Saturday, 9 January 2010
Mayen (middle) flanked by the first and second runners up at the event
BY CHUKS NWANNE
SEVERAL times, she had entered for different beauty pageant in the country, with hopes of wearing the crown, but in most cases, Mayen Ogbenyeami Ekpo has always managed to emerged as a runner up in all the contests. Notwithstanding, her participations earned her several modeling jobs, including that of Orange Drugs Limited, where she was paid to grace their billboards and calendar.
Though she had already started making a living from her modeling job, the 23-year old graduate of Food and Science Technology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, kept her dreams alive, hoping to wear the crown someday. The opportunity came recently when organisers of the yearly Calabar Christmas Carnival called for entries in the 2009/2010 edition of Carnival Calabar Queen last December.
Out of hundreds that entered for the beauty contest, a total of 29 elegant young ladies were selected to fight for the crown, which came with N2 million cash, a Toyota Yaris saloon car and a free return ticket to London, courtesy of British Airways. As fate would have it, Mayen, a grand daughter of Margaret Ekpo was selected.
Determined to make the best out of the opportunity, the light skinned model went back to her drawing board, applying all available techniques to ensure she earned the crown.
AN indigene of Nsit Ibom, Akwa Ibom State, Mayen, who was identified as Miss Alok Monolith during the contest, first made it to the top 10 stage, alongside Miss Tinapa, Miss Mary Slessor, Miss WAPI, Miss National Park, Miss Oban Hills, Miss Millennium Park, Miss Nkarasi Monolith, Miss Margaret Ekpo, and Miss Old Residency. The number was later reduced to five leaving Miss Alok Monolith ( Mayen), Miss Tinapa, Miss WAPI, Miss Old Residency and Miss Nkarasi Monoliths.
The contestants first appeared in black top blouses with shining studs on long loin like red skirts to cat walk before the audience while in the second appearance, they came out in traditional costumes representing tourism sites, historical buildings, mountains, communities, parks and resorts from which they derived their names. They later appeared in Carnival Calabar uniforms to partake in the Unity Dance; they danced to the beats of the festival theme song.
Their last appearance was in an evening wear designed by Ituen Bassey and judged based on poise, diction and cultural presentation, which saw Miss Nkarasi Monolith winning Miss Congeniality while Miss Photogenic was clinched by Miss Marina Resort.
Drilled in a question and answer session by a panel of judges comprising actress Joke Silva, Charles Aniagolu (PR Practitioner) Adesuwa Onyenokwe (PR Practitioner/Magazine publisher), Elisha Attai (Media Consultant) and Chidi Momoh (Lawyer), the contestants were finally asked to perform their individual passionate activity.
After a thorough assessment at the grand finale and dinner held recently at the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, Calabar, Mayen was adjudged the winner, beating other 28 contestants to cruise home in a brand new Toyota Yaris, N2m cash and free return ticket to London.
Elated Mayen, who lost her parents at a young age, nearly broke down in tears as the outgoing queen, Miss Queeneth Orok alongside the wife of Cross River State governor, Obioma Imoke crown her the 2009/2010 Carnival Calabar Queen. It was a dream comes true.
MAYEN was practically short of words, though she kept acknowledging cheers from members of the audience, who seem to totally agree with the judges.
“I’m grateful to God for this day. For now, I don’t really have much to say, but I going to make very good use of this opportunity to touch lives during my reign,” she said.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the Queen, who resides in Lagos, is planning to relocate to her home state for the time being to enable her carry out her projects, which she promises to make public soon.
Speaking at the event, the first lady of Cross River State, Obioma Liyel Imoke observed that the pageant, introduced in 2007, has turned out to be an interesting venture.
“The two previous winners have been exemplary ambassadors for Mothers Against Child Abandonment (MACA), a pet project initiated to take abandoned babies off the street and cared for at a shelter called The Refuge.”
While assuring that contributions received by MACA will be judiciously used towards a worthy cause, Imoke stated that over 53 babies have passed through its doors as well as some of their teenage mothers, who were instructed on the consequences of casual sex and counseled on their right to protect themselves.
“At the Refugee, they were also taught life skills to boost self confidence and re-integrate them into the society. Our queens have been role models to the youths of our society preaching abstinence and the dangers of pre-marital sex.”
The night featured musical performances by Dare Art-Alade, Banky W, Kell and Kumba Dance Theatre from Houston Texas, USA. There was also presentation of prizes to winners of the second Mary Slessor Golf Tournament, which is also part of Calabar Festival, to raise money for The Refuge.