Beauty pageants have for many years been opening doors for young and talented ladies all over the world. But as the world of pageants face decline in its relevance, one pageant, Miss Kanekalon, is changing the status quo; impacting on young ladies across West Africa.
The pageant is hair industry specific, and it looks for clever and beautiful young women who can become ambassadors for Kanekalon, a leading manufacturer of synthetic fibers/hair in the world.
The delectable Benahili Ojeme Faith emerged as Miss Kanekalon 2016, whisking home the grand prize of a brand-new Nissan Altima 2016, and a whopping N2million. Mahalia Bamford from Ghana, the first runner-up, and Opaluwa Ojotule Tamarai second runner-up were not left behind as they also carted home N1.5million and N1million, respectively.
So how different is Miss Kanekalon and how have the winners benefited from it? Benahili who won the pageant in her second attempt says. “Winning the pageant has expanded my horizon in so many ways, it has blessed me with self fulfillment and the social exposure gotten from it has been amazing”.
Miss Kanekalon 2016 2nd runner-up Opaluwa Ojotule Tamarai believes she is now a much better person after going through the pageant. She said: “I can say this, I have always seen myself as a queen, but Kanekalon gave me Queen as a title. Kanekalon has groomed me to be a better version of my old self; it has given me financial support and a platform to better express myself. Kanekalon is not just a name but also a pioneering hair and beauty brand. Kanekalon celebrates you and I, the true face of African beauty and everyone should want to be a part of the Kanekalon family.”
In 2016, the pageant, which was in its second year, introduced Ghana to the competition, and Mahahlia Bamford was one of the many Ghanaians who tried her luck. According to her, she saw in Kanekalon 2016, an opportunity to represent a brand whose product she loves to use, and as well get a position through which she can empower fellow women.
Mahalia comments: “Kanekalon has helped me learn a lot; importance of good interpersonal relationships, how to work as a good team player, table etiquette, to be a true lady, to be graceful, beautiful inside out, time management and so much more. To all the ladies out there, Kanekalon is one of the greatest opportunities for you as a young lady to gain exposure and become a better person through the platform it gives you, so you can get the privilege represent true African brand as you enjoy the numerous and additional benefits like; a bigger social network, the support and so on. “
Miss Kanekalon is set to return in 2017 with plans of expanding beyond Ghana and Nigeria. But until a new winner is crowned, Miss Kanakalon 2016, Benahili Ojeme Faith she shares her experiences, plans and more in the following interview.
How was it growing up and how do you think it affected your Miss K experience?
Honestly, growing up was a blur but I do recall my mum always telling me about the importance of persistence and never giving up. I think this had a huge role to play in my Miss K experience.
Why did you decide to apply a second time considering the first outcome?
My belief in persistence and perseverance played a major role in my decision-making but the encouragement I got from my family and friends helped me overcome my fear of failure.
Which application experience do you think was better?
I think the second application was better because I had gained enough experience to know what exactly I needed to work on to be better equipped to win the crown.
Did the thought of losing again cross your mind?
Yes it definitely did, it was a major concern for my friends and family that losing again would mess with my self-esteem and confidence but I was convinced that God bringing me back in 2016 was for a reason greater than any of us could ever imagine.
An essential question, during the FINALS was “How do you define African beauty”. African beauty also being the underlying theme of the pageant, share with us your thoughts?
African women are blessed with diversity and eccentricity in beauty, fashion and
lifestyle and the Miss Kanekalon Africa beauty pageant celebrates this by bringing together young African women with different skin tones, body shapes and nationalities and empowering them financially, morally, and also equipping them with the right social skills to be able to leave their marks everywhere they go.
What was it like to be announced the winner?
I was very happy and I felt like nothing could ever make me as happy. It’s a moment I’ll always cherish and I constantly stare at pictures from that day and get a warm feeling. I don’t think I had ever seen Sekinat that happy in my entire life and seeing her happy and knowing that I hadn’t disappointed her or myself made me even happier.
So why Miss Sekinat Adigun and not your previous stylist?
Sekinats warmth, creativity and attention to detail is what stands her out as a stylist and this was why I decided to go with her and not my previous stylist. Convincing Sekinat to team up with me wasn’t hard at all because after explaining the theme of the pageant to her, she saw it as an opportunity to showcase her talent so she took it.
How did the grooming camp affect you?
Being at the grooming camp taught me the importance of etiquette and also the dos and don’ts of being a modern day lady.
Do you think winning Miss k has opened up more opportunities for you?
Yes, winning Miss Kanekalon did open up more opportunities for me. An example would be in my career as a part time model, quite a number of photographers and fashion designers request to work with me on a daily/ weekly basis.
What has the journey been like?
The journey so far has been amazing. With God, family, friends and well wishers who love and support me, I’ve been able to stay strong and keep moving forward.
How do you manage the responsibilities and challenges that come with being a student and a beauty queen at the same time?
As a student the thought of having to balance my duties as a beauty queen and a student engineer seemed quite challenging but the Kanekalon team was been able to help me balance it by working with my school timetable and ensuring that my duties do not affect my academics.
What do you like about the Kanekalon brand?
The Kanekalon brand to me is simply amazing. I can go on and on about its numerous qualities but my favourite thing about the kanekalon brand is how soft, tangle free, easy and convenient it is.
What can you say differentiates Miss Kanekalon pageant from other pageants you’ve seen?
I think the fact that it gives 20 beautiful young ladies who probably never imagined they were cut out to be queens the opportunity to express their individuality and creativity without asking for anything in return is what stands it out.
What are your plans now that you have won?
I’m currently working on the launch of my own hair are line and I’ve also been working with young, talented enthusiasts in the fashion and lifestyle industry and organizing campaigns on social media to promote braiding and styling hair with kanekalon hair fibre.
What advice do you have for young ladies out there who have a dream of becoming Miss Kanekalon in the future?
My advice to every young lady out there who aspires to become miss kanekalon is not to let their present predicaments dictate /limit their ambitions. Work hard, improve yourself and believe.
How did you hear about the contest and why did you enter the contest ?
I found out about the contest through social media in 2015 and I found out that registrations in 2016 had begun through social media as well. I entered again because I felt like I had nothing to lose and I believe in being persistent.
What were your highlights from the contest?
My highlight from the contest was getting to meet the other beautiful 19 young ladies and learning about their beliefs and cultures.
What did you learn from taking part in the pageant? How has it improves you as a person?
Humility. I learned to be humble and that there’s no attribute more precious than humility.
If you were to tell a friend about miss kanekalon how would you describe it?
If I were to tell a friend about miss kanekalon, I’d simply tell her it’s a beauty pageant that not only celebrates your physical appearance but your intellect, attitude and morals.