Adetetu OJ Alabi is a Nigerian model, anti-bully activist, tambour beading artist, social entrepreneur and advocate for beauty tribal marks and indigenous body modifications.
She is using social media to create awareness and change the tale of people with tribal marking in Africa. The beautiful model recently caught the attention of International Music star Rihanna after started a campaign called #tribalmarkschallenge, to encourage Africans with tribal marks and also advocate for the ban of facial scarring. Tutu believes permission should be sought before it is carried out
“I started modelling last year after I came out from my shell or hiding due to my tribal marks. The bullying started in my primary and secondary school days. Due to this, I learnt a skill instead of going to university” says the beautiful mum of one whose baby daddy left after she got pregnant because of her tribal marks
She shares her story with me in this inspiring interview.
My mum died when I was four years old, so I grew up with my dad. I was brought up by my dad and he taught me to be prepared for anything life brings to me, this has been guiding principle ever since.
Effect of Tribal marks on my education
I was supposed to study law but I decided not to take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination at all because I was scared of being bullied in the university. I believed that if I attended university, I might end up killing myself, but that perception has changed now with my renewed confidence.
The Rihanna move
I have always been a fan of Rihanna since she came out and I was inspired to do the post that went viral because I also had a photo which Rihanna did the same posture for her Fenty beauty advert. It has always been my dream as a child to model with the tribal marks. I have been bullied so much and the follow back from Rihanna has helped build my confidence and others that have tribal marks too.
My Social Media Bullying experience
I have been experiencing bullying since my childhood but Social media especially Facebook opened me up to it because of my Tribal marks. Few months before my story went viral I was bullied on Facebook and became suicidal at a point but some of my Facebook friends rallied round me whenever someone talked me down.They gave me reasons to fight and stand up for myself and not give in to bullying.
#Tribalmarkschallenge and Future Plans
I started the campaign this year to advocate for people with tribal marks and It’s gone viral to my surprise and helped boost the confidence of those living with it. I have gotten testimonies from a lot of people who told me my boldness in advocating for this cause helped renewed their confidence and re-ignite their trust in humanity. People are talking about how to conceal their marks but this is me. You can be anything you want to be. Don’t let your scars bring you down”
In 2019, I am starting another pet project to create awareness on tribal marks with major focus on rural areas in Nigeria
Apart from modeling, I am also a tambour beading artist and a traditionalist. I also have a clothing line and a shoe line though they’re still in the baby stages of start-ups.
The Adetutu OJ brand in 5 years
I see myself spreading my skills and talents all over the world along with my brand. I see myself sharing my story globally and encouraging women with tribal marks .
Being an orphan and because most of my friends are people I know online, I barely have someone to talk to whenever I feel depressed or giving up especially since I’m not earning enough yet. I was suicidal twice this in 2018 even after the story went viral and had so much media attention globally. I have thought of quitting many times but I encourage myself to look at the bright side always
Rejected by my child’s father because of my Tribal Marks
I got pregnant in 2009 after a brief relationship and told him and he absconded while I have to take care of my daughter by placing her in her orphanage then after 9 years he saw me on the internet and seek to see my daughter and claimed he couldn’t bear to tell me he couldn’t move with me because of my tribal marks. My daughter and I got help from Pastor Ituah and his foundation (Lydia Grace Foundation and Heritage Homes & Orphanage). These people helped me focus on how get ahead in life through my rejection and lonely period.
My daughter inspires me to do better and never give up. whenever I feel down. She makes me challenge myself because she is watching everything I do and because of her I have to succeed against all odds.
Reception from the Modelling Industry
The modelling industry in Nigeria have not really accepted me yet because I’m unconventional and I’m different from the regular models due to my tribal marks. I recently got featured in Davido’s new music video and I am looking forward to other opportunities in the new year. I am grateful to the founder of Isis models Africa who sees potential in me. With support from people like her and others, I believe I can go beyond the sky and achieve my dreams.
Being a woman of Rubies
What makes a woman of rubies is the fact that I refuse to give up and made lemonades from the lemonades life threw at me.
I made a name for myself with what I was being bullied for, I am a woman of Rubies and more.