By Kiyanna Noel
Kings and queens representing different countries in Africa attended African Unity: The African Student Association’s 11th annual pageant April 15.
Four contestants have a chance to be named King or Queen of Africa based on performance, presentation and how they answer the questions given to them by the three judges Osayame Uzamere, Liz Sesay and Travis Gorham.
The contestants who ran for the title of King of Africa were Kevinne Ngokana representing Congo and Medex Assemba representing Gabon.
The contestants who ran for the title ofQueen of Africa were Khouriya Deh representing Mauritania and Dayanara Martinez representing Uganda.
The pageant started with intern Vania Nyarko and Naomi Adebayo introducing the judges, followed by a small video presentation introducing the contestants to the Hunger Games inspired event. Not only was the Hunger Games referenced in flyers, but it was also referenced by having contestants place their name in a bowl.
After the video, the contestants approached the dance floor and began a rehearsed dance routine. The crowd was very receptive to the performance, students took videos of their friends and cheered them on as they had their own individual solos.
After the performance, the contestants were brought back on stage to share with the judges and the audience who they are and give their reasons why they chose to represent their country. Each started by speaking a different language, as well as explaining their future endeavors after graduation.
Entrepreneurship Business administration and international business major Deh chose Mauritania because of her family. Deh explained how she is grateful for Mauritania and all it has taught her, but acknowledged the ongoing crimes happening in Mauritania. She hoped to shed a light on the history of Mauritania.
“Mauritania was the last country in the entire world to abolish slavery in 1981. Less than half a decade ago slavery was still a thing and it was not criminalized until 2008. Unfortunately it is still practiced today and even the parts where it isn’t colorism plays a huge role in oppressing Black people,” Deh said. “Although my family is mixed, a large part has fought to bring equality to all Mauritanians regardless of their skin color. This has motivated me to choose a career path that will help bring my country and many others similar to it a more stable and advanced place to call home.”
International business major Ngokana expressed why he wanted to represent Congo and gave a few facts about what the country is known for. He also physically showed how people from Congo are known for their waistlines by showing his, resulting in an eruption of gasps and cheers from the crowd.
Accounting major Martinez explained why she is representing Uganda despite being from Honduras.
“The reason that I chose this beautiful land is because I was intrigued by the similarities of my country and Uganda from the drumming to the dancing,” Martinez said.
Biomedical science major Assemba explained his connection to Gabon and how grateful he is to it for making him the man he is today. He explained how he lived in Gabon for more than half his life and how it made a powerful impact on him despite knowing that not many people know it exists.
Following their introductions, a game of musical chairs was played and what started out in good fun ended in a small altercation between two students. Two female students fought over the last chair, as one fell to the floor still pulling the metal arm rest of the chair while the other student was standing and doing the same. This led to the arm rest hitting the student on the floor’s tooth and causing her to bleed. The student did end up winning the prize money after their opponent was disqualified for unsportsmanlike behavior.
After this, models walked the runway wearing clothes by Uzamere’s clothing line OmoobaFashions. The types of clothes ranged from elegant floor length dresses to traditional African wear.
“I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now and eight of those years, the beginning the foundation was actually started right here in SUNY Plattsburgh out of my dorm room. I used to cut fabric, measure clients, you know, take all that right on the campus,” Uzamere said. “Fun fact, every year for the past eight years my clothing has been on this stage. So I’m just thankful to be here once again and I’m thankful for African Unity.”
The talent portion followed shortly after this with each contestant showcasing their own talents and representing their country of choice.
Deh who performed a mix of spoken word and dance dedicated to Mauritania representing strength and power in unity and words. The second performer was Ngokana doing a dance routine with two women as back up dancers, making sure to incorporate his waistline. The third performer was Martinez doing a step routine with a few African style moves with two women as back up dancers. The last performance was a spoken letter to Gabon by Assemba apologizing for leaving to further his education while also expressing immense gratitude for all Gabon did to provide for him. Evans D’Pulpit played the piano while Assemba performed his talent.
After each contestant had a chance to perform, members of the AU board performed a dance routine which impressed the crowd. It is rare for the e-board to perform instead of African Unity Dance.
Following their performance, each contestant came back to the stage to answer questions about how they relate to their country and what they believe that their country could improve on. The contestants came out wearing traditional clothes from their country while a pre-recorded audio played explaining what the colors of their clothes represented and acknowledging the different garments and jewelry.
After the Q and A portion, an intermission took place while the judges deliberated the results. This also allowed students to vote for the People’s Choice using a QR code.
President of African Unity Abieyuwa Uzamere brought the contestants back on stage and reminded everyone that they “are all winners” even if they don’t win Queen or King of Africa. Miss Congeniality was given to Martinez. The People’s Choice award went to Assemba. The Queen of Africa was Deh and the King of Africa was Nkogana.
Abieyuwa Uzamere thanked everyone who came and showed their support due to the lack of people in attendance.