For the first time in the Miss Africa USA Scholarship Pageant 5 year history, the Platform presentation night became a separate event from the main pageant night competition. Reason being that the platform segment is one of the most important segments of the competition which deals with the humanitarian and public speaking aspects. In this segment, contestants are judged on public speaking skills, poise, confidence and micro project presentation.
At the VIP Banquet, the delegates are given the opportunity to talk about their projects to benefit a community in need and what they can do or are doing to make it a reality. 32 amazing, ambitious and intelligent young women of African heritage took to the stage to tell their stories to a very attentive audience of Ambassadors, Politicians, Royalties and Very Important Personalities who packed the elegant banquet room at the University of Maryland Marriott Conference Center in Hyattsville Md.
Miss Fifi Soumah who won the pageant speaks passionately about her dreams for Africa, raising awareness and campaigning against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. She is the first beauty Queen to tackle a women’s rights issue such as FGM. She also speaks about her passion to see many more young African girls gain an education especially young girls in her country of origin Guinea where the literacy rate of young girls is extremely low. Fifi a full time student at Montgomery College in Maryland promises to empower women through education.
Miss Angela Wambui is a full time student in Seatle Washington, a strong Pan-Africanist and a true believer in development through empowerment. Angela is a Kenyan American who came to the pageant with lots of positive attitude, energy and attributes. She presented herself in her Kenyan regalia at various competition segments and really wanted to bring out that intrinsic and unique beauty of Africa. Angela speaks to the listening Audience at the Banquet about her global campaign that will transform the image of hopelessness in the 21st century Africa to one of empowerment through the provision of educational opportunities. Angela believes Africa is beautiful and that is her message to the world. She finished off the pageant winning the Miss Culture Award. Through Angela, we all witnessed Kenyan beauty through fashion, talent and other presentations. It was quite interesting to watch her bring out the beauty of Kenya at the 2010 Miss Africa USA Pageant.
Miss Natasha Beckley pictured above hails from Sierra Leone, a great public speaker, a writer and poet who boasts of several pageant titles in her keeping spoke passionately about her humanitarian platform called Sisters Helping Sisters. Her presentation involved promotional items like T-Shirts she designed to promote her program, helping women in Sierra Leone, she also presented a nice little backpack of female hygiene items which she has started distributing to adolescent girls in schools in Sierra Leone. The idea is to teach girls about female hygiene and also provide basic necessities such as deodorants and other hygiene products for women. She is also working on Scholarships for young girls from deprived communities so they can also have the opportunity to go to school and gain an education. Miss Natasha finished the pageant in 2nd position as the Deputy Miss Africa USA also known as the First Princess. Should the Queen become incapable of completing her reign for one reason or the other, Miss Natasha Beckley will automatically assume her position.
Meet Miss Priscilla Boateng who hails from Ghana in West Africa. Miss Priscilla displayed her eloquence and elegance at the pageant finishing off in 3rd Place as 2nd Princess. She is full of charm, charisma and confidence and that is exactly what she brought to the table at the competition. In great spirits, she thrilled the audience with her presentation on her project which involves technology transfer to schools she has adopted in her native Ghana. Her program involves partnering a school in the United States with one in Ghana providing Information Technology training to students emphasizing the importance of IT in the world today. Miss Boateng hopes moves like this one will help to alleviate poverty in the long run. She promised to complete her project whether or not she is crowned Queen and that is just what she is doing.
Meet Miss Gnima Diop from Senegal, Gnima is a great spokes Model and the Judges deemed it fit to award her the Miss Africa USA Spokes Model Title. Miss Gnima who is a full time student at Kennesaw State University in Georgia spoke passionately about her platform ‘Stand Up For Africa. Her project involves several ways she would like to inspire young generations of Africans at home and diaspora to become more actively involved in the development of Africa and their communities abroad. Miss Gnima won the Spokes Model Award for 2010 and is proudly using her title as a motivational speaker and she is one to recorn with.
Miss Roseline Amusu hails from the country known as the giant of Africa, Nigeria, a full time student in a New York College, Miss Amusu’s passion and heart lies with the children who are victims of child slavery. Roseline who has great pageant experience behind her from her days in the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant and representing Nigeria in the Miss Universe pageant, spoke eloquently at the banquet, highlighting one of the cruelest crimes against humanity, that of child slavery. Herself a victim of child slavery who now finds herself in a very privileged position in the United States, has so much concern and is doing something to raise awareness about this problem. She is actively seeking ways to help children and provide them with a secure environment where they can be free to grow up as children away from abuse. Roseline launched the ‘Break Free Foundation’ to do just that. Roseline finished the pageant competition in 5th place also known as 4th Princess and promises to continue her campaign against Child Slavery.
Miss Tronella Nagadya hails from the beautiful country of Uganda also known as the Pearl of Africa. Tronella is also a full time student with a strong passion for youth Empowerment. Though her speech got interrupted by some technical difficulties she remained cool, calm and collected until it was conducive to continue speaking. With grace and poise, she delivered her message of youth empowerment for development.
Meet Miss Miracle Edison who made it to the top 15 at the pageant this year, representing the beautiful country of Cameroon. Miracle is a full time student in Texas and a strong advocate for women’s rights. Miracle tells the listening audience about her campaign to stop the pounding of the breast of young women as the reach puberty as a way of preventing childhood pregnancy or rape. A practices perpetrated by women against young girls in the hope of protecting them from advancing males, this practice is harmful and causes long term physical and psychological damage to the girls. Miracle has launched her campaign in Cameroon and is already effecting change. She promises to fight on and ensure this practice is outlawed in Cameroon.
Here is Miss Khadija Uwimana who is relatively very new to the United States. Coming from a country ripped apart by genocide in a bitter civil war that left almost every child orphaned, herself a surviver of the war in Rwanda with some disturbing experiences and stories to tell, Miss Khadijah who is an orphan, came to the pageant to tell her story to the world. Though she is still learning the English language, she was able to express herself to the understanding of her audience who were so amazed by her courage and difficult past. Her passion is to help those orphans left behind in Rwanda who still need a lot of help. She was lucky to have been adopted by an American family and is now pursuing higher education in Texas, her plan is to go back to Rwanda with help from her community in Texas to deliver and support orphans. Miss Khadija has a very supportive community around her in Texas and she is working on publishing her book, detailing her story as a Rwandan Refugee.
Meet Mameisia Mimi Kabia who hails from the beautiful country of Sierra Leone. She is a full time college student whose passion is to save lives, save the thousands and thousands of women, babies and children who die due to lack of proper maternity and childbirth facilities in Sierra Leone. Mamiesia has launched a strong campaign to raise awareness on the high infant mortality rate and very poor mother and child health care in the country. Mamiesia finished the pageant experience and placed in the top 15 of the competition. She promises to keep her campaign going strong.
The list goes on with all 32 finalists who made it to the pageant this year. Each delegate represents the true face of Africa in America, women rising up from their difficult and challenging past, some apart from their families and loved ones, all in search for a better life not only for themselves but for their communities. Women who are truely beautiful inside out, great leaders of the future. One thing is certain, that these young women growing up in the United States today have learned the American spirit of giving back, using their privileged positions in America to advocate for those less fortunate. In a post pageant survey conducted by the pageant management this year, 71% of the finalists say they will continue working on their various humanitarian projects with or without the crown and will continue to volunteer for America thereby helping their communities in Africa and North America.