The Africa beauty pageant 2016 which ended on April 30 has crown Miss Ghana, Rebecca Asamoah, as the first ever Miss Africa Continent in Johannersburg, South Africa.
For the first time Africa conducted a beauty pageant hallmarked with everything Africa — barefoot, traditional costumes including animal hide skirts and elaborated beaded headdresses.
There were originally a list of 40 contestants from across Africa, including Nigeria. The 24-year-old dental hygienist beat 11 finalists in the inaugural pageant at Johannesburg’s Gold Reef City casino on Saturday night. Second runner-up was Michelo Malambo of Zambia, while South Africa’s Jemimah Kandimiri was placed third.
A departure from the beauty contest norm had the contestants adorned with black t-shirts and tight shorts while dancing barefoot to the “Africa” music by Mali’s legendary afro-pop musician Salif Keita.
The pageant is the brain child of South African film producer Neo Mashishi, who says it aims to empower young African women. According to AFP, Mashishi said it had been five years in the making. He said:
“This is the first ever Miss Africa Continent. This is about Africa, we are selling Africa to the world, and we are proud to be Africa.”
“The way everything was done was African, we didn’t emulate anything from Miss Universe, or Miss World,”
Asamoah, who wore braids, entered the stage in a traditional Ghanaian Ashanti gold-coloured beaded crown and then returned to stage in a evening dress made from the country’s trademark Kente cloth.
As grand price for a well deserved winner, Asmoah walk away with a grant to study business management at Monash University in Johannesburg. According to the first ever Miss Africa 2016, she wants to see young people help uplift the continent. She told AFP:
“There are a lot of things to be fixed in Africa — water, education, environmental issues.”
“My main concern is the empowerment of youths… so we can work hand in hand and put our continent in the best place it should be.”
In the weeks running up to the event, the 12 finalists embarked on a series of pre-pageant activities, including showing off their culinary skills in cooking traditional meals from their native countries.
Ultimately, the organisers hope to involve the continental body, the African Union, “so our winner can play a role in uplifting Africa” and spearhead campaigns to fight Africa’s woes such as malaria, poverty and xenophobia.