Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Bolanle... The Kokolette

GOD!… God!!… I can’t believe it,” she says. “Oh God… oh God.” She sobs gently. Tears of joy cascade her cheeks as she embraces the weight of her success. Now she’s no longer Bolanle Okhiria, the 21-year old student of the Lagos State University, LASU, but the Ideal Kokolette.
She stands transfixed for a few seconds, almost watching the narrative footage of her success in her mind eye. She heaves again, “God… Thank you for everything.” She had beaten three other finalists, Rita Igbinedion Isoken, Shona and Chidinma, to win the N5 million, a Volkswagen convertible car and a Diamond ring at stake in the show sponsored by HiTV, with support from Nigerian Breweries Plc and Tetmosol. Bolanle or Miss Bee, as intimate friends often call her, can best be described as a rounded character. Intelligence, beauty, and sense of humour are some of the qualities that made her company completely irresistible in the house. While nodding her head and gurgling with satisfaction, Bolanle sighs, “I will represent the brand well. The values I believe in, I’ll stand for everyday.” The multi-talented lady snorts: “I can’t trade the experience I had at the mansion for anything.” Though Bolanle can’t be intimidated by anybody, she is scared of poisoned chalice. And she wants to live the through her reign like a saint. And she has her mind firmly planted on that. “I look up to women such as Cecilia Ibru and Tyra Banks as role models,” she says. Thanks to the energy she’s derived from the lives of these exemplary women, her career ambition is to one day start her own talk show – The Bee Show, a platform to educate young women on the essence of being beautiful, bold, and brilliant. A spark of light radiates in her face as she tries to say hello to an admirer. She describes the ideal woman as, “someone whose beauty is not just in her outward appearance, she has to be someone who understands that character is the most essential beauty ingredient in a woman.” And this seems to have dotted the lines of every page of her life, which she script-edited at age 12: Humane personality. “I was born with a silver spoon, but when my family fortunes turned, I was forced to learn that life is not a bed of roses,” she says. Her face, now fresh after mopping up the tears of joy, Bolanle says sensitively, “my dad told me, it was always best to make a very positive impact out of any negative circumstance.” Bolanle’s first reactions to her selection, after the audition for Koko Mansion, was loaded with surprise, doubt, and utter consternation; she honestly thought someone was playing pranks on her. She muses, “I waited for so long for that call, and when it finally came through, I was too excited to believe it was real – I had to tell the producers to prove to me that it wasn’t some kind of a joke.” She polled 11,933 to beat Rita, who got 10, 473. Chidinma got a disappointing 918 votes while Shona who was all along favoured to win, got 2, 292 votes. Twelve girls initially got into the mansion but as the show progressed, Kokolettes Victoria, Lillian, Mary, Chioma, Bidemi, Chinwe and Elizabeth, were evicted by the viewers. The stage was now set and the viewers had to pick Bolanle from the lot of Chidinma, Rita and Shona. D’BANJ played the excellent host as he inspected the posh car with Bolanle who admitted she does not know how to drive. Spiced with performances by Mo’ Hits’ Wande Coal, ace comedian Julius Agwu and of course D’banj, the Koko Master, the closing show was a different package entirely. The biggest endorsement for the show, however, came when the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyuli, paid a visit to the mansion to further educate the young ladies. It was a rewarding evening, as Akunyuli, who, over the years, gained reputation for hard work and commitment to serving the country, guided the ladies on a path to achieving greatness. When Isi Munirat, a mole, was let loose into the mansion, the show took another dimension. Believing that she was in the show as a contender for the prize money, the other Kokolettes bared their fangs. THE first runner up, Rita, was also rewarded with a three-month training at Style & Grace Solutions training outfit. Rita kept the show lively with her vivacious, unpretentious nature for the seven weeks it lasted, a development that made her the viewers’ delight. The lady, who has a major shortcoming —her inability to speak good English — also, fell below in terms of social etiquette, communication and personal presentation skills. Mrs. Grace Oforiokuma, CEO/MD Style & Grace Solutions offered the Edo State native a mentoring programme as a prize for coming out second in the show. “I believe that this programme will be of great use in her future endeavours. Our aim is not to direct Rita in her future choices or decisions, but to provide her with the appropriate knowledge to develop the particular life skills mentioned, beneficial both here in Nigeria and in the global context.” Oforiokuma adds, “we expect our mentoring programme to provide her with individual coaching and ongoing advice and guidance in the areas of Social Etiquette, Communication and Personal Presentation skills. Coaching at our premises (Ikoyi, Lagos) will be provided at flexible times convenient to Rita, over the next three months. In addition, we will provide other training delivery methods using the web, telephone and our training aids to ensure that she receives adequate content and understanding. Guidance and advice will be provided to Rita on an ongoing basis, as needed, for a further six month period.”

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