By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
21 year old Motswanan, Gaseangwe Balopi from Botswana has been crowned as the second Miss Africa beauty queen on climate change.
Citizens of Botswana are known as Batswana, with ‘Ba’ meaning ‘the people of’. (The singular is Motswana.)
Balopi who pipped 24 others to clinch the coveted crown which includes USD30,000 prize money, a car was crowned Wednesday morning at the Calabar International Convention Center, venue of the event by her predecessor, Neurite Mendes from Angola.
26 year old Luyolo Mngonyama from South Africa emerged second runner up with a cash prize of USD5,000 while 23 year old Fiona Muthoni Naringwa from Rwanda emerged as first runner up carting home USD10,000.
In his remarks, Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade lamented the sad situation of young Africans whose choice of migrating is premised on the lack of opportunities available to them due to a failure of leadership.
“It is therefore the failure of those of us who are in government. As a young professor, a professor of toxicology, I am a very good researcher; I have inventions to my credit. Today, I speak as a politician; that is still failure of Africans; failing to stay focused on your area of responsibility,” Ayade said, adding that: “Africa must rediscover herself; Africa must admit that we have gone wrong. We must come back and reconstruct our story, our young people. Because we don’t give them opportunity, they find alternatives; the desperation to survive pushes them out there.
“So please as we are gathered here, let us for once stop and ask; if you were in their shoes, if they don’t have the privilege that I had, what is the chance that our own children, the young generation will have it better? For us to tell the African story from our perspective, I think it is best for us to use a face that is appealing, exciting, oh so glamorous like my wife.”
The Governor explained that the choice of migration as the theme for this year’s pageant was premised on the choice of the same theme for the 2017 Carnival Calabar as it has become “a burning issue.”
He lamented that the perception of the skin color of Africa was that of incompetence and lack of capacity and noted that: “That is the story we want to change, that is the narrative we want to reconstruct. Because indeed we have to tell the African story from the African perspective.
“Africa is the richest continent on earth. Africa is got the best brains, most beautiful people. Africa’s got humanity, got good conscience, Africa’s got love. Africans understand from Afrocentric quality, that you have to provide a shoulder for your weaker brother or sister to lean on. Africa’s got truly, a good heart that really make you African. Therefore, an African woman celebration is a celebration of Africa indeed.”
Ayade then went on a litany of deductive questions which drew emotions from the audience.
He asked: “How can a continent that is awashed with diamonds, gold, platinum, uranium; the list is endless. How will a continent awashed with all forms of solid minerals including crude oil and gas be poor? How can Africa blessed with the right climate, with the right rainfall, with the right quality of people, with the right demography, how can such a continent be poor?
“How can a continent that boasts of producing professors and doctors who have contributed immensely across the entire globe be seeing not to be intellectually sound. How can a continent that produce and manufactured and invented the fastest computer on earth, how can that continent be said is intellectually challenged?”
Continuing, he averred that: “The sarcasm and arrogance, the iconoclastic suspicion of Africa as being sub-human has come to a point where we al must change. You must understand that we are all gathered here just to pick the most beautiful woman, we are gathered here also to pick a beautiful woman that has a calistethic combination of brains and beauty. We are here to pick an African woman, who truly looks African. We want an African woman that truly looks African and that woman who also has the growth, the feeling, the pain, the agony, the melancholy of an African woman.
“I challenge the judges, Africa tell their story by our Carnival philosophy, we use dance and processional drama to tell the story, but today we are going to use beauty to tell the story. The choice of migration therefore, is focused on trying to tell young Africans who find themselves going through the Mediterranean sea, through tough very difficult terrain to find themselves going to America, to tell them to come back to Africa where beauty, class, elegance, panache, vitality and all that you need exists. Africa is home, Africa is indeed the right home for us to be. We must do all we can to stop our young people from going out.”l
Hosted by IK Osakioduwa and Weza Solange, the event saw participants entertains by performances from Flavour, DJ Jimmy Jatt, Mafikizolo, Neza, Xerona Duke and the HWOSA Choir, Okpo Rekordz, T-Shawn among others with notable attendees including former Governor Donald Duke who joined his daughter to perform; business mogul, Sani Dangote amongst others.