On Saturday evening, the doors of the Old Town Hall in Stratford opened for groups of family, friends and supporters for the Miss Congo UK 2013 Beauty Pageant.
Hosted by comedian Eddie Kadi and VoxAfrica presenter Mimi Fawaz, the night went off with a bang as the beautiful contestants made a spectacular entrance when they danced in traditional style making their way on to the stage.
The contestants who were aged between 17-20, were put through a number of rounds including a bikini fashion show and a quick fire question and answer time from the four judges.
During the talent round, 19-year-old Kevine Bikebi, an anthropology student, who was later crowned Miss Congo UK 2013, delivered a powerful poem about her Congo which got the whole room on their feet and raising the roof. The worthy winner was by far leading the pack throughout the night’s event.
Kevine said of her win:
My decision to enter Miss Congo was not based on vanity, I had no desire to become popular or a want to be worshipped for what I look like on the outside. I wanted to be an ambassador for my country, a voice for the voiceless and a positive female Congolese role model.
Hard, hard work, really does pay off, and it feels great, knowing I gave my all and it was recognised and appreciated.
Miss Congo to me is not just a title, it is a duty. A duty to my people, a duty to my continent and all the brothers and sisters I share it with, a duty to black people and women of all races around world.
This year I hope to make history, put Congo back on the map, do something, stand out from the previous Queens nationally, internationally, and hopefully set the bar for the next year Miss Congo.
A number of VIPs were in attendance including Miss Tourism Ghana, Miss Uganda 2012 and Kevani Kanda, the host of the BBC Three documentary Branded A Witch.
The sell out Gala event brought awareness to the issues currently affecting many within the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they held a one-minute silence in respect for them all.
Frankos Tshimpuki, CEO of Disk and Jockey Media and visionary for this event said:
The night was a huge success considering the obstacles we had to got through to make it there. From the hosts to the make up artists, everyone was fantastic.
In the four years of running Miss Congo UK, I can proudly say this year was the best and the best contestant won.
The night fulfilled its aim of promoting Congolese women as women of power and intelligence. So expect to hear a lot more about Miss Congo UK in the near future.
There was also a special performance from Congolese musician Awilo Longomba.
It was amazing night and was an inspiration to see young women wanting to make a difference and get involved to help a cause that is close to their hearts.
I can’t wait to see how next year’s contestants will top Kevine’s effort.