IBINABO Fiberesima has come a long way. The ex-beauty queen, former niteclub owner and erstwhile singer opened up to us recently.
What has been happening to Ibinabo?
Ibinabo has been very quiet, has been working very hard, very focused.
What are you doing now?
Apart from acting, which I have come back to full time, I am into beauty pageants. I am trying to organize Miss Africa, but while doing that I am still on Miss Earth Nigeria beauty pageant. We had a mini pageant, it wasn’t very large. We just called in some models, we got Emma and she just came back from the United Kingdom. She went for the world finals, we were all there actually.
Why beauty pageants? Is it because you were once a beauty queen?
Probably. I have a flair for it. The concept of Miss Earth is different. It is not all about beauty anymore. It is about what you can do to save mother earth, which makes it more interesting.
That is a contrast?
It is and that is why I like it. I am always contrasting everything, aren’t I? It is a different pageant entirely. The girls are there on orientation camp, they are planting trees, cleaning gutters. It is fun and hard work put together. But then you see pretty girls after they have done it all climb the stage and look elegant.
Is it a Nigerian thing?
No. It is in Philippines. This year, there are 74 countries that took part, it is a big thing. I am the national director in Nigeria.
What else do you do to make money? Does it bring money?
Why did you step aside before?
I didn’t step aside really. I had my first baby and the second one. I just tried to spend time with them. It was just to bond with my kids.
How have you been coping as a mother?
It’s been wonderful. My kids are wonderful. I have been coping very well.
Where are they now?
They are in London.
And you are in Nigeria?
I go every month. I come in at the beginning of the month, I go at the end.
Who takes care of them when you are not there?
How old are they?
Seven and three. Sean and Craig.
What happened to your marriage to Phillip Trimnnel?
I really don’t want to talk about it. It is a phase in my life that has passed, so it is gone. Life goes on. I have moved on.
Are you in another relationship?
No, not now.
I don’t have time and this time I want to be sure of what I am getting into again. Because like they say, celebrity marriages never work. I don’t think that is true because apart from me being a full-time mother to my kids and to my friends, I think I can hold a relationship. So, I want to take my time this time around.
What do you think went wrong?
I don’t know. Everything was wrong. I thank God.
Do you have any regrets?
No, I don’t. From that relationship, I have a beautiful baby who I adore and he adores me.
Is he playing his role as the father?
Oh, yes. Most definitely. I have no problems with him.
Are you still friends?
We will be forever. I have his child.
You used to have a niteclub, tell us what happened to it?
I did. It was fun. Like I said, I wasn’t prepared for a lot of things. I started off very early. So, a lot of people think I am that old. I really am not. Now that I am hanging out with my peers, I realized I have gone so far ahead of them. So, I am now trying to go down and take it one at a time. And that is what happened. I was just not matured enough for a lot of things that happened. But I am now. I am fully focused and I am hanging around my peers. I am not going out with anybody older than me. It is hard because I am really not used to that kind of life but I am fitting in.
Knowing my kids are doing very well, having a date with my friends.
Male or female?
I think I have more male friends than female friends.
Why is that? Are you a tomboy?
I could be. Because hanging out with the girls sometimes brings jealousy, gossip. I can’t stand any of that. I don’t like this and I move on. When you don’t like something and you keep it then you have a problem.
You have been able to keep a nice shape after two kids, how did you achieve that?
I don’t know. Thank God I have just been lucky. God even knows I need to marry, and because I have two kids doesn’t make me less a woman. I am still who I am, just that I have more responsibilities now and I will still get married. I will still find that man one day.
What steps are you taking towards that?
I am not taking any step o. I pray. I really don’t have time for myself not to talk of a man. I need somebody in life but I don’t have a relationship right now. I have friends but nothing personal –that is just on the open.
What do you do for leisure?
I sing. All kinds of music at the karaoke bar. All kinds of music. It keeps me together.
People see you as a wild, carefree person. What do you have to say to that?
I am not wild. Carefree, yes. I don’t know how to be wild.
Where did that come from?
I don’t know, maybe when I was running the club. In fact, some people see me as arrogant. Like people I meet sometimes say they don’t see me like that but one day things will be different. I can’t reach everybody but the few I meet, they make my day.
You are calmer now, is there a man hiding somewhere?
There is nothing, just me. I am not that kind of person that gives up. When things go bad I try to be stronger to do the next thing and when I get into it, nobody can pull me back. Like I have been trying to hold Miss Africa, I wanted to do it this year but sponsorship has been so hard. I am still going to hold it because more countries are calling me, e-mails, trying to be part of it. I have been to two international shows so far. Japan and Miss Earth in the Philippines. In each of this pageants there are Africans and while going around, I have been to some countries and seen their queens. Waoh, I can’t believe how fine those girls can be. But they can’t come out because they can’t afford it. So, I want a situation where they will all come to Nigeria, instead of flying out there.
Don’t you think we have enough beauty pageants already?
I don’t know about that. I can only identify with Miss Nigeria, MBGN, Miss Commonwealth and Miss Tourism. But these are all local pageants. I am doing an international pageant.
How do you go about it? Is it a one-man show?
No. We have quite a number of people working with us. Right now, I am working with Zeb Ejiro Productions.
Talking about you, are you a designer freak?
No. I have one girl that makes my clothes. I love African fabrics. I have suddenly decided to go that way. Once in a while you see me wearing jeans and hot pants. I am not a designer person.
What is that thing that you cannot help but buy?
Evening gowns. I just pick what I like. I am a shoe freak once it is high.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2004