Beauty pageants can be controversial events, but they have many benefits, says organiser Kofi Osei Bonsu, who will host the capital’s maiden Miss Africa Canberra competition on 29 September.
“The true aim of Miss Africa is to celebrate the cultural diversity of the capital and bring the African community together around a fun event,” says Kofi. “As a new, non-profit pageant, we promote youth empowerment through entertainment and entrepreneurial education.”
Ten contestants will participate, varying in age from 17 to 25, with all born here or having moved here as children.
“Even though they’ve loved growing up in Australia and call Canberra home, the contestants still have roots to Africa through their parents and other relatives,” says Kofi. “This is an opportunity to re-connect to their family’s culture, and be part of a showcase of the rich traditions of Africa – style, culture and talent.”
As with most beauty pageants, contestants will be judged on more than their pretty faces. They’ll have to demonstrate, in front of a panel of Canberra judges, their personality, emotional control, speech and presentation abilities.
A beauty pageant wouldn’t be a beauty pageant without the contestants modelling. Miss Africa Canberra 2018 contestants will model casual wear and evening wear. Instead of skimpy swimwear or lingerie they’ll model traditional dress. Contestants will also perform a short talent act and answer thought-provoking questions such as how they will use their title to empower the community and what they’ll do to empower young women.
“Some people see events like this, and modelling in general, as superficial but the total opposite is true,” says Tina. “Miss Africa will challenge these female contestants to not just look at their outer beauty but to look at their inner beauty. You have to dig deep from within to gain the confidence to walk and stand in front of a crowd. It’s a great life skill.”
“They’re a real confidence builder,” says Andrea, “and they provide contestants with experience in presenting themselves in front of a judging panel and an audience. Beauty pageant contestants must be articulate and think on their feet. They must have passion for a cause and the skills to be an ambassador for that cause.”
Other judges include Christos Kyrgios (Director of Oasis Health Club and tennis player Nick’s brother), Canberra commentator Tim Gavel (formerly ABC Grandstand and now a Contributing Editor at The RiotACT) and Francis Owusu, Director of Kulture Break, who won the 2013 Australian of the Year ACT Local Hero Award.
Kofi works diligently for the African community. He and his team organised Canberra’s first Africa Party in the Park, held in April in Lennox Gardens. And Kofi is part of the African-Australian Awards committee here.