With MEGN platform Okitavwota set to boost tourism, promote better society
Charming and soft-spoken Tracy Aghogho Okitavwota believes that the country has diverse cultures that could be used to promote unity and sanitise the society.
For the Ethiope Local Council of Delta State native, her ambition is to be the next Most Elegant Girl in Nigeria (MEGN) come November.
According to her, winning the pageant will not only give her the desired platform to carry out charitable projects, but also cater for the less privileged and embark on projects that will positively impact on youths, foster peace and promote the nation’s culture; using it as avenue to boost tourism.
How would your crowning boost tourism? ‘Since I will be representing Nigeria internationally, it then means I have to come up with programmes, which I will not reveal now to showcase her cultures, project the country in the good light and attract tourists to the various cultural destinations across the country.
“Many people living outside the country, especially in Europe, and even America, believe Nigerians are bad, but this is not true. But we do not have to blame them for their stand, because their media have presented us to them as bad people and we need strong force to change the narrative. It goes beyond what government alone can do. So, I hope to use my position as queen to embark on cultural diplomacy, tell the people that if at all there are bad Nigerians, the percentage of good Nigerians is much higher than the bad ones.
“It burns my heart that the right information are not getting to the people outside the country. This on its own has made some foreigners to begin to lose hope on Nigeria, because what they keep hearing is killings, unemployment, security challenges, blackout, among others, as if there is a country without its own challenges,” she said.
Saying she does not have the magic wand to turn the wheel around overnight, disclosed that platforms would be set up to create awareness on the plights of youths, the girl child and enlighten people on domestic violence.
Was this the reason you are interested in the arts and culture?
Tracy, who was among the top five of the Queen of South South Nigeria in 2015, noted, “we cannot runaway from our culture,’ adding that it enables us to express ourselves to the outside world, tell them who we are as a people and attract investments to the country.
“Our local arts and culture create opportunities for political expression, community dialogue, enable us share experiences and as well embark on civic works. They make us responsive and responsible to one another and the community we come from.”
Though some African culture are repugnant to modern expectations, “we only need do away with such and move ahead. Our culture is dynamic and laden with morals of which if we follow some of the teachings our society will be better off.
“The Nigerian arts and culture, and by extension, the African arts, be it paintings, sculpture, installation, music, theatrical performances, among others reveal our history, origin and give some expressions, which mere words cannot convey. They are veritable weapons for development which we have not really harnessed to their fullest,” she noted. The Delta State University student observed that pageants are some of the ways to showcase the arts and culture of a people; tell their stories and enlighten the outsiders, including locals who are ignorant.
According to her, such education is far reaching and cannot be got within the four walls of a classroom.
“Pageants are very important for the economy because they provide platform for participants to showcase their talents and also serve as avenues to discover new ones. They celebrate, empower and create opportunities for talents, especially young people, to develop themselves and embark on community projects that impact positively on different groups of people. They give voices to the voiceless and also stand as a great charitable organization for all, apart from boosting the economy, local or otherwise,” she said.