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2013-06-29 19.17.34 2013-06-29 22.59.26

This post sets the stage for a 2nd post on the Miss Africa Contestants, so read part II tomorrow to see who was crowned the queen.  There was alot going on while the contestants were changing costumes, I cover that below.

My attendance at Saturday’s Miss Africa USA was a $30 incredibly well spent (and not just because it took 6 hours to crown a queen).  It was my first attendance at a major African cultural event since my very first post on the Liberian Entertainment Awards.  I not only got to see attractive African women on stage and in the audience (and a female Ghanaian King), I was treated to a concert, spoken word poetry, a fashion show, and dance.  Many of the contestants were oozing with a passion for Africa, and although Farai Gundun was a judge (joined by a representative from the Embassy of Botswana and the Nigerian airline, Arik Air, amongst others) the evening was definitely more about culture and having a good time than in being ostentatious.

The only thing that somewhat dampened my enthusiasm was the lack of racial diversity.  Many of the contestants had very vocal supporters who traveled from states far away to cheer on their friends.  I spoke to several, while many of the friends of the contestants were African, there were also many from the diaspora.  There did not however, seem to have many friends of other ethnicities supporting them.

The African – American connections at the event were significant.  One of the two emcees of the evening was Miss Kimberly Brown, a former Miss Black Alabama who is currently a PhD student at Howard (history – she brings the sexy teacher thing to a whole new level) and a Fellow at one of the Smithsonian Museums.

Hope Sullivan Masters spoke, and apparently the Sullivan Foundation is getting back on its feet.  Their next big campaign will be to encourage corporate responsibility and Americans (particularly African – Americans) to buy African products.  She added that if companies ‘want access to what’s under the ground, they have to respect what walks above the ground.’  Given her support for Equatorial Guinea, this maxim apparently does not also apply to African governments.  I was also a bit turned off by her pledge to ship things like smartphones and books to Africa.

Ms. Masters celebrated her Nigerian roots, which she discovered through DNA testing, and the President of AfricanAncestry.com.  The President of the organization was also on hand and received an award celebrating her work.  I do have to ask myself – how is it that the roots of black Americans can be primarily traced to one place of origin in Africa?

A mini-concert was offered by the hip-pop duo, Dreamz 2 Dinero, who were way better than stellar.  I spoke very briefly to the female component of the duo, Nia Dinero, who seemed very down to earth and really cool.

Dreamz 2 Dinero

Dreamz 2 Dinero

The most downbeat part of the night came from Nigeria and specifically the government of Cross Rivers State, which is a sponsor of Miss Africa USA.  The wife of the State Governor had written a very lengthy and long winded speech which was delivered through a representative.  A tourism/promotional video (which was very nicely done) was screened as well.  The Queen of Cross Rivers State was also on hand and delivered much more concise remarks about her work to empower young women and discourage the abandonment of babies.  Other African queens on hand included the current Miss Ethiopia and a former Miss Botswana.

From L - R: Miss Cross Rivers State, Miss Ethiopia, and Kimberly Brown, the MC

From L – R: Miss Cross Rivers State, Miss Ethiopia, and Kimberly Brown, the MC