Sunday, August 7, 2016 4:32 pm
By Emese Afolabi
Her story went viral on print and social media in 2015. Why? She, a white lady, was selling sachet water on Lagos streets. She did that to draw the attention of the government to street hawkers, the wretched of the earth who need all the helps they can get. Now, White Naija Girl, (Barede is her Adopted Nigerian name), is here with another intervention. This time, it is socio-cultural in nature.
White Naija Girl is not your ordinary lady. She is a lady on a mission. This is to show to the world the positive side of Nigeria which is often ignored. Married to a Yoruba man, White Naija Girl, as she is famously known, has come to accept and embody the Nigerian culture. For her, the Nigerian culture is one that brims with energy, beauty and spirit. These days, she is flying in and out of Nigeria, learning as much as she can, introducing Nigeria to other European girls.
Five years ago, she started chronicling her experience as the wife of a Nigerian man on her blog, but in 2015, she visited Nigeria for the first time and fell in love with it so much so that she adopted Oke Arowa in Ogun State, southwest of Nigeria as her home town. It was there in Oke Arowa, that she was introduced to food production, garri and palm oil. She hopes to, one day, return there to start a food processing.
In 2015, a video of her selling sachet ‘pure’ water on a street in Lagos was shot. The video which was made as a plea to the powers that be, to vigorously combat the looming unemployment rate in Nigeria, soon went viral. The experience heralded her resolve to be more active and help bring better opportunities to the many young Nigerians who are currently unemployed.
Her three-year old son, Barede, was sent to live in Ogun State with her mother in law, who taught him about the ways of the Yoruba people. In 2016, she was back in Nigeria with renewed zeal to learn and engage with people. After all, as she puts in ‘talk is cheap, let’s get down to the business’. Her passion for women and children is in part driving her to keep promoting Nigeria in the West. She sees Nigerian women as strong, intelligent, resilient and graceful. According to her, ‘women can make a substantial impact when their strengths are pooled. Her dream is to see a Nigeria where most women function at a very high level in business, governance and every other sector, a Nigeria where the girl child has the opportunity to become whatever she wants to become.
With this in mind, White Naija Girl has started by connect European women to Nigerian fashion. Nigeria is home to many industrious women who make wonderful designs. These women work so hard but get paid so little for their work. During her last trip to Nigeria, she worked with one young lady, Deborah who made some outfits for her. Back in the UK, she organised a fashion shoot with six beautiful European ladies wearing the collection. They absolutely loved it and some would even love to have their own. As Nigerian music is already big export to the west, and the West loves it, the time has come for Nigerian fashion to win the hearts of fashion conscious white ladies. It is important that women connect globally. After all women all over the world, have similar experiences and we must open our arms to help each other.
Whilst respecting and learning about the Nigerian culture, White Naija Girl derives great joy from her role as bridge to the West. It is undeniable that her uncanny feat, selling sachet ‘pure’ water on the street of Lagos has endeared her to many. She simply wants to help build a fantastic Nigeria for her children and others. Her photo shoot with the European ladies was not just another fashion shoot, it is a statement, a message to the world about the strength and creativity of Nigerian women. Every nation has its goodwill ambassador, my mission is to show to the world, that side of Nigeria that is often ignored.
Find out more about White Naija Girl on Instagram : @whitenaijagirl and Facebook