Friday, September 30, 2011

Check this out!

The Hilltop recently interviewed and wrote a story on me. Check it out by clicking on the link below:

Contestants and all

I completely forgot to tell you guys and dolls about the Miss Africa USA press conference and Pan African festival. Sorry :-(

The contestants and I present our platforms and hung out with each other. We had a blast!!!! They were all beautiful, smart and just overall awesome! Several had foundations to empower other young women, which they incorporated into their platforms. Others were currently modeling, in addition to going to college, like the rest of us. All of us.....completely divalish ambasssadors of our countries.

After recording our platforms for the cameras, we filed out with the founder of the pageant, Lady Kate, to a nearby African festival to assist the emcee and meet other Africans and educate the community about the beauty and diversity of the African people and cultures present.

Overall, the events were a complete success and I cannot wait to meet up with these gals on November 13, 2011. Save the date!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This weekend...

Ladies and gentlemen, your girl is back in the building! This weekend was such a busy one in so many ways. Where should I start? Hmm.....what about Friday?

On Friday, the Diaspora Council of Tanzanians in America (DICOTA) had its annual conference in Dulles, Virginia, commemorating 50 years of Tanzanian independence from the British. There were vendors from abroad and here, Tanzanian people all across the diaspora were in attendance and not to mention, some special guests. President Jakaya Kikiwete of  Tanzania paid a special visit to all in attendance as well as the Tanzanian Ambassador to the U.S., Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar. Since I happened to walk into the area right after the President, I, along with several other people, were not allowed into the main ballroom where he was giving a speech. I was upset because I had traveled over two-and-a-half hours, paid a $100 and event spent time attempting to convince offiicals that I should be let in. Well, I guess God was on my side because a lovely man (thanks David!) was able to speak for me and helped me gain access inside the main conference room. All in all, I was able to get good pictures of the President and the Ambassador, networked with other Tanzanian people and made a lot of good contacts. There were quite a few people who were not happy that I could not speak the language (Swahili) very well, but I'm working on it. Rome was not built in a day.

Saturday was an exciting day in its own. I participated in a press conference and attended a Pan African festival in Silver Spring, MD with the other contestants in the Miss Africa USA pageant. All of the young women present were beautiful, smart and charming. Unfortunately, since Tanzanians were having a major conference during this time, I was unable to meet any present at the festival. I don't think any were there at all. Oh well. I had a great time dancing with some of the performers and watching other acts. I was pooped at the end of the day, but it was informative, fun and cultural.

Yesterday, I met Ambassador Maajar at her office in Dupont Circle. For those who are not familiar with the D.C. area, Dupont Circle is home the majority of embassies of other countries in the United States. I spoke with her and the director of public affairs regarding my platform and the importance of getting the Tanzanian people, particularly the youth, to impove the literacy rate in the country. We took some photos together and I departed the building for class in the evenings. So, yesterday, I went to my internship at the DC Rape Crisis Center, met with the Tanzanian ambassador and went to class. Yeah, I guess that's the life of a rising mover-and-shaker in the world.

Until next time...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Leila Lopes is Miss Universe

A few days ago, I watched the 2011 Miss Universe pageant from the lovely comforts of my home. While I didn't catch the pageant in its entirety, I was able to cheer on the contestants and anxiously waited for the results. Nelly Kamwelu (Miss Universe Tanzania) won 7th place in Best National Costume. While she didn't make the top 10 or 5, I was happy to see pageant contestants from Tanzania get some shine. I was also able to catch a few glimpses of her throughout the pageant.

To make a long story short, a beauty (may I emphasize BLACK) from the country of ANGOLA stole the show. She was clearly a crowd favorite and eventually went on to win the crown of Miss Universe. I was screaming at the top of my lungs when she won! I was so happy for a number of reasons. First, most of the major pageant systems to tend to favor Eurocentric beauty standards of straight hair, narrow noses and other keen features. Most black women are far from that, with out round noses, most-often-than-not kinky hair and larger buttocks. I believe this deters many a black girl from even attempting to compete in a pageant due to the fear that they may not win due to their looks. However, I believe winning goes far beyond that. It is about one's essence, intellect, service to the community and public speaking skills. It is about making each and every single individual you encounter feel like they are your new best friend. It is about bring out the best in yourself and others. Clearly, Leila did well against the rest of her competition and won her crown fair and square.

When black women win these pageants and other accolades, there is usually some type of backlash because of a few things. One contestant, who shall remain nameless, made the following statement: "She was the only girl I didn’t know very well. We didn’t see her much.” Then she criticized her looks. “She was often in jeans and not wearing makeup. We were all surprised by her win."

You can be reserved and have a personality. Makeup is used to enhance one's beauty, not change it altogether. In addition, I would also like to add that contestants who place do well in their interviews, talent, evening gown and other segments which they will be judged. The winner is not chosen based on the final question, but rather their overall scores.

All in all, our current Miss Universe is black, from Angola and speaks Portuguese. She is beautiful, smart and clearly a role model. Let's celebrate it, be happy for another's success and be done with it.