22-year-old Tosin Adeduro is the 10th Miss Tourism Nigeria. The Beauty Queen represented Nigeria at the Miss Tourism World in Vietnam in December 2022 and was the only African to come into the top five, alongside Russia, Japan, Philippines and Vietnam. Very excited about what the future holds with her as the new Miss Tourism title, Tosin Adeduro, who hails from Ondo State and currently a final year student at the University of Ilorin, studying Social Science Education, believes being herself worked the miracle for her and earned her the nickname ‘Black Barbie’. In this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, the beauty queen, who recently returned to Nigeria, speaks about her experiences in far away Vietnam, her dreams and her plans for the industry.
You represented Nigeria in Miss Tourism World 2022 in Vietnam. What were the highlights of your experiences?
The experience was more fun because it was my first time going to Vietnam, which is in South Asia. At first, I thought it was going to be very stressful, only for me to get there and it turned out that they are more accommodating and hospitable.
Their hospitality is topnotch, and the economic system is very friendly and very heartwarming. So, the experience for me was not so intense because it was like I was just on a vacation. Meanwhile, I was in a contest representing my country but it felt like I was on vacation, and fortunately, it worked in my favour.
How long did you stay in Vietnam for the competition?
I stayed for one month.
The competition lasted for almost a month before the finale. At first, there were a 20 days tour around the various provinces of Vietnam, before the finale. What most people know about Beauty contest is usually the finale but in pageantry, it is not all about the finale.
The finale is more about stage performances like showcasing talents, answering questions, and your public speaking skills but that is not all that there is to pageantry. Pageantry starts from camp secession, from the first day you arrive in camp, the activities you do, the places you visit, how you relate with your pageant sisters, how accommodating you are, and how sweet and loving you are to other people. So, those are some of the things that the judges put together and then give the contestants a score. It is not only limited to the finale.
The finale is only to entertain the guest, but it also gives the guest a glimpse into the world of the contest and the contestants. It’s like performing arts or theatre arts.
After a series of long rehearsals, the guest gets to see the play.
You said you spent most of the time in Vietnam touring around the provinces, tell us about the tours?
We had a 20-day tour of Hanoi and the northern provinces of Ninh Binh, Phu Tho, Son La, and Vinh Phuc to explore the cultural heritage of Vietnam.
We went to some outstanding destinations in Vietnam, which included Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel, Bat Trang pottery village in Hanoi; the Trang An Landscape Complex, Hoa Lu ancient capital, and Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh; the Hung Kings Temple Complex in Phu Tho; Moc Chau Plateau, the hot spring of Moong village, Dai Yem Waterfall, and Pa Uon Bridge in Son La; and the Tay Thien landscape complex and Tam Dao tourism zone in Vinh Phuc. It was exceedingly exciting.
With so much traveling and touring in Vietnam, and for a first-time visitor, how were you able to adapt to the weather condition?
The weather condition is very different from that of Nigeria. When it comes to the time difference, it is six hours different from ours here in Nigeria and at first, that was challenging for me. I initially thought that the weather would not be easy for me, not until I went to different provinces. It was actually freezing. There were times when we were at .09 degrees. I had to wear a top, a jacket, another top, a sweatshirt, and a coat, with gloves and I ensured that I was well covered.
That was the only way I could even feel a little bit warm, because it was freezing. I think it differs because some provinces were a bit warm. But generally, every part of Vietnam was cold. There is a particular province we visited where they don’t use Air Conditioner. They only use the heater.
There were over 35 contestants and we saw that you won the hearts of other competitors from other parts of the world, and in no time you began teaching them Yoruba. Have they always wanted to learn or it was something you introduced?
Well, first of all, I think the essence of the entire tourism is to learn. Staying around the other contestants from other parts of the world, there is definitely something to learn. They taught me their language, and like most of my friends in Japan, the Philippines taught me how to greet them in their language. Then I was blending with other cultures, which is the essence of tourism.
However, what got them interested in Nigeria was the national costume I took with me. It represented the Yemoja culture in Yoruba tradition.
What is the story behind the Yemoja? In Yoruba tradition, Yemoja is a de-
ity, water goddess. So, that was where their interest in the Yoruba language came from and there was also a time I tied a Yoruba scarf, which drew more interest to the Nigerian Culture.
While you were representing Nigeria in Vietnam, were there wrong assumptions other people from other countries had about Nigerians?
When I got to Vietnam, I realized that it’s not a country that is as popular as Canada, Britain or America, and the rest, but then Vietnam is a 21-hour trip by air, farther than the USA. However, getting to Vietnam, I realized that they didn’t really know much about Nigeria. So, there were no assumptions. But I am glad they were able to experience what a Nigerian person is like and they came to understand that we are fun loving people and as they would say, we are full of energy.
Did you notice any similarities between Nigeria and Vietnam?
One thing that is similar between Nigeria and Vietnam is the love for culture. They don’t joke about festivals, dances, and traditions but they are keen on their culture.
Is there a rave of Nigerian music in Vietnam as there is in other parts of the world?
They don’t know so much about Nigerian music but they know about ‘Calm Down’, Selena Gomez and Rema, and Burna Boy songs.
Did it ever come to your mind that you would make it to the top five in the Miss Tourism World competition?
To be very honest, leaving the country, I left with the mindset of winning. Like I told my team that I was not going there to participate, that’s what a lot of pageantry contestants go out for, just to participate.
For me, it was more than that. I actually wanted to win and I am so glad that I did come into top five. That was a win for me because the top five winners are the ones the organisation deals with.
They are the people going on tours for organisations, traveling the world, from Africa to Europe, to Asia and other parts of the world. So, immediately I got to the top five, I knew this was it. For me, anything that happened at this point is a win.
You must have made your team very proud, right?
It gladdens my heart to see them so excited and to be honest, having to win on a big platform such as that and having my directors with me in Vietnam was one of the most amazing moments of my life.
Was there a time you felt intimidated by other contestants from other countries?
To a great extent, I felt I was fortunate because getting there, no one intimidated me or treated me with prejudices. In fact, I was given the nickname “Black Barbie”. So, I felt really loved and welcomed, and during the pageantry, it was more like a family affair than a competition.
Although at a point, it got intense. I already understood that it would get to that point. I knew everyone is going to be cranky because everyone wants to put in their best and all of that. I don’t think I was discriminated a g a i n s t because I was not the only African t h e r e . We had Nigeria, Ghana, C a m – eroon, Rwand a , Ugand a , South Africa, and other Africa countries.
Were you the only African in the top five?
Yes, I was the only African in the top five. Other countries were Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Russia.
So now that you are back, what next?
We are touring four different continents- Asia, Africa, America and Europeall in 2023.
How fortunate would you rate yourself? There are a lot of young Nigerian girls that are dreaming to be where you are. What will you advise them to do?
First thing first. I will never change my personality for anything less. Staying true to myself has brought me this far. One thing I also believe in is that everything comes together for good. So, I w o u l d a d v i s e y o u n g girls to always s t a y t r u e t o themselves a n d a lwa y s remember that their dreams are always valid. It’s a matter of time but you will get there eventually.
You’re studying Social Science Education. What do you intend to do with the certificate?
When I tell people that I am studying social science education, the first question they ask me is “ Do you want to be a teacher?”, and my response would always be, “I have always been a teacher.” Teaching doesn’t start and end in the classroom.
I believe that with the things I have been doing, I have been able to mentor other young girls and I believe that is also an atom of teaching. But with my certificate, I would love to work in the Ministry of Education to improve the system of education in the county.
What would your upcoming pet projects be focused on?
My pet project is more focused on tourism in Government Secondary Schools. There are a lot of secondary school students who do not know what excursion is all about. Sometimes, they need to experience their environment.
This is something they would never forget. Most times, what you teach them in class, they would forget, but those things they see for themselves, they would never forget. Also, I am planning to work in the pageant industry, helping prepare young ladies, who want to go on international trips and pageantry.
Most times, we see beauty queens venture into other career paths like acting or music. Would you be touring that path soon? I am a lover of music but I can’t sing to save my life and I am more talented in acting. For me, acting is like a hobby. It is something I don’t have to force it.
Have you been featured in any movies in time past?
No, what I have done is just stage plays. Would you want to feature in movies anytime soon? Very soon, we would see. Let’s not let the cat out of the bag yet.
What other career goals did you have growing up?
Well, growing up, I wanted to be a journalist. I have always loved news casting, public speaking and presentations but in University, I didn’t get my Mass Communication but as God would have it, I got education. That is why I said that everything works for my good all the time. I didn’t get what I wanted but God said education is was actually what I needed.