Amaka Oguchi is Miss Commonwealth Nigeria, Miss Commonwealth Africa and Miss Commonwealth Cultural Queen. Fondly referred to as Amypee, this elegant damsel and first daughter of a pharmacist no doubt deserves these three crowns and has chosen sports as a tool to help grow and unite African youths.
Just a few weeks after nabbing the much-coveted crowns, she took Reporter, Gbenga Bada, into the journey of her life, her engagement with sports, her dreams and her regrets among other things.
What was the experience like for you at the Miss Commonwealth World?
Before I left, I always had this belief that when I get there, I would not only do my best but also bring back home the crown. When I got there, it was a different ball game entirely because there were so many beautiful girls and it was so intimidating. But we also had the fun parts, we also got to know one another, share different ideas, talk about what we have been doing back home and other stuffs but in all, the experience was good for me.
What went through your mind when you were crowned Miss Commonwealth Africa and Most Cultural Contestant?
I was so amazed for being Miss Commonwealth Africa but wasn’t too surprised getting the most cultural contestant award. This is because when I was leaving Nigeria, I had so much with me because I wanted to promote the culture, show people good things from the country and project our image in good light. I ensured that I had several fabrics of our country designed specifically for the occasion, these were made by JD7 and we were able to get the award for all the work. But for the Miss Commonwealth Africa, I didn’t expect to be crowned because I didn’t even see it coming. When I was leaving Nigeria, I was so optimistic of winning but getting there and seeing all the other girls, I didn’t know what to expect anymore. All the same, I’m grateful to God almighty.
Your foray into pageantry seems to be a fulfilling one, can you tell us how it really began?
I actually started with modelling, basic modelling, photography, high fashion and then a friend told me to consider going into pageantry and that was how I got to win the Prettiest Girl In Nigeria by ‘accident’ but I wasn’t satisfied because the organisers were not living up to my expectations and then I went for Miss Commonwealth Nigeria, won and proceeded to Miss Commonwealth World, where I was crowned Miss Commonwealth Africa. I think it’s a lot of hard work and diligence with extensive personal training that saw me through and gave me an edge.
So, it would be correct to say if not for your friend, you wouldn’t have been engaged in pageantry at all?
I don’t think I would have been involved but for my friend, who made me go into it. Before then I didn’t see myself doing it at all.
If you had to pick one over the other, which would it be?
I would pick pageantry sincerely because in Nigeria, the modelling industry is not something we are all proud of, so I would take pageantry over modelling.
Not many have a detailed background of your personality; can you share some of your memories with us?
I was born in Kaduna and grew up there, my family left in 1997 because of the riot and relocated to Lagos. I attended Army Children School, Kaduna, Federal Government College, Enugu and studied microbiology at the Igbinedion University and graduated a few months before I went for Miss Commonwealth World. My dad is a pharmacist, my mum is deceased and I owe most of my growing up to my aunt, who stood by me like a mother. I’m from Nnewi in Amechi Local Government Area of Anambra State and have four younger brothers.
Not every parent would support an offspring’s venture into modelling or beauty pageants for different reasons. What was it like with your father?
Yes, he supported me from the beginning but on my own part, I hid it from him and he found out through some of the pictures he stumbled upon at home and some of my pictures that were displayed in magazines from fashion shows. And when he found out, he asked me about being in the pageantry and I answered him by saying yes. He also queried me for not telling him all the while. He has supported me all the way. I told him when it was like a week before going into camp about the pageant and he still supported me. He has supported me all the way.
How did your father feel as parent to the Prettiest Girl in Nigeria at that time?
He felt so good. But as I said, the Prettiest Girl In Nigeria pageant wasn’t fulfilling and wasn’t giving me what I deserved and wanted and most especially expected by moving to the next level. All the same, he still encouraged me and I think I owe him a lot for letting me contest after the first one and now he’s proud of me and understands what a pageant is, something that should help a young lady grow and help her achieve greatness and move forward in life.
It is quite unusual for beauty queens getting engaged with sports. Where does your interest in sports stem from?
Right from when I was a child, I have always loved sports and I wanted to do something different from what every other person has been doing, everyone is into the less privileged and orphanages and I have not seen these as big challenges because many people have been able to do justice to it. I wanted to do something new that will help the youths in several areas of their lives. That is why I decided to use sports as a tool and how it keeps the youth from being idle. It also helps build youths while helping the society grow.
What have you been able to achieve through sports?
We have gone to schools and we have been able to help students and youths generally in a way of encouraging them to get involved in sports and make good use of their skills and talent. Several schools, which include Army Children Schools, have benefited and we have also done the same in several parts of the country.
How do you intend spreading your tentacles knowing fully well that you are no longer responsible for activities in Nigeria alone but for all other African countries?
I am so happy that my team and I have been able to develop so much in Nigeria and now we can go out and do some tangible things in other parts of Africa. We have been putting together ideas because it is big and would be challenging, so we want to start from five African countries, South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sierra Leone. We also know that the World Cup is coming up in South Africa and we are doing our best to ensure that child abuse, child trafficking and child prostitution are avoided by all means. We know several people will come with several favours and promises just to lure these youths but we are already working to curb and avoid all that to see that the youths embrace sports truly and not the vices while using the opportunity of the biggest sporting event to achieve greatness. We would also be supervising the projects of other queens in Africa to ensure that they promote the Commonwealth aims and objectives. And all the cultural queens would also be reporting their activities to me and we can all make Africa greater.
Would you say your pretty face has been doing the magic for you?
I think so because at the end of the day, they say first impression matters a lot, so partly, yes but it’s just a little area because the major thing is how you can sell yourself, how the people perceive you, what ideas you have got to offer and what benefit it is to the people around you and the society at large. When I started initially, I didn’t know it was going to be this hard but it is good.
What enhancement do you use for the pretty face?
I eat rice and drink a lot of water and I don’t miss my daily exercise.
Is there any possibility of your going back to practicing as a microbiologist after your reign?
No. I’m done with that after I’ve been able to graduate and what I really want to study now is cosmetology and therapy, making women feel comfortable with themselves.
What is your take on the Nigerian modelling industry?
Terrible, terrible, terrible. The industry is terrible. That is all I can say!
Are you saying this because you are no longer in the industry?
No. Even while I was there, it is that same feeling and notion that I had. People tell you good things but when you are in it, you know better and learn a lot. Some of these modelling agencies just recruit girls and they don’t give them basic training and they think it’s all about walking on the runway but there is a whole lot like the image building, carriage, how to talk and several areas. There is no governing body for the industry and models are at the mercy of these people. And in terms of pageantry, the major problem is that some of these organisers are not truthful, they promise heaven and earth, at least from my own past experience I could tell, and they don’t fulfil their promises and even when you are yearning to help them by moving the crown forward, they are not always interested, all they want is selling the forms and making money out of the forms and that is really bad. I think they also need a regulatory body.