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Grass To Grace Story of Bread Seller-Turned-Model, Jumoke Orisaguna



Her story is like the Biblical Jabesh, whom many people thought could not make it in life, but later rose to become someone everybody wanted to associate with.

In just few weeks, she has soared above her painfully obscure background. Her fortunes have changed. She started as a bread seller, but now she is a celebrity, and has also become a model, motivational speaker, millionaire, and a role model all without any kind of lobbying or any enviable educational background.

In local parlance, God has picked up and answered the call of Jumoke Orisaguma. Fast-rising afro-pop artiste and Orente crooner, Adekunle Gold, last December dropped a new song, titled Pick Up, which has become an instant hit and upstaged Korede Bello’s I Don Get Alert, Godwin. Pick Up, which is rendered in Yoruba, is a prayer asking for God’s blessings. Modeled after a telephone call, the musician in the song implores God to ‘pick up’ and answer his call.

Since Jumoke got her ‘pick up’, her life has never remained the same. The mother of two is now the face of online shopping brand, Payporte and Stanbic IBTC Bank. Jumoke is also the proud owner of a luxury apartment in Lagos. These days, people no longer pray for daily bread, they want to hit the streets to ‘sell’ the proverbial bread.

The latest model whose full first name, Olajumoke, is affectionately shortened to Jumoke has now joined popular on-air personalities, Toke Makinwa and former Big Brother Africa first runner-up, Tayo Faniran, as fellow brand ambassadors of Payporte.

Stanbic IBTC was also quick when it used her image in one of its adverts, which went viral on the Internet on Monday, cementing her place as a model to be reckoned with in the country.

Basking in the glow of her new fame, Jumoke is also enjoying massive media exposure locally and globally, the latest coming from international news network, Cable News Network (CNN.)

Her story has become an inspiration to all categories of people with little means of income, especially every tall, model-looking bread seller out there, hanging on the statement that someday luck might smile on them.

It’s a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. A young street seller oblivious to the scene ahead, her wares perched atop her head, photo-bombed a shoot and in that split second her life changed forever.

Originally a hairstylist from Osun State, she was struggling to make ends meet, and left her husband and two children in their home town to become a street vendor in Lagos. Renowned photographer, TY Bello, was behind the change in Jumoke’s fortunes.

TY Bello was photographing UK pop star, Tinie Tempah, when Jumoke walked into the shoot.

“She seemed a little confused,” said Bello. “Some people were asking her to walk past really quickly, others were asking her to stay, and she was just in limbo. I said ‘is it okay to take your photograph?’ And she nodded ok.”

A teary-eyed Jumoke said she never expected her fortunes to turn around like this. “I never expected that this could ever happen to me. My friends have told me they saw me on TV and they are really happy. My parents cannot believe their own child can become such a success. They are all so happy,” she said.

However, Ayo Shonaiya, a TV producer, lawyer and music talent agent, has expressed his fears for the former Agege bread seller. Sharing his opinion on his Facebook page recently, he noted that at the risk of sounding like a hater, he is genuinely nervous about the amazing story of Jumoke.

“This type of story gladdens everyone’s heart and serves as inspiration to millions of people, but I can’t help but look beyond the fairytale and feel a sense of apprehension at the same time. In my line of work, my job is to look where no one else is looking when it comes to negotiating contracts, maximising earning potential for talent, and pretty much protect such talent, and I pray to God there’s someone doing that for this girl.

“When I saw that this Olajumoke girl couldn’t even speak or read English, my first concern was she’s going to be bewildered by a lot of things, especially in the fashion and modeling world in Nigeria. The sudden fame and spotlight, even often times confuse ‘experienced’ talents. I really do hope and pray that, whatever happens to Olajumoke from now on, she is well protected. The fashion and modelling industry can be the worst place you wanna be when ‘they’ decide you’re no longer happening or trending, or worse, not useful anymore,” he stated.

Also, popular fashion designer and CEO of Ouch! Clothing, Uche Nnaji, has taken to Instagram to write an open letter to Nigerian banks as they struggle to use Jumoke as the face of their brands, to forget about the mad rush for her endorsement and rather help grow small businesses.

“I am still excited and happy that TY Bello allowed God use her to turn around the captivity (circumstance) of Olajumoke, but I am shocked at the sudden awareness by corporate bodies to jump on the bandwagon to celebrate her with all sorts of ‘gifts’ from apartments to endorsements, as if this act has or will take away all the other million Jumokes on our streets searching and waiting for their own TY Bello.

“The shocker for me is seeing a Nigerian bank rushing to make Olajumoke a brand ambassador, when they would not move an inch to save a dying Nigerian. This action has further shown that most banks seldom grasp their role in growing the economy. Olajumoke is one individual, but a business or an idea the Nigerian bank supports or celebrate can become a new Facebook or Dangote, which would create jobs and feed families,” she wrote.

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