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7 to compete in 9th annual Miss Afrikan Queen

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Apr. 20, 2023

This week, seven women will be fully embracing the meaning of the saying, “Black is beautiful” as they compete in the ninth annual Miss Afrikan Queen 2023 pageant scheduled for Saturday night, April 22, at The Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts, in Belize City.

This year’s pageant will serve as a relaunch following a 3-year hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Chinyeré Wade, Miss Afrikan Queen 2019, will be finally crowning her successor, this year’s winner.

Among the contestants are Kyra Young, who will be representing South Africa; Vanessa Williams, representing Kenya; Jasmin Roches, representing Uganda; Judia Young representing Nigeria; Crysel Gabourel, representing Ethiopia; Shernell Spence, representing Zimbabwe; and Lechille Dixon, who will be representing Ghana.

Each woman selected an African country of her choice. After research and preparation, each will be showcasing her talent, poise, and a statement on why she is a proud Belizean woman of African descent.

The Miss Afrikan Queen pageant serves as a medium to fundraise for Concerned Belizean Women (CBW), a non-profit organization that advocates for women, children, and families who experience domestic and sexual abuse, as well as exploitation. With the funds collected, donations, scholarships, and financial aid will be provided to such persons.

However, according to Maryam Abdul-Qawiyy, the public relations officer of CBW and the Miss Afrikan Queen competition, this pageant was created to focus on black beauty and acceptance of oneself, “after seeing the need in the community to come back to self, being a person of African descent, to not fall victim to unhealthy or Eurocentric beauty standards that they need to look a certain way in order to feel confident, have self-esteem, feel beautiful about yourself.” “You need to accept yourself as you are. We wanted to highlight that within the black community because they saw a problem with young girls wanting to look another way instead of accepting their own inner beauty and outer blackness,” shared Qawiyy.

Crysel Gabourel, Miss Ethiopia, who was on Krem’s Wake Up Belize morning show on Thursday morning along with three other contestants, further explained, “Too often we find that our society looks down on us just because of the color of our skin, and this Miss Afrikan Queen pageant is something that goes towards fundraising for other people that have been unfortunate when it comes to hurricanes, and to help them with other situations like helping their children through school. It’s a great fundraising event, while uplifting our colonial country, and what better way to do that than to show and teach them that there is another outlet. There is a way to promote our blackness; there is a way to promote our culture, our heritage.”

And although an interview is required for the selection of each contestant, this community-based pageant is open to the participation of all women of African descent.

“Some of the women in the pageant are mothers, they are teachers. At some pageants you can’t be a mother, you can’t be married, but we embrace all women for who they are completely,” said Qawiyy.

The Miss Afrikan Queen 2023 pageant commences at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night when tickets will be on sale at the door. Tickets for the downstairs/ lower tier will cost $25 for adults and $10 for children, while the upstairs/top tier is $10 for adults and $5 for children.