It seems new – the Nigeria that has emerged after the
story of Olajumoke. The story of Olajumoke.
The story of a simple bread seller who became a super-model, overnight, after photo-bombing a photo session by the singer, TY Bello, is one that cannot be forgotten in a long time. And in Lagos, the city where it all played out, the excitement has continued to grow ever since.
One of the earliest topics discussed among Lagos residents following Olajumoke’s rise to fame concerned bread sellers’ “new manner of dressing”. But has there really been any change?
“I think there has been a change,” Onyinye Osuchukwu who works as a copywriter in Yaba told Saturday Tribune last week. “They generally wear neater and more colourful clothes now.”
It may be difficult to agree or deny that there has been any real improvement, especially since not many people had any reasons to take any special note of the way bread hawkers dressed before Olajumoke.
Nevertheless, many pictures have been uploaded on the internet by fun-lovers to create the impression that there has been a revolution in the way bread sellers dress today. One of such pictures shows a man dressed like a woman, standing in front of a house (purportedly owned by TY Bello) while making a phone call, a heavy load of bread on his head.
“Hello, Aunty TY BELLO,” his words were shown on the picture. “I am in front of your house waiting for you. I just want you to know that I am now a bread seller.”
“It brings hope”
Mr Soji Adegbite, a Lagos-based civil engineer, told Saturday Tribune that he attended the same secondary school as Olajumoke’s husband, Mr Sunday Orisaguna.
“Sunday and I attended Baptist High School, Iree,” Adegbite said. “We were of the 1996/1997 set. I left the school when I was in JSS 3 because I lost my father. We lived in the same area. We last spoke in 2014. I didn’t know he got married, until we heard about his famous wife.
“I think her story brings hope. When there is life, there is hope. It also tells us of the importance of being at the right place at the right time.”
Adegbite also said he had discovered an improvement in the way bread hawkers dress. “Not just bread sellers, but other sellers,” he said. “In addition, those bread sellers now pack their bread the way Olajumoke did in that picture – well arranged, with the butter in the middle.”
“Life is a struggle”
Mr Joshua Omidire who recently completed a Master’s Degree in Literature at the University of Lagos told Saturday Tribune on Thursday that Olajumoke’s story is also one of struggle and determination.
“The Olajumoke story has a touch of aberrancy in its plot,” he said. “While many Nigerians covet her break out of the pod of poverty, not many of us have the patience of living in her kind of exact squalor. We cannot sit back and disturb the divine to turn our tides like that of Olajumoke; we must, like her, get the spirit of dignity in labour and do whatever good thing we know how to do best with all sincerity and humility. The reality, however, is that life is no longer that kind of fairy tale. Life is a struggle. Success is our dream.”
It is in the Bible
To many observers, the suggestion that bread hawkers are changing their way of dressing would seem absurd, especially since good fortune is not the preserve of bread sellers. However, Mr Soji Adegbite feels there is something special about bread – something divine.
“I believe bread is special,” he said. “There is a spiritual foundation to the story, and that is because of the bread in it. In the Bible, a boy gave Jesus a loaf of bread and two fishes. Jesus himself is the Bread of Life. It means there is power in bread. There is power in what Olajumoke carried.”
Olajumoke vs Ayodele
The latest twist to the Olajumoke saga emerged recently following the record-breaking story of Mr Ayodele Dada who became the first graduate to make 5.00 CGPA from the 54-year-old University of Lagos. Whereas Olajumoke’s rewards include a tastefully-furnished apartment and several contracts with corporate organisations, Dada is yet to land any such deals.
“Initially, it felt great that she was lifted out of obscurity, but then the whole endorsement from all firms?” said Sonia Nzekwe, a 300-level student at the University of Lagos. “There is no moral for me in that story. There are a thousand and one Olajumokes who speak well, write well and earn nothing. They practically don’t have a life but no one is willing to go the extra mile to discover them. So because one person has been discovered, should we now want her on every billboard and turn her name to a prayer point?
“How many Nigerians know the name of the second person in Africa to finish university with 5.00 CGPA? CNN hasn’t invited Ayodele Dada for an interview, yet Olajumoke has got that interview. It says a lot about the kind of values we promote in the world, not just Nigeria.”
However, when Saturday Tribune contacted Dada last week, the graduate of Psychology described the comparison as unfair and unnecessary.
“I was one of those who were really happy when they heard of her story,” he said. “I was happy because there are too many people in this country who don’t get a shot at a measure of success; and now that God has given her a chance, it is something we should celebrate. We have to realise that the currency of hope never expires. It is always something that will be inspirational. And that is why it was newsworthy, because everyone wants to believe that there is something better on the horizon. So if she is able to get a chance, I think it is remarkable, and I don’t think there is any need for us to pull her down. I was not too pleased that it was taken that way. I don’t think it is fair because she never knew she was going to get this far, and then suddenly grace or luck took her to such a great height. I was happy.
“It is a remarkable story. Things like that happen in this world, and that’s not to say that I don’t believe in rewarding achievement, but we all have our individual stories. Who knows what her opportunities were? She may never have had a chance to do anything differently. And if she didn’t have such a chance, does it mean she should never get a shot at greatness. Every individual in this world should have a chance, and if we can provide such an opportunity, let’s give it to them. I believe in this so much that throughout my time in school I gave free tutorial to many people at a go. They would just call me and say they needed help and I would be there; I could tutor them for four hours or more at a stretch. For me, that is the index of how successful we are – how well we can help other people. So I really applaud the efforts of TY Bello in bringing this girl out, so that the world can see that she has something; because we all have something.”