outside. It’s your mind. When you take care of your mind first, you’ve taken care of 80% of the problem.
You will be better equipped to see opportunities…
Yes, because you can recognize opportunities and you can grab it, because if you don’t see it as an opportunity you can’t take it. So it’s going to be right there in your face, but you won’t be able to take it because you can’t see it as an opportunity.
You are going to nag about the same thing someone else would brag about, and make the most off, and that is the same philosophy, everyone wants to drive to the girl-child and even to the woman, who thinks she is lost and finished.
Why are you lost? Why are you finished? I have heard so many women say things like, in those days, I really was a firebrand.
You are still a firebrand, you just allowed your flame to quench, fan it back to flame, fan it back to flame.
What happened, you had children, yes. So? Your husband this….. your husband that…
There are still things you can do as a housewife and mother. But, you also have to be careful when it comes to the issues of husbands and wives, because you don’t want to break a home. You just tell the wife, you can still do it, because when we say capacity building, it is not so much of putting up a massive shop, and selling big things.
It’s about looking on the inside and saying, I am damaged on the inside, there is no fixing me on the outside. I have got to get fixed on the inside, then, it translates to the outside.
Your definition of who you are is what can make or mar you.
If a man can raise a hand to beat you and you think it is okay saying, “he is still my husband, what am I going to do”, then you are actually lost, your self-esteem is gone, finished but you are not even aware.
These are the people that need a voice. A way for them to say I am not comfortable with this.
It first starts from within, in positive self-talk and then maybe engaging them in maybe a skill. True financial independence can change a woman’s world, it goes a long way to boost her self-esteem. It may not be much, maybe just N50 she is able to contribute to the family’s purse. It does something to her psyche whether or not it’s appreciated by her husband.
So what do you do to unwind/to relax?
I love music and love being online but I am careful not to let it swallow me, because it is very addictive. With regards to social media and all that. I also listen to the news to know what is going on the country and also internationally.
But all work and no play, as they say, makes Jack a dull boy. I also love knitting, but to be honest, these days, I don’t do much of knitting.
But when I really want to unwind, when I have free time, I go to Instagram and look for some funny videos and laugh and also when I hear about AY Live you see me going there to laugh.
You know, laughter is good medicine.
Thank you for sharing your time with sheiscomplete…
Isn’t she phenomenal?