Michelo Malambo, the Zambian representative in the first-ever Miss Africa Continent that was held last week in Johannesburg, South Africa, almost won the title after emerging runner-up to the impressive Miss Ghana, Rebecca Asamoah.
It was an admirable performance by the Zambian contestant, who also represented the country at the Miss World beauty pageant in China early this year.
However, it was the Ghanaian who stole the limelight; and all the headlines in the international press, after emerging winner from a field of 12 contestants, drawn from an original list of 40, who took to the catwalk at the Gold Reef City casino in Johannesburg.
The pageant, a brain child of South African film producer Neo Mashishi, was unique in its own way.
The pageant had had contestants barefoot, and wearing traditional costumes including animal hide skirts and elaborately beaded headdresses, strutting the stage as well as contestants wearing black t-shirts and tight shorts while dancing barefoot to music of the likes of Salif Keita instead of the traditional swimwear.
In the end, the Ghanaian, a 24-year-old dental hygienist proved the best of them all with South Africa’s Jemimah Kandimiri coming out third.
The Ghanaian, wearing braids, entered the stage in a traditional Ghanaian Ashanti gold-coloured beaded crown and then returned in an evening dress made from the country’s trademark kente cloth.
“This is the first-ever Miss Africa Continent,” Mashishi, who said the pageant has been five years in the making, was quoted.
“This is about Africa. We are selling Africa to the world, and we are proud to be African. The way everything was done was African; we didn’t emulate anything from Miss Universe or Miss World.”
The inaugural Miss Africa Continent winner, who was also runner-up in the 2015 Miss Ghana, walked away with a grant to study business management at Monash University in Johannesburg.
“There are a lot of things to be fixed in Africa – water, education, and environmental issues,” she told AFP.
“My main concern is the empowerment of youths…so we can work hand-in-hand and put our continent in the best place it should be.”