The sight of a light-skinned huge lady fully kitted in black trousers, black boots, a white shirt and a black jacket caught the attention of many at an event that held a few months ago at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) conference centre Alausa, where she served as a bouncer.
Many got attracted to Ibikunle Olaitan Omofowowe, not only because she was cutely dressed but because she was serving in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Organizers of major events in Lagos engage services of bouncers, mostly hefty men to manage crowds and ensure security at the venue of their events. Despite the nature of the job, women are beginning to chart the waters of the male-dominated venture; no thanks to the nation’s harsh economy.
Rather than feel bad about her big body size, the 31-year-old Omofowowe took advantage of her stature to do what many women of her age will not do to eke a living.
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defined a bouncer as a person employed to stand at the entrance to an event venue to stop people who are not wanted from going in, and to throw out people who are causing trouble inside. A bouncer’s duties are to provide security, check legal age and drinking age, refuse entry for intoxicated persons, and deal with aggressive behaviour or non-compliance with statutory or established rules.
In Lagos State, bouncers mount main entrances to event halls and ensure that uninvited guests do not gain access to the hall. They are respected by most guests at events because their body size is intimidating and they are usually perceived as hard men.
Lagos State is a city full of activities as there is virtually no day that events do not hold in different venues scattered across the state.
Omofowowe, like her male counterparts, gallantly serves as a bouncer at events as she carries out all duties as the male bouncers.
The single mother of three told Daily Trust Saturday that she was introduced to bouncing by her friend who felt it was better for her than sitting idle and wallowing in all manner of thoughts.
“Becoming a bouncer was a very big task for me because I could remember when a guy made me know that I was fit to be a bouncer. He told me that his girlfriend works as a bouncer. To further boost my morale, he told me that I was more gallant than his girlfriend. So, I decided to give it a trial as he introduced me to his girlfriend who guided me on how to buy the required kits. I got exactly what she asked me to get but she blocked me shortly after I told her that I had gotten all the kits.
“I was pained by the attitude of the lady because I had used my children’s school fees to procure the kits and I was looking up to her to link me with organizations/firms that can engage me. While I was still disappointed, I met a guy who linked me up with different bouncers and that was how I started the work in January 2018.”
She admitted that her experience was not palatable initially as some employers refused to engage her for failing to have sexual intercourse with them. But while she was rejected by some employers because of their selfish interests, she was accepted and celebrated by some others.
Omofowowe also narrated how she was discouraged by many to quit the job as they felt it was not befitting for a beautiful lady like her. “I told them that it was better than prostituting. Some guys also disliked the fact that I am a single mother and a female bouncer,” she narrated.
To gain strength and keep fit, the female bouncer said she started going to the gym as she said it was important for her to be a bodybuilder as a bouncer. “The job of a bouncer in an event is to secure the event and make everything go well,” she said.
She disclosed that the least she gets paid is N7,000 per event depending on the season. She also said there are times of the year she gets a lot of work to do while there are other times she gets only a few invitations to work at events. “The job is seasonal,” she said.
Omofowowe, who once worked in a bar at Yaba before joining the bouncer team, revealed that she learnt nursing some years back but didn’t complete the training because her boss relocated back to her hometown. “I wish to continue the nursing work but I don’t have anyone to support me except God and I have kids to cater for,” she said.
Telling her story, the female bouncer disclosed that she dropped out of secondary school when she was in SS 1. “My growing up was a bit rough because I and my siblings were raised by our mum alone with no one to help her. I had wanted to be a military person but I couldn’t because there was no one to help me achieve my dream. I dropped out of school because I was raped at the age of 16 after which I got pregnant.
“The person who raped me had once asked me out, but I turned down his request. So, one day, a friend of mine asked me to visit her because she was not feeling fine. I ignorantly went to her house and on getting there, I met the guy who once asked me out. What came to my mind was that he was dating my friend, but unknown to me, they had connived against me. Suddenly, my friend excused herself and before I understood what was happening, the guy had taken advantage of me.”
When asked what punishment was meted on the rapist, she said, “Nothing was done to him because I was ashamed of telling anyone what happened to me, in fact, I couldn’t tell my mum because I was scared. When I discovered that I was pregnant, I tried to abort the pregnancy but a woman who overheard me telling someone of my plan to abort the pregnancy went ahead to inform my mother that I was pregnant.
“My mum and I went to his workplace but he denied the pregnancy even though he came back for us after I delivered the baby and we lived together for a year before he travelled back to Ibadan. While we were living together, he had always told me that he couldn’t marry me as he had someone he was dating. So, I had to let go of him after I found out that he was married before he met me and that the woman had three kids for him before he left her for Lagos.
“I found myself in another relationship. Initially, I thought the man loved me but I kept having issues with him because of my first child that was born to another man. It was a long story and a bitter one as well,” she said.
Omofowowe, who is a product of single parenting, represents the young girls in Nigeria whose dreams have been shattered as a result of being put in a family way at a very young age by some unscrupulous elements in the society.
Despite her inability to actualize her dream of becoming a military person, she has expressed a willingness to complete her nursing training and practice in that field.