Special Feature: Miss Ghana Beauty Pageant—Going down memory lane

For those who had a taste or have been following the Miss Ghana Beauty pageant since 1957 when the programme was first introduced as part of the country’s independence celebrations, they no doubt would attest to the fact that the contest has metamorphosed over the decades.  It has given good entertainment and educational moments to those who have followed and continue to follow the programme.

Margaret Dery, Miss Ghana 2017

Some have described the pageant from its early beginning and through the 1960s the “good old days” where real beauty without the thick make-ups were exhibited.  The days where you could tell a natural beauty from a make-up beauty.   However, in terms of the organisation of the event and the selection processes, many more have described current Miss Ghana events as total improvement.

In this article, the writer takes a look at the pageant as it was then, the journeys it has travelled onto this day and tries to compare and contrast, bringing out those captivating moments as seen by beauties who were very much involved in some of the competitions that have over decades captured live and television audiences for six decades.

At the turn of the 1990s, one lady who was herself in the thick of the competition is Miss Brigitte Dzogbenuku who participated in the event of 1991 and successfully came out as Miss Ghana 1991.  In an exclusive interview with her, Miss Dzogbenuku heartily shared her personal experience as a contestant in 1991, then an undergraduate student of the University of Ghana.

“It was not my intention to contest, especially when I saw the young girls who had come to take part and past winners.  I didn’t think I could beat them in the competition however, I was persuaded by a good friend, Dzidzor Abra Amoa, who was then Miss Ghana 1988, Mr Mathias Akutia, and a very close person I called Uncle Jimmy.  I also got some push from Embassy, the then organisers, when I tried out as a social hostess looking to make some more money as a student in Legon.

Recounting some of her ordeals during and in the pageant house, Miss Dzogbenuku said when she joined the contest, she kept an open-mind because she knew there was definitely going to be a winner and whether she won or not, she ensured she enjoyed every bit of the competition.

“We visited sponsors of the programme, had photo shoot sessions, fashion shows, dancing competitions across regions,” she recounted.

Roselyn Senam Tay, Miss Ghana 2017 Contestant

 

How did it affect your career?

“Going into the contest definitely boosted my confidence as it did to the other girls and it also led to interactions of people from higher ranks in society.  Career wise yes, it did.  Everywhere you went people were readily available to talk and give you a listening ear.  It was no surprise that when I recently contested as the Vice President to Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom under the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) banner, a lot of people referred to me as Miss Ghana.

When asked if she was in contact with some of the past winners this was her response: “Yes I am still in contact with Dzidzor, Matilda and my roommates during the contest and a few who are my Facebook friends.

On whether there is an association of former winners of the pageant, she responded in the negative, adding: “There is nothing of such, none that I know of and I believe that when past winners want to get on board the Miss Ghana Pageantry, they will do so.  This is because for me one may not necessarily need an association in order to invest and help people.”

 

How do you see Miss Ghana then and now?

“Although I don’t follow closely, I think that the face of the pageant has changed in that they do auditions now.  I think that the organisers should do well to make their events more entertaining and attractive.

Miss Ghana Beauty Pageant began in 1957 by the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, as an initiative to offer the “Independent” Ghanaian woman a platform to positively impact society.  It is the biggest and oldest national beauty pageant in Ghana.

The pageant has, over the years, carved an impressive niche as that generates awareness to various socio-economic problems, collaborates with government institutions and corporate organisations in sending relief to various deserving communities across the country.

It has actively been involved in providing meaningful and lasting solutions to most of the social interventions embarked on.

 

How it all started

The beauty contest was initially organised by the Department of Social Welfare.  It was first held at the Accra Community Centre on March 4, 1957 and 22-year-old Miss Monica Amekoafia, from Alavanyo the Trans Volta Togoland now Volta Region, became the first-ever Miss Ghana.

Monica Amekoafia (L) Miss Ghana 1957

The event was first organised by the Public Works Department (PWD).  Over the years, organisations and managements of the pageant have changed hands from Malinro Ventures, Embassy, Sicap through Media Whizz Kids, Sparrow Productions and back to Media Whizz Kids.  Currently, the pageant is being organised and managed by Exclusive Events Ghana, an events management company, headed by Miss Inna Mariam Patty, (Miss Ghana 2004).

As part of the show, the winner of each contest represents the country at the Miss World contest to compete with beauty queens from other countries in the world.  In 1959, Ghana debuted at Miss World with Star Nyaniba Annan.

There have been two candidates (1990 and 1991) who represented Ghana at Miss World, but were not Miss Ghana titleholders.  There have also been occasions where Ghana was not represented at Miss World even though there was a titleholder.

Aside from the Miss World, the pageant is also responsible for sending representatives to Miss ECOWAS.  The winner also signs a one-year contract with the pageant organiser to become the spokesperson of their various charities.

 

 

Essence

In essence, the core idea, ‘Beauty with a Purpose,’ has not changed though the role of women in society keeps evolving.

There is therefore, the need for a platform to showcase the emerging and challenging roles of women today.

 

Boateng Serwaa Linda, Miss Ghana 2017 Contestant

 

The Process

20 contestants from the 10 regions in the country are selected to take part in the contest.  Series of activities are carried out before the main event which is held to determine the winner of the competition.  Some of these activities include visits to sponsor companies, fashion and runway shows, dance competitions, photo shoots as well as questions and answer segments.

Contestants are trimmed down as the activities go by to make way for mainstream number to contest for the crown.

 

Down Memory Lane

Monica Amekoafia participated in the very first Miss Ghana as she represented the people of the Volta Region.  She participated in both the district and the regional events which she won reluctantly and found herself on stage at the Accra Community Centre where she vied for the Miss Ghana title with other representatives from the Eastern and Western Provinces and Ashanti and Northern Territories.

After winning, Monica took a trip to London to pay a few courtesy calls and was presented with a box of chocolate with her image on it.  She also visited many clothing and textiles industries.

Miss Monica later became Mrs Monica Marrah after she met and married a Ghanaian diplomat sojourning in London, Henry Kofi Marrah, with whom she had two daughters and sons.  She passed on and was laid to rest in 1991 at the Legon Hall of the University of Ghana.

Inna Mariam Patty, Miss Ghana 2004

Roll call of Past Beauties

The names of past Miss Ghana winners have been included in the compilation below as we tried to capture the “who is who” down memory lane.  All missing years are years which the contest failed to come off.

 

Year Winner
1957 Monica Amekoafia
1958 Janet Boateng
1959 Star Nyaniba Annan
1960 Comfort Kwamena
1967 Araba Martha Vroom
1968 Lovell Rosebud Wordie
1986 Magdalene Adjabeng
1987 Augustina Henaku
1988 Dzidzo Abra Amoa
1989 Afua Amoah Bonsu
1990 Brigitte Dzogbenuku
1994 Matilda Aku Alomatu
1995 Manuela Medie
1996 Shiela Azuntaba
1997 Benita Golomeke
1998 Efia Owusuaa Marfo
1999 Mariam Sugru Bugri
2000 Ewurafua Hawkson
2001 Selasi Kwawu
2002 Shaida Buari
2003 Serena Naa Ashi Roye
2004 Inna Patty
2005 Lamisi Mbillah
2006 Irene Dwomoh
2007 Frances Takyi-Mensah
2008 Mawusi Apea
2009 Mimi Areme
2010 Stephanie Karikari
2012 Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter
2013 Giuseppina Nana Akua Baafi
2015 Antoinette Kemavor
2017 Margaret Dery

What Went Wrong/Criticisms/Challenges

It’s a fact that most pageants are more beauty-influenced than brains and Miss Ghana is no exception.  However, since beauty is subjective, it makes sense if that is overlooked in determining which of the beauty contests in the country is slightly ahead of the other.

 

But since it has been said that all fingers are not equal, comparing Miss Ghana to other pageants will be like forcing a square peg into a round hole – it will never fit.

Adu-Gyempeh Nora Saamaa, Miss Ghana 2017 Contestant

Miss Ghana was launched to propagate Ghana’s cultural values.  Its core aim was to protect our heritage and our culture.  Fast forward to 60 years on, that beauty pageant is now all about empowering young women to positively impact society as well as fulfill their aspirations.

 

Young ladies are desperate to be beauty queens as they find it a relatively easier route to getting closer to their dream.  This has put beauty pageants in high demand, and seeing how gullible some of these ladies are, people are taking advantage and introducing all forms of pageants.

 

It is not certain that it is the financial gains or because it has become the in-thing but beauty pageants have seen major growth, increased and multiplied in Ghana.

One may believe that the numerous challenges Miss Ghana and its organisations faced in the past has also contributed to this new phenomenon.  People had to fill the void created by the no-show from the Miss Ghana organisers by introducing new pageants so to some extent, it is reasonable and logical for people to want to compare the national pageant to other beauty shows springing up now, with reference to the Miss Malaika, Ghana’s Most Beautiful, Miss Tourisms and the Miss XL plus although Miss Ghana has lived long enough and served its purpose for 60 years and counting.

 

Other Criticisms/Comparisons

Prizes for Winners: Miss Malaika 2012, Sharon Cofie took home GH¢6,000, a KIA saloon car, beauty products, wardrobe and other souvenirs from the sponsors. Miss Ghana 2012, Naa Okailey Shooter, went home with GH¢3,000 plus a Hyundai Accent 2012 model, beauty products, wardrobe and other souvenirs from sponsors for a year.

 

Comparing the two queens, the Miss Malaika queen received more money in the year but other prizes that came with Miss Ghana make the Malaika prize look inadequate.  Naa Shooter got to represent Ghana at the Miss World competition while there was no international competition for the Malaika queen to compete in.

There is also a year’s accommodation for the queen and her two runners-up, who will be residing at the plush Miss Ghana House, donated by Manet Properties.

 

Also, there were other exciting offers which included full educational scholarships worth USD220,000.00 ($110,000.00 each) to two lucky finalists, to study with one of the best universities; Benedict College in the United States of America.

 

Miss Ghana’s two runners-up have an official car for a whole year while there are not such arrangements for the Miss Malaika runners-up.
Travelling: There are not known travelling opportunities for the Miss Malaika runners-up.  Their counterparts from Miss Ghana represent Ghana at international pageants which come with travel opportunities.

 

Success: One of the major projects undertaken by the Miss Ghana Foundation, among many others is the Don Bosco Street Child Project; where the Foundation aided in acquiring a 10-acre land and established a hostel where thousands of street children are given social and technical training.  The land also hosts the only functioning Child Protection Centre in Ghana.

 

Miss Inna Patty in a recent interview on Hitz FM, an Accra-based radio station, stated that the event under the management of her outfit, has chalked unprecedented success in terms of performances at the international pageants level.

The whole face of the event has also been changed to include auditions and diamond jubilee train in every region for the celebrations.

 

Miss Magdalene Agyebeng Miss Ghana 1986 in an interview told Today said she presently works as a Secretary at the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI), an institute mandated by heads of state of The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to establish a common Central Bank (WACB) with a common currency for member countries.

 

Asked what is the correlation between her role as former Miss Ghana and her current position as a secretary, this is what she said: “I am not into showbiz or the entertainment world, neither am I in the fashion world.  One would expect that a Miss Ghana would be in these endeavours.  However, the privilege of having been a Miss Ghana has certainly enhanced my status in society and helped in shaping my character in playing an effective role in challenging environments.  One such environment is WAMI,” she indicated.

Hamida Awentemi Yakubu, Miss Ghana 2017 Contestant

According to her, the marketing aspect of the pageant is one area that has tremendously changed her life over the years.
“Grooming of the contestants regarding the key characteristics of a beauty queen eg., physical appearance, height, vital statistics, poise, intelligence, oratory and interaction among others have also improved.
“The clothes design world has also changed.  Initially, designing was largely focused on celebrities and affluent people but these days it has been extended to the average person.  There is also the opportunity to showcase national designers’ creativity at the international level.
“The good thing is that beauty pageants now involve wealth and affluence just like football and music.  We missed these juicy aspects during our time.  It was just for the fun of it then,” she said.

 

To young and upcoming ladies she advised that they get themselves educated and try to stay focused.  “They must take care of themselves and pay particular attention to what they eat and drink.  Regular exercising of the body is highly recommended.”

 

Perhaps the youngest Miss Ghana contestant, 18 years old Adelita Kabuki Ami Tettegah, who took part in the 2017 edition pageant, is a second year psychology student of the University of Ghana in an interview said: “I want to be the diamond jubilee queen because I want to showcase my beauty and intelligence to the world.  I have a passion to help the less-privileged in society and also to show that I can confidently represent my nation with pride.”

 

According to Ami, her ambition is to become a role model to help society positively by touching the hearts of less-privileged and be a beacon of hope for the people of her community and Ghana as a whole.

To her, the pageant over the years has undergone so many changes. “It is not the same as it started in 1957, where the then government organised the contest as part of the independence celebrations.

 

Miss Ghana In The Years To Come

Miss Ghana 60YearsOn is not all about the glitz, ‘glam’ and the many privileges that come with the crown.  It comes with an ambassadorial role that involves lots of work – in joining other enterprising ladies to bring change to communities.

 

The role of the Queen is also to serve as a role model who aids in generating support for the under-privileged in societies to get access to quality education, health and good standard of living.

 

In this light, the pageant will continue to empower its winners to concentrate their efforts on educational, health, environmental and economic sectors of the country.

 

Its biggest dream is to garner support for the hosting of the world event (Miss World) as it generates millions of dollars in revenue and investment for a successful country.

 

By Mizpah Etormenye Mensavie-Ayivor

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