In her wildest imagination, Abiola Hafsat Bashorun never thought she would win the 2006 Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) Beauty Contest. Little did her widowed mother know, when she procured the entry forms for her daughter to beat the tedium of idleness – the result of Abiola’s after-school unemployment – that it was a date with destiny.
Early in childhood, Abiola had many close encounters of the personal kind with sickle cell anaemia. She had neighbors and friends who lived with SCD and she witnessed first-hand their untrammeled suffering. Abiola’s empathy for folks with sickle cell reached its height when, in 1998, her bosom friend, whom she would not name, succumbed to the blood disorder at the age of 10. Abiola still has many surviving friends with the disorder but again, she would not name them. The MBGN is super-sensitive to the ethics of naming her friends!
Would not the MBGN make a really good medical practitioner, then? No, she declined; she would rather be a lawyer — just like her mother.
‘No blood and gore for me — I want to study Law and defend the rights of the common man,’ declared the MBGN who, incidentally, admires the fire-spitting Lagos Lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi. Well, lawyers have non-disclosure mores too!
Not allowed to have any romantic relationships because of her position as Nigeria’s beauty ambassador — indeed she has a small staff who double as chaperon to ward off distracting male attention — the pretty MBGN was asked what sort of man she would fall for. Frowning slightly as though previewing her man, she replied — ‘a kind and loving man, a good friend and companion.’ Would Miss Bashorun marry a man with sickle cell if he fits her requirements?
‘Certainly I would. There is nothing the matter with a man with SCD. I can easily see myself falling in love with and gladly marrying such a man. My genotype is AA and that means I can marry someone whose genotype is SS without comprising the health of our children.’
Abiola admonishes lovers to ascertain their genotype before getting committed. Although she advised intending couples to consult genetic counselors, left to her, couples who harbor the sickle cell trait should avoid marriage.
A voracious reader and adherent of the Biblical injunction to pay tithe, Nigeria’s Most Beautiful Girl and hot contender for Miss World attends the Winners Christian Fellowship in Lagos.
Culled from SICKLE CELL BULLETIN, (2006). SICKLE CELL BULLETIN is published by Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria