THE BURDEN TO BECOME A MODEL FROM THE NORTHERN END OF NIGERIA | MyStreetz Magazine THE BURDEN TO BECOME A MODEL FROM THE NORTHERN END OF NIGERIA – MyStreetz Magazine

THE BURDEN TO BECOME A MODEL FROM THE NORTHERN END OF NIGERIA

THE BURDEN TO BECOME A MODEL FROM THE NORTHERN END OF NIGERIA

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THE BURDEN TO BECOME A MODEL FROM THE NORTHERN END OF NIGERIA

As children, our teachers and folks taught us to have dreams and persist until they are achieved. This idea becomes part of the fabric of our growing up process but is it not ironic that in some situations, some of those who inspired us to stand for what we believe in are indirectly activating norms that will deter us from reaching for the sky. The desire to become a successful model in a more civilized environment is not an easy task but it is even harder to achieve that if you are from the northern end of Nigeria. The tradition and local beliefs are killing the dreams of models. I sat with a model to hear her story:

Niri Gwott

Niri Gwott

My name is Niri Gwott. I am from Plateau state, lived there all my life. I am 22 years old and currently rounding up my degree in Educational Administration and Planning at the University of Jos, Plateau state. I come from a family of three, an elder, a younger brother and myself.

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon but my parents made sure we had everything we needed, in fact my brothers and I attended private primary and secondary schools.

Niri Gwott

Niri Gwott

I started modeling when I got to the University. It wasn’t planned but I like to believe that it has always been part of me from childhood. When I was still very young, I remember one of my aunties called me Miss World because according to her, I was always giving a little extra to everything, from my walking step to my poses in pictures at birthday parties and other events. In high school, my classmates always said I looked like one of those skinny, tall and dark Kenyan models. Then I found it offensive and always got angry when they talked about it. After high school, i applied for Psychology but was offered Educational Administration and Planning. I had good human relations and was always giving advice to friends so I felt it was what I should study. Gaining admission was quite a big deal so I went for the course I was offered without a single interest in teaching or educational administration. When I got to the University, an anonymous person (till today I still don’t know the person’s identify) bought me a form for a pageant in school. I had no interest at that time, but the lady who delivered the form told me it wouldn’t be nice to refuse such an offer so I decided to try. I won.

niri-4

I contested for two other pageants after that and won too. It was becoming exciting and intriguing. I realized that apart from baking, I had no interest in doing any other thing. I started wanting more and it was all directed towards modeling. I did a few poster covers for shows and parties and a little modeling within Plateau state but I still wanted more. I wanted to be on the big screen, the cover pages of magazines, the celebrity gossip sites. I wanted my name to be the first that would come to mind when people talked about models, not just in Nigeria but internationally. The first step I took was to purchase the form for Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (still awaiting auditions) because I believed it will be a giant step to realizing my dreams and aspirations. I have been told numerous times by different people that I am extremely persistent and I believe them because I never stop till I get what I want.

My family is the biggest challenge I am facing. They have been drenched in the myth surrounding modeling that they feel it’s not what their baby girl should be into. I don’t blame them, not even a bit; it’s what the society portrayed. They supported me during my pageants but the idea of me going into modeling as a career is out of the picture. Well I am persistent, it’s going to take a lot of energy to manage my career and convince my family but as it is always being said: ‘You have more than you think you do’. So I will keep pushing till I get my big shot, it’s out there and I will get there.

Modeling is certainly not a bed of roses but it gets even harder for models in Northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria is known for its strict principles, and that has put models on the line. The myths surrounding modeling have over the years empowered northerners to criticize models and make them feel like their occupation is not dignifying. They are being looked upon as promiscuous young people with no direction in life. These beliefs are making so many young people (especially girls) interested in modeling to give up their dreams. Some strive to follow their dreams but their families are not being supportive. Although there are families that understands and grants full support, the society makes them the topic of discussion. Personally, I have considered giving up my modeling dream and aspirations because apart from the challenges I am yet to face in the industry, I have faced others that made me weary. But how can I give up on the one dream that makes me feel hopeful about tomorrow? I have pursued my career and I won’t stop till my jaws drop when I see how far I have gone. I like to believe that I have just begun my life race and I will keep running. When I fall, I’ll get back up because it doesn’t matter how fast I run; what matters most is my arrival at my destination.

–        Niri Gwott

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