14/Apr/2016 // 449 Viewers
As you read this piece, the Wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, unveils her new book, “The Essentials of Beauty Therapy: A complete Guide for Beauty Specialists” at an event slated to take place today in Abuja.
For those that may not know, our President’s wife is a beauty therapist, entrepreneur and skills acquisition consultant. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University. She is also an alumnus of Carlton Institute of London and the Academy Esthetigue Beauty Institute of France – post-graduate diploma in cosmetology and beauty therapy.
A beauty therapist is someone who is professionally trained and specialises in beauty treatments of both the face and body. As well as making their clients look beautiful, they are also responsible for making them feel good about themselves.
There is a novelty in the fact that the wife of a sitting President is presenting her professional work to the public. There is also an ingredient for cynicism. For the Nigerian lady who intensely wants to push the image of a confident, strong and cerebral citizen, there is cause to celebrate, and to intuitively see Mrs. Buhari as the unspoken poster girl for the new Nigerian woman.
But for that woman who is so given to laidback affluence enjoyed in a vicarious manner living off of her successful husband, Mrs. Buhari is a wet blanket, who is lucky to have climbed to the highest social ladder and then turns around to sneer at the many women who dream to have a whiff of the privileges the corridors of power could bring.
To this class, the magic of the First Ladyship is in the miracle-like transformation. To celebrate professional output while at that height is like trying to jinx the gravy train.
To me, President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife has unwittingly turned a new page in the evolution of the country’s socio-political power equation. From now on, just as Buhari changed the name from “First Lady” to “President’s Wife”, his spouse may have just changed the game – the country’s first woman is first an individual with a life and career, before a power figure. So, Nigerians must expect more than politico-feminine verbosity and contrived visage.
This will effectively snuff the life from that misnomer called “First Lady’s Pet Project”, with which so much noise was made and no lasting impact felt from the supposed breasts of the nation’s mother.
We have been bamboozled with all sorts of seeming patriotic projects from the then highly revered Office of the First Lady. Granted, some of the first ladies’ projects added value to many less privileged Nigerians, but weighing these gains against the time and resources splattered on the ventures in no structured manner, they ended up as part of the white elephants and fiscal carcasses that defined the descent of our dear country into an irredeemable rent-seeking Federation.
I concluded that the first ladies we had could not muster any personal cerebral zeal or mass enthusiasm to sustain their so-called “pet projects” when their husbands left office because the projects never represented their innate passions and capacities as they should. At best, these ephemeral schemes were tinkered together by praise singers, jobbers and hangers-on who see in the First Lady a new pipe to siphon the country’s wealth at no cost and with minimal commitment.
Mrs Buhari has given that aberration a terminal knock-out.
At least, we could be comforted by the fact that ours would soon become a nation like the United States, where the wife of the President is viewed against the backdrop of her professional life right before her ascension to the exalted pedestal of the First Family. Her pet project begins when her husband leaves office. At that time, the success of the project clearly shows the world the material with which she is made of.
Let us look at a couple of these American Presidents’ wives. Before her time as the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (wife of John F. Kennedy) was “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald. After her husband’s assassination, she became Editor at Viking Press and Doubleday; she also worked to create the John F. Kennedy Library; and also led a public information campaign to save New York’s Grand Central Station.
Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson (wife of Lyndon Johnson) was Chairman of the KLBJ radio station before her husband became president. After leaving the White House after their tenure, she authored White House Diary, and founded the National Wildflower Research Centre.
Elizabeth “Betty” Ford (wife of Gerald Ford) was a dancer in Martha Graham’s concert group, a fashion model and a dance instructor. After leaving the White House, she created the Betty Ford Treatment Centre.
Nancy Reagan (wife of Ronald Reagan) was a nurse’s aide, a Broadway and film actress, and Marshall Field’s sales clerk. When she left the White House with her former actor husband, she authored the book, My Turn, and founded the Nancy Reagan After School Programme; she also created and funded the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Institution for Research into Alzheimer’s Disease.
Much had been said, and written, about what would transpire in Nigeria’s First Family considering Buhari’s personal discipline and ascetic lifestyle. Many stretched their imaginations to adumbrate how a cosmopolitan-looking President’s wife could navigate in a perceptively tiny room provided by self-proclaimed system-over haulers.
In fact, it was based on this universal angst that my interest was piqued when I came across a copy of Mrs. Buhari’s book. Alas, I was thrilled by the little content I could glean! As is required from the nation’s First Lady, she should portray a positive image of the Nigerian woman, and that is what the book did.
In the book, I discovered that unlike what it seems, a beauty therapist is not the same as a beautician. Actually, a beauty therapist is an environmental worker because beauty therapy is largely eco-related. It is all about hygiene and health management.
For example, the chapter “Beauty Salon Ecology” discusses the meaning and importance of infection control, as well as the causes of infection and the conditions in which they thrive and spread. The chapter also outlines the methods used to prevent and control the spread of infection.
The beauty therapist is also a scientist. According to the book, “In order to perform beauty treatments safely and effectively on any part of the body, it is very important for beauty therapists to have a sound understanding of the underlying scientific principles involved. To achieve these, the basic anatomy of the human body and the functions and working of the principal body systems must be learned.”
I learnt that the beauty therapist utilises environmental resources for health purpose. For instance, hydrotherapy, a time-honoured technique that uses the properties of water such as temperature and pressure to stimulate healing and cleanse toxins, was dissected. A number of therapeutic treatments and approaches draw upon the healing properties of water for pain relief, making use of the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli.
Mrs Buhari’s book discusses waste disposal, hygiene and sanitation practices, client hygiene, salon hygiene, and personal hygiene, protection against possible risks, immunisation, and good hygiene knowledge.
At the end, I came out with a solid impression: in a profession populated by mostly women, we fail to get the fundamental principle that a beauty parlour is not about the equipment. It is about knowledge, and how to use it to improve the human environment. What better teacher to cascade these knowledge to Nigerian women than the First Lady herself?
By Greg Odogwu
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