Jaanna Anaemereibe and Damilola Emuze were crowned Mr. and Miss African Diaspora on Saturday in the Mr. and Miss African Diaspora Contest hosted by the African Students Association.
Formally known as the Miss Africa Mizzou pageant, this year’s event still maintained its main goal of showing the correlation between African countries and the rest of the countries in the African diaspora, said Patricia Vewenda-Mabengo, the contest’s director and coordinator.
“The contest helps to show similarities between the African cultures and to unite the different cultures,” Vewenda-Mabengo said.
This year, the contest featured eight contestants, four women and four men. The women were Damilola Emuze, Miss Nigeria; Jacoya Rivers, Miss Jamaica; Nkiruka Omeronye, Miss Nigeria; and Luam Ghirmazion, Miss Eritrea. The four men were Jaanna Anaemereibe, Mr. Nigeria; Hassan Yusuf, Mr. America; Adegbuyi Adekunle, Mr. Nigeria; and Paanii Annan, Mr. Ghana.
The preparation for the contest began in September when there was an informational meeting for those who were interested, Vewenda-Mabengo said.
Up until the time of the pageant, the contestants practiced twice a week. They had to research their platforms, work on their public speaking, field questions and practice their fashion walk. The contestants also performed community service, participated in ASA meetings and events and promoted the show on Facebook and Twitter.
“The practices were very hectic and they were very long, but it was all worth it for us to really try to perfect our craft and do our best,” Anaemereibe said. “I am thankful for the practice because not only were we able to get our platform down, but we were also able to bond and build really good friendships.”
On practice, Emuze said it was a work in progress.
“I remember that in the beginning I had no clue what I was going to present in the contest, but with time I was able to write a solid and honest platform,” Emuze said.
The contestants had to compete in four categories: evening attire, talent, traditional attire and a question and answer segment focusing on the contestants’ platforms.
The judges included professors, graduate students and past ASA executive board members. The judges paid special attention to pose and eloquence, creativity, the platforms and relevance to African culture and the diaspora.
The show began with contestants introducing themselves and their platforms. Later, during the evening attire segment, each contestant was introduced as they walked down the aisle with their escort.
Afterward, it was time for the talent portion of the show. Five contestants advocated their platforms and their represented countries by singing, reciting poetry and playing an instrument.
The traditional attire came next, with the eight contestants dressed up in their countries’ traditional clothing.
The last portion of the show was the question and answer segment, in which five contestants were allowed to speak briefly about their platforms and to answer three questions picked by the judges.
Emuze advocated primary health care issues in Nigeria. Yusuf spoke about spreading awareness of reconnecting the historical and present struggles of African Americans. Anaemereibe advocated clean water and adequate sanitation in Nigeria. Rivers spoke about human trafficking in Jamaica. Adekunle’s speech focused on the government corruption in Nigeria.
After an intermission featuring ASA dancers and the African Student Cultural Organization dancers from UM-Kansas City, the awards and the winners of the pageant were announced.
ASA president Josephine Lawal said she thought the event came out wonderfully.
“We gave it all our best and were able to have a lot of people come, and then just the participants themselves,” she said. “They were the main ones who brought the event to life.”
Lawal also discussed the ASA’s future plans for the year.
“We’re planning to work with HALO (Hispanic American Leadership Organization) on the World Cup, but now we’re calling it the Gold Cup to make it One Mizzou,” she said. “From March 5 to March 8 we’re having an Africa Week with Africa 101.”
Emuze said she felt it was an honor to get an opportunity as meaningful as this pageant.
“It allowed me to showcase a lot of what I stand for and give Mizzou a reliable face to remember,” she said.
Anaemereibe said he felt like he was worth something.
“I think I gained motivation and self-confidence,” he said. “Now I have bigger confidence and a bigger belief in what I’m trying to do in order to help my people, to provide and go out there and advocate.”