Miss Africa 2016 calls on young people to build a better continent

6 May 2016

Rebecca Asamoah, the first Miss Africa Continent, has high hopes for the continent. She believes cooperation between her and the other contestants will help create a united Africa. One that can deliver a better life for all who call it home.

Rebecca 
 Asamoah Miss Africa Continent Ghanaian Rebecca Asamoah is Miss Africa Continent 2016. Her prize was a grant to study business management at Monash University in Johannesburg. (Image: Facebook)

Ghanaian Asamoah was crowned on Saturday 30 April in Johannesburg. Zambian Michelo Malambo was named first princess, and South Africa’s Jemimah Kandemiiri second princess.

Asamoah wants each of the contestants to empower youth in their own countries. “There are a lot of things to be fixed in Africa — water, education, environmental issues,” she told the news agency AFP. “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.”

“We are not divided”

Asamoah says her aim is to unite the continent. “To say no to xenophobia, and also to alleviate most challenges Africa is facing under health, education, poverty and environment. These are things I am passionate about. I plan to help raise not only the flag of Ghana high, but that of the African continent at large.”

The 24-year-old Asamoah told local news channel ANN7 that it was not our differences that mattered. Instead she emphasised that we have a collective responsibility to Africa. “It does not mean we are different people. We are not divided . We are each other’s keeper.”

Asamoah said her two princesses would visit projects in Ghana that supported the aged and the combating of diseases such as malaria.

“There is a place called Leila and Nabuli camp for the aged, up in the northern part of Ghana. There is this misconception about them, that they are alleged witches. So they have been neglected. No proper food, clothes, footwear and potable water. Under the Miss Ghana foundation we visit them every year to interact with them and also mentor them on personal hygiene before some donations are made to them. This year, by the grace of God, the borehole is under construction to create potable water for them.”

The pageant

The Miss Africa Continent pageant is the brainchild of South African film producer Neo Mashishi, who said it was about uplifting young African women. To make the pageant African, the finalists walked barefoot on stage – in their traditional clothes. The swimwear category was dropped; instead, finalists wore a uniform of black T-shirts and shorts.

Mashishi told AFP that they did this to go against the norm of Westernised pageants. “The way everything was done was African. We didn’t emulate anything from Miss Universe or Miss World. This is about Africa. We are selling Africa to the world, and we are proud to be African.”

According to the Guardian, during the weeks running up to the event, the 12 finalists embarked on a series of pre-pageant activities such as showing off their culinary skills by cooking traditional meals from their home countries.

Watch highlights of the pageant:

Second princess, South Africa’s Jemimah Kandemiiri, is a law student at the University of Pretoria. She said the pageant taught her that the best gift to yourself is to be you. “With the pressure that comes from the modelling industry and the so called ‘need to be perfect,’ it will consume you.

“I learned that we are all from different parts of Africa, very similar in almost everything, but we seldom expose that which makes us authentic. I always say, be you, no-one can do you better than you. When you’re yourself, you will attract things that are like you.”