The Miss West Africa UK 2012 final took place at the Mermaid Theatre in Blackfriars on Saturday night in front of an audience of fashionistas, West African dignitaries and fans of African beauty.
The show was excellently hosted by James Sherwood and Kamilah McCalman, who kept the audience entertained while the stunning competitors changed from dance wear to traditional wear to evening wear.
The judges were at the top of their game, firing quick questions at the contestants during the evening wear round and busily scribbling down notes about the poise, and appearance the contestants gave, as well as their answers.
The panel was made up fashion stylist Jason Boateng who has dressed some of my favourite celebrities from Lloyd to the very stylish lead singer of the Noisettes, Shingai Shoniwa. His brand, JB Styling, has styled shoots for publications as diverse as Pride and Elle Magazines.
Second on the panel was former beauty queen Tulla Morgan who has been a big supporter of the pageant and knows first hand how to be a successful model. Thirdly came former Miss West Africa UK Shireen Benjamin who was crowned in 2009 and since then has modelled for Dwight Edwards and Alasia Ballard from America’s Next Top Model.
The final panellist was John Farer who is a noted fashion photographer whose work has been published and exhibited worldwide, and who won the Photographer of the Year award in both 2010 and 2011.
The musical talent was both diverse and extremely entertaining. Acts included Valentine, Loxie and Faye, Stephanie La May and The Drama Boys, all of whom warmed the crowd up before the contestants performed their opening dance.
Later on in the night we were entertained by the talented Sonnibali who taught us how to Amanda, British-Ghanian Skob and F4 Fashion Victims as well as DJ Fii Fii. And now for the stunning contestants…
Representing: Ivory Coast
Occupation: Journalism and Communication student at Middlesex University
Fact: She wants to show Ivorian women can be strong minded and make something of themselves
Talent: Estelle performed a hilarious monologue in the role of a religious ancient Auntie
Representing: Guinea Bissau
Occupation: Travel and Tourism at student
Fact: She firmly believes that education is the the key to helping orphaned children
Talent: Performed a self-written poem entitled “I am an African”
Occupation: Business and Management student
Fact: Volunteers at St. Johns as a first aider
Talent: Performed a poem entitled “I am that woman”
Occupation: Magazine publishing student at the University of the Arts
Fact: She is excited to get involved in more charity work
Talent: Catherine sang Redemption Song
Representing: Ivory Coast
Occupation: Finance student
Fact: Works part time on her natural skin and hair care business
Talent: Olivia performed a contemporary dance to Give My Self Away
Occupation: Politics and Economics student and sales and advertising manager at Afropulp magazine
Fact: Wants to challenge the stereotype in pageants that beauty is more important than intelligence
Talent: Felicity performed a self-written poem entitled The Road to Recovery
Occupation: Full-time college student
Fact: Wants to help those less fortunate than her, become a role model and inspire others
Talent: Sarah transformed herself as she performed her monologue acting as Callum from Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman which brought a tear to both her and my eye
Occupation: Business and information systems student at the University of Hertfordshire
Fact: Entering Miss West Africa has helped her get closer to her African roots
Talent: Mercy performed a vibrant dance to a song by the Midnight Crew
Occupation: Teacher, CEO of U Media Films and head of Film at Kids company – Urban Academy
Fact: She is keen to support education charities in her home country of Ghana
Talent: Tonisha thought outside the box and got the audience on their feet by teaching the audience the Amanda dance performed earlier by Sonnibali
Representing: Sierra Leone
Occupation: Youth worker
Fact: She feels there is nothing more fulfilling than helping those less fortunate than herself
Talent: Samretta gave a self written speech entitled My Socialisation
Representing: The Gambia
Occupation: Model and fashion designer
Fact: She hopes to give something back to her home country
Talent: Oley did something different from the other contestants and performed a dance while painting onto a canvas
Occupation: Mental health nursing student at Northampton University and a part time model
Fact: Miss World is her ultimate aim
Talent: Performed a short drama about orphaned children
And the winner is…
Contestant number 8, Mercy Ukor who will go onto battle contestants world wide for the title of Miss West Africa! Runner up was Tonisha Tagoe, from Ghana and 3rd place went to Olivia Balou from the Ivory Coast with Estelle winning Miss Congeniality 2012!