My Growing Up was Traumatic -Adaigbo Zuruoke recalls

By Mercy Hill

Why did you apply to study Mass Communication, instead of going for a Football Academy?

I am presently into Media, I started working in Fides Media officially, so, I felt I could study and still practice sports.

You had a very rocky path in your childhood. What kept you moving?

I am a big fan of Our Blessed Mother Mary, she kept me moving. Do you know I have attempted committing suicide a couple of times? I remember taking poison twice, but it did not kill me. I also believe God has overseen `everything that concerns me. He allows only what he wants to happen to happen. If I had succeeded in killing myself, I will not be where I am right now.

How did you survive all the attempts?

I am also blessed with the gift of dreams. I have revelations of things that would happen to me. Anytime I think of any negative thing I want to do to myself; Our Blessed Mother Mary will appear to me in the dream and she would encourage me to keep moving despite the circumstance.

You have a lot of things you are involved with already, like the sports, writing amongst others. What led you to pageantry?

I met a friend at the Young Catholic Students’ Camp some time ago. She happened to be a tomboy like me. Recently, she won an online contest which was a girly position. I have more female features than she does. But she contested and won. When I saw that, I was moved, and I felt encouraged to do something better.

Fortunately for me, I met the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ada Igbo Zuruoke Media Enterprise at a show I attended to perform as an entertainer. We exchanged contacts and I follow her updates most times on WhatsApp. One day, she posted the advert for the Ada Igbo Zuruoke contest. It was then I asked her if I could contest since I was a tomboy. She said yes, you can. I got in touch with her and registered.

When I went for auditions, the CEO was shocked to see me because I was dressed like a lady not the tomboy she knew before. It will beat your imagination that I made it through the audition, notwithstanding the number of girly looking pretty contestants. It was then I realized that I had to work on myself.

Did you ever wish to give up during the period of the pageantry?

At the initial time of registration, a friend of mine paid for the form. I did not really involve people until it was time for publicity. Other expenses also came in, my friend, who paid for the form said he could not pay any more bills because it demanded a lot of money.

With fear of being stopped, I reluctantly had to tell my Dad, Fr Obinna about it, he asked me to forget about the pageantry that I was too young for that. I almost gave up even to the point of pulling out. But I gave him every reason why I should continue. He later agreed. I started asking friends and family for support.

It got to a point I was scared it would not work, especially because I got a low engagement on my post on Instagram which also was adding to my total score. I tried my best and got the expected amount especially for the ticket we were given to sell. As we got to camp, I realized that I was the only one who sold all the tickets allocated to all contestants. I was in awe.

The support I got from Priests, DOSAD and Fides Media was alarming.

That alone encouraged me to keep moving because at that point, it was not about me again. I then knew I had people who expected me to come home victorious, and I would not want to disappoint them. They really tried for me, even the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Awka was there for me.

Tell us your greatest achievements aside winning the pageantry.

I believe strongly that if I die now, I did not die young because I have made a lot of impact especially in the lives of children. From my home Parish, the people I taught Catechism, the altar girls, the dancers, I call my children. I have impacted a lot in their lives. I believe they will never forget me.

My working with DOSAD, Fides Media, Nollywood and every other thing I am involved in. I am so proud of myself attaining all these heights. Imagine that I was regarded as someone who was not supposed to be in the world, I almost took my life in frustration, now I am the one most people look up to. What if I had died? What would have been said of me?

Now as Ada Igbo Zuruoke Worldwide, what do you plan to do with your office?

As the winner of the first Ada Igbo Zuruoke, themed the Enterprising Igbo Maiden, I plan to open an organization to bring Igbo maidens together. In that organization, I will have Igbo maidens from different parts of Igbo land, {in the country and in Diaspora}learn about Igbo Language and Culture. They would have to understand the difference between ‘Odinala and the Omenala’, etc.

Odinaana is the fundamental Igbo culture while Omenaana is the changes people agree to make in Igbo culture. We would also pay special attention to maidens learning the Igbo Language. I look forward to working with the International Organization of Otu Sụwakwa Igbo and many Igbo groups.

These steps would help preserve the Igbo Culture. I also would gladly work with anybody or any organization that cares about young girls, their wellbeing, and the Igbo Culture. I believe if we work together, we will achieve greater heights.

Who do you refer to as the Igbo Maidens?

Maidens are ladies between 18 and 30 years, that can take responsibilities for themselves. They can take decisions on their own without people deciding for them.

What has this position done for you as an individual?

This position has really helped shape my life and bring me to the reality that I am a girl. Being a tomboy has brought some misconceptions about me; some people even say I am a lesbian. The training I had to go through before the contest helped me do more girly things, even when I walk, I move graciously. I do not do things the way I used to before now, I now catwalk (laughs).

My dress sense has been restructured and I move knowing that I am now a model to other Igbo girls, and I have responsibilities on my shoulders to be a light unto others.

How did the tomboy style start?

I cannot point out to how or when it started, but I think I started while I was in primary school, I played football with guys then, {because I wanted to be a footballer}. I spent more time with my male friends also. These are the only things I can point out.

You spoke about your acting career, take us through your Nollywood journey?

I started producing skits on my own to post them on my social media accounts. I felt I could do more than that. So, I decided to join a Film Academy called Rich Production. This Academy was owned by Rev Fr Richard Ekegbo. The first time I acted with celebrities was when we went for a production at Ogidi. After this encounter with celebrities, I developed more courage to do things better.

I was picked immediately for another movie production and I was happy about that. The movie Director, John Cosmos, picked me from one of the productions and said he wanted me to work with him. He taught me how to subtitle and edit movies for free. He gave me jobs to subtitle, it was not easy, because with my many responsibilities I barely had time for myself.

I stopped doing every other thing. Fr Dike called my attention to it. I decided to drop it for a while and continue with other things. I joined another production, Nolly TV, based in Enugu. We have produced a lot of movies since I joined them. Some of the movies are online.

What is your advice to young people out there, especially those who had similar or worse childhood experience as yours?

Be focused. Do not give up. Do what is right. People would always come with different pieces of advice, you alone have the right to weigh them, and take the ones you feel will be of help to you. Believe in yourself. Take good and reasonable risks, God will always send people to support you.

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