Story: Eric Elezuo & Ehidiamen Blessing Obehi
Nike Oshinowo was only 13 years old when she was diagnosed of the disease, Endometriosis while in boarding school. Consequently, while she was busy winning the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) Pageant in 1991, competing at the Miss World competition, featuring in a commercial for Venus cosmetics and hosting a fashion and beauty show on Nigerian television, she was in deep pains, suffering the excruciating agony that comes with Endometriosis.
Endometriosis is an incurable gynaecological disorder that occurs when the Endometrium (cells lining the uterus) grow in other areas of the body. It is a condition in which tissue which normally grows inside the uterus grows outside the womb. It affects approximately 176 million women worldwide.
However, in 2005, some concerned persons came together to create awareness about the devastating disease. Their objective was to bring an end to the pains and trauma of girls and women who suffer from this condition. They inaugurated Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) with the commitment to raise awareness about endometriosis and provide help and support for those afflicted.
Recently, the ESGN hosted a Gala night of fun and fundraising for Endometriosis and awards in Lagos. The event aroused the interest of important dignitaries including the former beauty queen, Queen Nike Osinowo, who is also the ESGN Global Ambassador living with Endometriosis. Among others that came was a Super model from Tanzania, Millen Magase, ace musician, Sir Shina Peters, the winner of the most beautiful girl in Nigeria (MBGN), Unoaka Anyadike, Wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Her Excellency, Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo, Wife of the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Her Excellency, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, among others.
The presence of the two prominent personalities at the event aptly expressed the devastating effect of the disease, and the attention the world was paying to it.
In her speech, the ex-beauty queen, Nike Oshinowo, opened up about her struggle with Endometriosis and how she has been living with it since she was 13. The surrogate mother-of-two also revealed that she has had over 17 surgeries. She said:
“I have lived with Endometriosis since the age of 13. I was sent to boarding school in England. It was during the first few days in secondary school that I began my (menstrual) periods. They called the ambulance and I was hospitalised for 10 days because the pain started and wouldn’t stop.
“I thought I was going to die the first two days I was in the infirmary. I’m telling the story because it happened in England and, supposedly, with the white people, who knew best, yet had no idea what was wrong with me. Living with Endometriosis is a challenge. When you see your doctor, your doctor just tries to treat the symptoms and assumes the pain resolves around your menstrual cycle. But this is not so,” she explained.
The former face of Venus hinted that the disease comes with an excruciating pains that renders almost everything she gets engaged in useless, commenting that the agony of the infirmity has become part of her life.
“The pain affects every single aspect of your life. I have never had an examination without my period; I have never travelled without my period. There are so many things I have never done without my period. When I’m very happy, my period comes; when I’m depressed, my period is there. I learned just to cope with it. I love the quote that women wear their pain like stilettos. That’s what I have been doing.
Stating that she lived with the pains unnoticed for 27 years, Oshinowo did not engage in any form of alchoholism; no matter how small. It was at the age of 40 that she actually spoke up, intimating Nigerians of her ordeal. She also intoned that the disease somehow prompted her to leave a clean and healthy life
“Until I turned 40, Nigerians didn’t know I suffered from Endometriosis. I granted an interview and Nigerians understood why I never drank alcohol. You cannot be on medication and take alcohol. It was finally understood why I was so clean cut and into healthy living.
Really, I have lost count of the number of surgeries that I have had but I sure know that it’s more than 17 times.”
Each year, several partners show a high level of support to ESGN. Partners such as Nordica Fertility Centre (the foundation’s medical consultants since 2005), Diamond Woman, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), Ministry of health, Bharat Serums, the media, notables from Nollywood just to mention a few.
In sympathy with the agony encountered by patients, the Wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osibajo used the medium to challenge Nigerian medicals experts to find a cure for Endometriosis to end unnecessary suffering of women that experience the condition. She stated thus:
“It is scary and disturbing to me that millions of women and girls are living with this condition without diagnosis, and more sad that several are misdiagnosed, and heartbreaking to think that as we speak, so many are suffering because of the condition”.
Osinbajo observed that Endometriosis is one more threat and obstacle for women and girls to contend with at a time of violence against women and girls as higher than ever before.
“We must not let mothers become extinct, we should care for women and girls” she said adding it is based on this reason that she added her voice to the call by the ESGN in raising awareness about this condition,” she said.
It is worthy of note that in pains, agony and silent ordeal, Oshinowo thrived and live a fulfilled life, achieving most, if not all of her life desires.
Among many heartwarming qualifications, she is a multi-linguist, who speaks over five International languages including Japanese and French. She was the first Nigerian of Yoruba origin to win the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant.
After her reign which saw her compete at Miss World, Oshinowo featured in a commercial for Venus cosmetics and hosted a fashion and beauty show on Nigerian television. Her business ventures included an African restaurant and Skin Deep, a health and beauty spa which ran for seven years before it was sold after she decided to create her own range of beauty products for the Nigerian market. On January 17, 2010, she released the workout video Nike Oshinowo: Fit, Forty and Fabulous – the first celebrity fitness DVD produced in the country – and is currently working on the beauty products which will include fragrance, skincare, and haircare.
In 2010, after a six-year attempt, Oshinowo finally bought the Miss Nigeria franchise from former organisers Daily Times, and became chief executive and creative director of the pageant. As of 2012, she is no longer in charge, but is now working on another pageant in which the winner will reign for a hundred years. In 2014, Oshinowo launched her talk show Late Night with Nike Oshinowo on AIT
The ESGN is a Non-Governmental Organisation with the sole aim of assisting women, both young and old who are challenged with the Endometriosis condition. This empowerment is via education to the public and medical community, effect change through constant research and health screenings and lobbying the government for better support of this incurable condition.