So I went to the African Student Association’s beauty pageant, the ticket for which was generously given to e free of charge when I met some of the lovely women competing at the International Bazaar.
The even was held in Meacham Theater in the Student Union. While we waited for the pageant to start, contemporary African music played and the audience talked to each other. I made several new friends just in the span of 40 minutes (“African time is nothing like CP time,” one of these new friends told me.)
The pageant was small, with only five contestants, but there was no shortage of pomp or circumstance. The had a lovely opening number and then they introduced themselves and told us about their platforms. The topics of interest ranged from beauty across all sizes, to integrating and healing the relationship between Africans in the homeland and blacks in the Diaspora. Each topic had merit, and each woman competing was well informed and did an excellent job of putting forward her ideas.
Then there was evening wear, outfit of choice, and talent. All of the outfit for all of the contestants were brightly colored with Afrocentric patterns. The women were all beautiful, but with different skin tones, hair length and styles, and body types. In the African-American community, there is still the idea of the “ideal” black woman: light skin, long hair, curvy but not too curvy. But all of these girls were equally celebrated by the audience. The talent portions featured diverse talent as well. There were songs, poetry, even spoken word. The last act was a song performed by my friend Joy, who is Nigerian. She sang a song that is popular in Nigerian church, and the whole audience joined in. I was amazed and a little jealous. This was the native language for so many people in the audience, and while it was cool that so many people got to experience a little bit of home while being so far away from it, I wished I knew the words so that I could join in too.
In the end, Amarachi Pipi, a track star for the University of Oklahoma won the pageant. She had the most crowd support, but she was also an amazing singer and she carried herself with an air of well-deserved pride and approachable humility at the same time. Congratulations, Amarachi!