Opinion: This MBGN pageant of nudity

Kelechi Esogwa-Amadi

For three decades, the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) beauty pageant has showcased some of the most beautiful girls in Nigeria to the outside world. Organised by Silverbird Entertainment, the MBGN pageant has become a big entertainment brand in Nigeria and beyond.

The pageant has produced more than thirty beauty queens who, at one time or the other, represented Nigeria in one international event or the other, thereby promoting the image of the country in the diaspora, which in turn helps to lure investors into the country. Through the MBGN platform, some of the beauty queens have gotten juicy modelling contracts in Nigeria and abroad. Some have relocated to the western world, especially America and Europe; some have gotten good husbands while some have gotten good jobs.

From Patty Boulaye to Omasan Buwa, Bianca Ojukwu, Adaeze, Munachi etc, MBGN pageant winners have helped in changing the narrative about Nigerian women. Perhaps, the MBGN pageant recorded its greatest achievement in 2001 when it produced the first black African to win the Miss World beauty pageant, in the person of Rivers-born Agbani Darego.

However, these achievements notwithstanding, the MBGN pageant appears to be doing more harm than good to the moral sensibilities of Nigerians. This is because the pageant is now featuring a nude parade during the final contest.

Although aspects of Nigerian culture, fashion, dance and lifestyle are displayed by the contestants during the show, probably with the intention of showcasing and promoting Nigeria’s rich, variegated, beautiful culture to the outside world, the nude parade makes nonsense of that good intention. The nude parade, during which the girls flaunt their naked buttocks to the audience, has ingloriously come to be the highpoint of the MBGN pageant and the most erotic, lustful and immoral part.

The importance which the organizers attach to it, the brief exhortation which the master of ceremony uses to prepare the minds of the audience as a pre-emptive, anti-criticism measure, the silent, anticipatory frenzy that ushers in this ‘sacred’ moment and the rapt attention and concentration given to it shows that it is the selling point of the MBGN pageant.

But the organizers know the immoral implication of what they’re doing. They know it is alien to Nigerian culture for women to parade naked in public. They also know that naturally, many of the girls won’t feel comfortable flaunting their buttocks to the prying eyes of the audience lustfully savouring their nakedness. Thus, to reduce the tension and create a relaxed atmosphere, the organizers usually switch off the lights in the hall apart from the stage.

Yes, they may claim that the girls do not expose their breasts and private parts but only their backs, yet the question is: how many of those organizers and guests will be happy to see their grown-up daughters, old enough to marry and become mothers, walking in the streets half naked or specifically with their backs and buttocks exposed?

I believe the first thing that will come to the mind of any responsible parent who sees his or her daughter parading half naked in the streets is whether such a daughter is still normal or has gone berserk. Knowing how emotional Nigerians can be, some parents will even burst into tears at such a sight. Only irresponsible parents will condone such an indecent sight.

Nudity is abhorred in black Africa, especially in Nigeria and the MBGN pageant organizers know this very well.
Christianity and Islam, the two major religions in Nigeria, detest nudity. African traditional religion detests it. In the holy bible, God warns against nudity, especially people forcing relatives to strip naked, Leviticus 18:6-19.

In the case of MBGN pageant, the girls are made to strip naked (at the back) in the full glare of their parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, in-laws and other relatives as well as the audience in the hall and millions of other Nigerians watching the show on television. This is morally indecent. The girls do not need to expose their buttocks for their shapes to be seen and assessed.

The bikini-like scarves they tie on their waists- which they remove when they turn their backs to the audience- are enough to show their shapes and body contours. Some claim that the nude parade is done to impress the sponsors of the pageant as an added value to their money and also to ‘sample’ the girls for future ‘suitors.’ Only the MBGN pageant organizers can debunk this.

No doubt, we’re in an age where nudity, pornography, indecent dressing, prostitution, even homosexuality and lesbianism and other forms of immorality are seen in many climes as normal ways of life, with young people being exposed to them via the social media, the fact remains that they are not part of Nigerian culture. Any act that insults the moral sensibilities of a people and abuses their culture can be deemed abominable and sinful. Morality and decency cannot be sacrificed at the altars of modernity and civilization. The attempt by apostles of secularism to do that is why evil is on the increase in our society today.

Many years ago, late Catholic Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, cried out: “The greatest sin of our generation is that it has lost all sense of sin.”

The nude show incorporated into the MBGN pageant has stigmatized it, though the organizers may not be aware of this or may not even bother to know, having been carried away by the huge fortunes they make out of it. But they can save the image of the pageant and restore its integrity by expunging the nude parade.

Rather than dwindle their fortunes, such a reform will rather increase their profits and attract more goodwill to them. Responsibility beckons. And I just wanna make common sense.

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