CINDERELLA

Is Nigeria’s fairy tale rags to riches girl being exploited for her sudden fame?

Obsession
Nigeria Now
Quartz africa
Obsession
Nigeria Now
Quartz africa

It is only February and the story of Olajumoke Orisaguna’s rise to prominence is already a shoe-in for feel-good story of the year. At the start of the month, the 27-year old mother of two eked out a living hawking bread in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center, and making profits of only $1 a day. These days though, she is at the start of what already looks like a promising modelling career.

Her fortunes changed when she photobombed UK popstar Tinie Tempah during a shoot in Lagos TY Bello, one of the city’s leading photographers.

TINIETEMPAH TEMPAH : DISTURBING LAGOS …. Oga Tinie.. Disturbing Lagos Keh ..? You sure ? my hand no dey o.. We no dey do that kine ruff play for here o. I've photographed so many international celebrities in this town.. From Beyonce to Arnold Schwarzenegger … I was looking through my archives the other day and said to my self .. Never again.. !Never in some fancy hotel room that could have been anywhere else on the planet . There's no where like Lagos and If they ever cross my path again I'll drag them out to where they can touch and feel My Lagos . .. And fall in love with it. So of course when I was asked to meet up with @tiniegram at his hotel I was like ..Lai-Lai!! Abeg bring the man to Yaba and let's shoot this something ! I love lagos ..I won't lie .. The streets are a literal Photographer's paradise .. Every where you turn there's a story waiting to be told .., textures waiting to be shot and characters waiting to be explored ..it's hard for me to make a bad picture when my spirit is really open on the steets ..I can just stand there and magic walks into my frame . The beautiful bread seller in the red dress in one of my edits for instance ..You know her Abi?.. That one that every one on the street wants to marry .. She's fine and she knows it. its all over how she walks and I know you've seen her before . She walked onto our set and magic happened ..it wasn't planned at all ..I didn't even know I nailed the narrative until I edited a few days later . Someone accused me of dragging @tiniegram on the streets ..That I should have taken him to somewhere 'prettier '… My response : So you haven't heard …?The street is where it's happening o.. You haven't seen pretty till you've seen the sun set in the quiet corners of Surulere ..You're missing out on a unique love vibe if you haven't taken her for a walk in railway compound..And if you only exist where freshly baked, steamy Agege bread is completely out of reach .. You may have to consider reorganizing it all.. I mean …What's the point! #tybellophotography #photostories #thisdaystyle #tinietempah #lagos #yaba #steetlove #mrmattewsworshop #okunorentwins @thisdaystyle

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The photo went viral on social media and having photographed so well, TY Bello, sought Olajumoke out and offered her a route into the the limelight. The response was overwhelming as Olajumoke became an instant hit. Within a week she featured on the cover of a leading style magazine in Nigeria, got signed up on a professional modelling contract and was signed up as the face of local bank Stanbic IBTC and as a brand ambassador by PayPorte, an online retail store. She has also been offered a home and her two kids bagged educational scholarships from the bank. Her story has been featured on CNN, Buzzfeed and HuffPost.

OLAJUMOKE ORISAGUNA : THE BEGINNING I've asked my self over and again why all of this is happening . One thing is clear .. This woman here is no charity case .. We met her in the middle of her hustle … The woman works hard.. Seven days a week .. With a family to support .. But with dignity ..who pays that much attention to how she looks as she's about to hawk bread … Arranging the bread so delicately like it was work much more .. Making sure she left the bakery while it was steamy and hot … Every body likes their bread hot . .. All of this even when it's clear that her profit in a day is between N300-500 . This is the story of so many Nigerians .. The young house selling gala in traffic… The woman braiding hair under the bridge .. Nigerians work hard and we go it with style … This has taught us and I hope everyone reading to pay a little attention ., to those clearly working hard around us .. You may have your own wahala to deal with .. But nothing gives you a bigger break from your troubles than just making life easier for someone else .. Give an orange seller a N1000 note and she may be able to take the next day off to attend to herself and her children . Jumoke is sorted … I personally believe so with all the doors opening up for her but This story is more about the 'jumokes'around you . Who put in all the work but just need a little push .You may not be able to help every one but as I learnt from someone I really respect … In your own unique way …. Do for the ONE what you would have liked to do for ALL. Jumoke ooo.. Wants to be a hairstylists but secretly nurses a fantasy to act in a Yoruba film one day .. I know she'll be a nollywood hit .. She did great in front of my camera and understood how to work the tiniest emotional nuances .She may not speak much English but can read and write in Yoruba…@kunleafo can you hear!!! So here she is our #olajumoke she can now be contacted and booked with @fewmodels . She's an amazing model . Wishing her all the best #makeupby @bimpeonakoya #zubbydefinition by @zubbydefinition #beautiful #lifemakeover #devine

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With her story almost too good to be true, Olajumoke was Nigeria’s modern day Cinderella. But now, there are fears that her story might be snowballing out of control with brands seemingly eager to latch onto her remarkable story and gain traction. This sentiments have been triggered by an announcement by a youth politics forum that Olajumoke will be speaking at the event as a ‘motivational speaker’. The overriding response suggests that many feel Olajumoke’s story is being exploited.

Dami Elebe, a Lagos-based radio presenter and pop culture enthusiast, says stretching Olajumoke’s story so quickly could be dangerous for her new career. “People will be tired of Olajumoke as a model way before the career even starts,” Elebe told Quartz. “Every company is clinging to her to be seen, heard and talked about. It is not about her, it is about them.”

Despite her sudden fame, the buzz around Olajumoke will inevitably quieten at some point and then she will have to knuckle down on building a successful career as a model. “She must not believe in the hype because after the initial fame she will have to struggle for the spotlight like everyone else.”

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