Miss Africa International Pageant 2003

On a cool Autumn night, in the heart of Washington, the final contestants to the Miss Africa title converged at the newly completed Washington Convention Center. Parking was full, traffic was heavy and security was tight, but the mood was energized this Saturday night. Several types had showed up: Fashion designers, critics, embassy representatives, news reporters, lobbyists, Statesmen and the Washington elite. These high profilers didn't make entry easy for the ordinary specatator.
The pageant basically is sponsored by Miss Africa International Organization with joint support from well-wishers and media consortium. Their official site has more info, but they only have small closeup mugshots of the contestants. The three areas of judging for this year's theme were Beauty, Brains and Culture. Each of the final qualifiers had to sufficiently demonstrate to a panel of judges their ability to possess the above talents.

As a result of the often pseudo-African contests, the event was carefully named Miss Africa International to make it clear of its cosmopolitan and Pan-African nature. The entry requirements were also strict and purposely set high to increase the level of candidates. First in order to meet the criteria, each candidate had to be either born in Africa or be a direct African descendant no more than 1 generation away. So one's claim could not go beyond parents. One contestant told us she actually had to bring in her passport. Then the typical swimsuit contest was done away and a more Africanized edition of native-wear introduced. To ensure intelligence, critical uncensored thinking was encouraged and cultural identity was reinforced with traditional background music and sayings.

Generally the event was very Africanized- from the use of African time right to the selection or election-like process. It seemed more of an Apollo-style judgement at the end- with the audiences' popular candidates getting the most scores. The largest group of nationals were the Nigerians who made their presence very known. And just like the typical African elections, you couldn't help sense that there was more at play than just what you saw. Despite the few timing and light control flaws, the audience -especially fellas were thrilled by the high-calibre contestants who persuasively attempted to seduce their minds and hearts with their charm. In the end, each area was tested. Those who were intellectual, got a dose of words from the likes of Miss Burundi, the culturally attuned had a chance to critique them all during traditional dance and talent time, while those who were after pure raw African-defined beauty were delighted at these girls shaking their thing like some Lingala video enticement. Not that this was the only form of beauty. Actually the event undisputably catered to all three types. The GQ, Mercedes driving professional type had his fill watching the evening gown parade and the contestants in classy, dress outfits; The more academic ones were given some critical points to analyze from some candidates and had the opportunity to see mental skill and intellectual finesse during Q and A session; On the other hand, those traditional types attracted to the primitive, raw beauty form of the woman bare-foot and near naked got a chance to behold theirs too. So in all, you came out feeling satisfied with the variety of views without them compromising the authenticity of the show. Unlike mainstream shows often seen here, none of the contestants acts were censored. After all, that would be defeating the purpose if the African style was watered-down to fit the conventional norms and boy did they take advantage of that.
As for the winner, that was an entirely different affair. You may want to think of the show as a means in itself. Below is a walkthrough of the event you will probably see soon on some filtered TV broadcast near you.
If you feel strongly about a contestant, you could participate in the unofficial vote at the end.
Please note that the images below are purely for scholastic purposes. The event coverage footage and photographic rights were all reserved and exclusively purchased by the respective media dealers. By accessing the images you agree not to distribute, copy, alter or resell them.

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