With a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from the European University in Cyprus and a Masters in Corporate Communication from the well regarded Leeds University in the UK, she came back to Nigeria with the mindset to be an events planner. But there was nobody to hire her in spite of her Diploma in Events Management from Institute of Commercial Management also in the UK. Then she considered being hired by a Public Relations firm. That, too, was not too available. Instead, she got employment in the public relations section of a government owned company but where, for a year and more, she was basically doing nothing. “I wasn’t mentally challenged there for sure and after two years, I decided it just wasn’t for me”.
So, she left the job even when she was not quite sure of what next. With encouragement from the family and the creative seizure going on in her head, the die was cast for a hair styling career. Three years down the line, she is stepping out with Hairstravaganza on December 16th, 2018. What is Hairstravaganza all about, Intervention asked her in a snappy chat? Elaipu says the show is to create an avenue for hair stylists to show their talents and to push themselves beyond the confines of the beauty parlour. It is still a different entry point in the hair business clime in Nigeria, she says, although there is no evidence right now how profitable it would be. Her business intelligence indicates to her that it would be profitable. She is keeping the details of that as her business secrets for now.
It is interesting that she taught herself everything she knows about hair and hair styling. She can say that she has reached a level where she would want others to join in pushing themselves further so that, together, they can create something uniquely Nigerian. By ‘they’, she is referring to all stakeholders in the beauty industry – hair stylists, make-up artists, beauty specialists, hair companies, hair product companies and, of course, the media, the chief story teller of the 21st century. In her own words, “the idea is to create a community of hair stylists and beauty specialists to support as well as challenge each other outside their comfort zone. That way, they will also be able to acknowledge achievement and reward talent”.
The choice of December 16th, 2018 is deliberate. Again, in her own words, “it is a good time to get people to come out and watch something memorable to end the year with”. In other words, she and her planners took the holiday season into consideration. They have been talking to a lot of people, they are still doing that in terms of the audience that day and in terms of core participants. All she knows is that this is success guaranteed already.
It is difficult to engage Elaipu on this project without concluding that this is not another shallow show anchored on no philosophy. Rather, there is education/culture, class and style in Hairstravaganza, the conceptual signifier for Ela’s Weave Emporium’s sophistication, Ela’s Weave Emporium being the name of her saloon.
Articulate and sober, Miss Elaipu Isawa Elaigwu is generally a pleasure to listen to in discussing her line of business. It can hardly be otherwise for someone who confesses to being easily bored with the regular and predictable, indicating how her education must have triggered her own share of the creative impulse in a world of images. The 21st century is a world of images, dealing such a blow on the distinction between the original and the duplicate. From bio-medicine to geo-engineering to biopolitics to geopolitics, it is truly ‘a world of our own making’.
Bio-politics is the concept for how this constructivist praxis works out in the social world and by which is meant the process by which governments control or coordinate, (if you prefer that) free human beings (unlike slaves) by reading the human person as a text which could be written and re-written. With the exception of Africa due to the legacy of colonialism, the subsequent crudity of the postcolonial state and cultural distortion arising therefrom across the continent, that is what all governments exist to do through what is known as governmentality. Perhaps there is no accepted term yet for when it is operationalised by creative artists but it is they who are producing the models, stars, celebrities, style icons, great movies and inspirational speakers now exercising tremendous powers all over the world even though no one elected them.
Nigeria today is rampaging through Africa and other parts of the world not as much due to her formal diplomacy as much as due to recent cultural innovations in music, the home video industry and newer television channels. Still substantially hooked to formal geopolitics of military hardware, Nigeria is yet to take advantage of this cultural explosion at home in any systematic manner. While Nigeria waits to learn the strategy of geo-power, the message here is that there can be no fiddling with an Elaipu Isawa Elaigwu.