…The ELITES Celebrates The Former Beauty Queen, Lawyer, Political Activist and Social Welfarist At Hitting The Golden Age
The city of London came alive a few days ago, when former beauty queen, Omasan Tokunbo Buwa celebrated her 50th birthday. Buwa marked her day with a quiet dinner party in London, which was put together by her friends.
Beyond being a former beauty queen, Omasan, (fondly called Max Buwa by her friends) is a lawyer, political activist and social welfarist.
She is the former Executive Assistant to the former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State. She has also worked as a model, television presenter, restauranteur and actress.
Buwa was born in Paddington, London, but moved to Nigeria with her mother, a civil servant and chef with the Nigerian Airways at the age of seven. She attended Government College, Ikorodu, where she was head of the Literary and Debating society and an athlete, representing her college in track and field events . She later gained admission into the University of Maiduguri to study English, and was on the books of Pandora model agency where she was hired by several designers including Dakova and Labanella.
In 1986, Buwa competed in Miss Nigeria and lost to Stella Okoye, but achieved greater success when she represented Warri in the second Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant in 1987. Her coronation, ironically, was marred by protests from the audience who favored her first runner up, Niki Onuaguluchi who had flown in from Los Angeles to compete in the pageant. The judges defended their decision on grounds that Niki, who stood at 5’6 did not stand a chance against the taller contestants for the forth coming Miss Intercontinental pageant. Buwa, on her own part, publicly accused her first runner up of bringing people into the contest to cheer her to victory. As the contest had taken place late in the year, Buwa ruled for most of 1988, but quickly gained a reputation as MBGN’s most unconventional winner and was described as a tomboy by the Nigerian press. After representing Nigeria in Miss Universe, Miss Intercontinental, and Miss World in 1988, she returned to the University of Maiduguri but was suspended by the institution’s predominantly Muslim authority who were enraged at her decision to compete in a pageant, forcing her to withdraw from her course.
As an actress, Buwa starred in the movie Scattered Pictures, and the soap operas Memories and Ripples. Of her short-lived acting career, she has stated “I didn’t act because of the money involved. Maybe we were paid N10,000 which was a lot of money then, but I was simply having fun.”
Her romance with Television involved presenting weekend breakfast programme Morning Ride on NTA 2 Channel 5, and regular segments with BEN Television London. A tabloid favourite, Buwa also owned a restaurant/jazz bar in Lagos before moving into aesthetics and cosmetology, subsequently opening her own modelling agency, in conjunction with designer Funmi Ajila who both discovered future actress Ibinabo Fiberesima.
Following her marriage, Buwa moved to New York, where she worked as a make-up artist; her clients included Naomi Campbell and Mary J. Blige. Buwa would later move back to her birth country to continue her education, and in 2002 she graduated with a Law degree from the North London University.
After obtaining her degree, Buwa moved back to America, where she worked as an attorney, therapeutic social worker for MRDD patients and part-time model in Ohio. She is also a columnist with The Diasporan Star, an American-based Nigerian magazine, and writes the column “Generation Max” for Whispaz Magazine.
In 2009, Buwa returned to Nigeria to work on her new project, Youth Empowerment and Development in Delta, an organisation for the “monitoring, mentoring and motivation” of the youth in her native Delta state. As fate would have it however, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, the former governor of Delta state, in pushing to achieve heightened success in his ‘human capital development’ agenda, saw the need for Omasan to use her social work skills and experience to bridge the gap and attend to the needs of persons with disabilities. Her initiated program RISE focuses on rehabilitative and social interaction of physically challenged persons. In 2009, she was appointed as executive assistant to the governor of Delta, specialising in disability.
Since divorced, however, still friends with her ex-husband, Buwa is a single mother of two boys and a girl. Not surprising is the humanitarian gene her boys, the Odumosu twins, have inherited: they organized and held charity/dance events to raise money for the less privileged. Tagged RISE (1and 2), it is the Lagos State equivalent of their mother’s pet project, which she has run in DELTA state in view of incorporating a social welfare system as well as inclusion into society for persons with disabilities.