bianca-onoh-ojukwu-cnpIn barely two years from now, it would be 20 years since the then Miss Bianca Onoh was crowned Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN). After two decades, were she to enter the upcoming one, chances are that Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu would beat many younger contestants to the grand finale.

Many people can still remember that Bianca won the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) beauty pageant in 1988.

However, much fewer people could easily recall that she was also crowned “Miss Intercontinental,” the following year, because any recall of 1989 more easily evokes memories of how a beauty queen threw off her crown in favour of romance. Not only that, it was also in 1989 that Bianca settled on marriage with her father’s childhood friend. Bianca and Ojukwu thus lent further credence to the belief that “where love takes over, age is nothing but a number.”

She’s been described as a most mesmerizing personality. You couldn’t debate that. To be candid, but some startling revelations contributed to our being held spellbound for so long. Did you know that Mrs. Ojukwu has actually lost some money? And would you believe that, when Bianca won the MBGN pageant she was filled more with anxiety than joy?

And come to think of it, Bianca never really wanted to take part in any beauty contest for that matter. But for Bianca’s immediate elder sister, Lilian, who encouraged her to enter the 1988 pageant, that era’s MBGN and Miss Intercontinental crowns would have gone to another contestant.

Apparently owing to suspicions about the moral standing of beauty pageant contestants, those days, many prospective candidates’ desire to enter the competition met with stiff parental resistance. In the light of this fierce parental aversion to beauty pageants, organizers probably felt they had enough problems attracting the best contestants than to discourage some prospective ones with registration fees. Thus, the entry forms were free those days.

Going down memory lane, Mrs Ojukwu recalled that even when the forms came gratis, organizers still couldn’t be sure they had enough contestants simply going by the heap of entry forms. Hear her: “Sometimes, they thought they had enough candidates, but shortly before the preliminaries began many girls would have withdrawn, bowing to family pressures. It was like, one day they had 200 contestants and before you knew it, the number had dwindled to 80 the next morning and even 20, the day after.”
The ex-beauty queen reckoned some parents might not even have known their daughter was among the contestants, but the winner was always going to be like the fabled goldfish that has no hiding place.

The day after the pageant’s grand finale and for many days during the queen’s reign, her pictures were going to adorn the cover of many newspapers and magazines, so her parents were definitely going to know! “So, I was more worried than excited, when I won,” Mrs Ojukwu mused. It’s difficult to say she got off the hook lightly. Wondering if she possibly entered for the money, Bianca was probably more pampered than ever by her family that she never had cause to touch one kobo of the N12, 000 prize money throughout her reign. To date, that money remains intact “in some bank account somewhere,” she muttered.

“You just lost some money,” we observed. “How do you mean,” she queried. “In 1988, your N12, 000 was worth about $3, 000. Today, $3, 000 translates as N400, 000, whereas your N12, 000 is worth less than $100,” we explained.

And here she goes again, in a down to earth manner without being haughty: “So, what difference would that have made in my life?” That’s her family background wafting in. Her father, Chief Christian Onoh, succeeded Chief Jim Nwobodo as governor of Anambra State in the early 1980s. One of her uncles ran a successful medical practice in Lagos until his passage through the 1983 air crash at Emene near Enugu. Bianca also lost one of her older sisters to that tragedy. In fact, that sister was returning home after a visit to the United States to receive her doctorate degree. What does Bianca remember about this? “It was a most saddening experience, for me personnaly. Occasionally, you think of your departed loved ones. But you know, the image of that person in your mind is what he or she looked like before death. So, the person remains eternally young in your consciousness,” Bianca mused.

So, how about leaving the comfort of her home into sharing a lodge with snakes. Did that ever disturb her peace of mind? Bianca again: “I don’t see any thing peculiar in keeping pet snakes.” She said that growing up, one of her younger brothers actually kept water snakes as pets, too.

Now, does Mrs. Ojukwu think much of beauty pageants? She didn’t give a yes or no answer. For one, who had never attended any beauty contest since sweeping her two crowns in the late 1980s.
A stunning beauty, that’s one way of describing Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu. She’s been labelled “one of the most beautiful Igbo women ever,” but even this could pass for a disservice. Real beauty knows no borders. It is said that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” but some looks could literally make the blind see! Beauty like that of the Biancas of this world is “sans frontieres.”

But what does Dim Ojukwu think of his wife’s charming features? Dr. Ene says the Ikemba hit the nail on the head, when he wrote: “What can I say about this very beautiful young girl that won the 1989 Miss Inter-Continental pageant? … [If] I exclaim with all men that she is beautiful, it would be like standing in front of the Empire State Building in New York and exclaiming that the building is high. I would be stating the obvious and it would be trite.” That quote about Miss Bianca Onoh, comes from Chief Ojukwu’s 1989 book, ‘Because I am involved.’

But is it not said that beauty is only skin deep? Bianca is both beauty and brains. In fact, she won the MBGN crown while studying law at University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka.

Looking into her eyes, it’s easy to see why the “General” fell. As the great Fela would say, being Mrs. Ojukwu has brought out “the African woman” in Bianca.

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