New Miss Nigeria is an 18-year-old hijab-wearing Muslim

New Miss Nigeria is an 18-year-old hijab-wearing Muslim
Shatu Garko has 'broken barriers' to become the first hijab-wearing Muslim to win Miss Nigeria.
2 min read
21 December, 2021
Garko said 'to me, it doesn't mater what people think...I only believe in what I think' [Getty-file photo]

Shatu Garko has been crowned Miss Nigeria 2021, making her the first hijab-wearing Muslim to win the yearly beauty pageant. 

The 18-year-old was announced the 44th Miss Nigeria on Friday, beating 17 other contestants to earn the title of youngest-ever champion. 

She told local media that receiving the crown was a life-long ambition, stating: "The hijab is not a barrier". 

"It still feels like a dream. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love! Thank you Nigeria for your support throughout this journey, my heart is filled with gratitude," Garko wrote on Instagram Monday. 

This heartfelt message featured next to an image of her wearing a turquoise gown with a matching hijab and a '44th Miss Nigeria' sash. 

Garko said her father was initially reluctant about her entering the competition because of concerns she would have to remove her hijab. 

"He was worried about me being forced to take off my hijab, or wear a swimsuit, or just being treated differently because of the hijab," the 18-year-old told Nigeria Newspaper Punch

"My mum and I had to do an entire presentation to convince him. But after that point, I had his full support." 

Garko also told the newspaper that critics accused her of "bringing Boko Haram into the brand". Boko Haram is an extremist organisation based in northeastern Nigeria that has carried out a number of assassinations and large-scale acts of violence such as kidnapping school children. 

"I simply ignored them," the winner said. 

Garko originally comes from Kano state in northwest Nigeria, a Muslim-majority area that follows Sharia law within the legal framework of Nigeria's Constitution. 

For winning the competition, she will receive 10 million naira (£18,000) as well as advertising opportunities, a year's residency in a luxury flat, and a car.