Miss Independence Beauty Pageant

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I woke up super stressed on Sunday April 27th because I had to get my hair braided to host the second annual Miss Independence Beauty Pageant sponsored by STAR BEER at Family Kingdom on Lumbley Beach. I left the house and chartered a taxi to drop me off at Neneh’s Salon next to Plan B. I had already called Nancy the managress aka one of favorite people in Freetown to inform her that i was coming to get my hair done. She then had to call Emeka the guy who does the braiding at the shop. Emeka is a feisty little fellah of no more than 5ft with 3 children….he’s a bit effeminate and he’s asked me to look out for a white woman for him, “preferably an old one” 🙂

I got to the salon at about 11:30am and i figured that worst case scenario i would be out of there by 5pm. Which was enough time for me to go home relax a bit and be at Family Kingdom by 7pm. At 2:30pm my hair was still undone because Emeka had gone to mammy Coka at a lady’s house. I WAS FURIOUS to say the least…I had woken up early only to come and wait and wait and wait. Everytime i looked in the mirror and saw my nappy hair starring back at me…the vexation just increased.

While I was waiting to get my hair done, my co-MC for the Pageant Mr Edward Bockarie a very nice chap with a British/Salone twang stopped by to lay the final touches on the program etc…He’s tall, slim, dreads, a whole lot of gentleman. We love Edward

When Emeka showed up he was full of excuses…”I had come this morning and no one was here so i thought i could just go and do this lady’s hair quick quick wan”. Finally he started to plant my hair…en me bin don noh say im no go done. Feelin the pressure Emeka wan cam put rubbish an me ade…thirty mins after he started i had to tell him to stop. I was angry, tired, frustrated, and regretting my acceptance to host the show. A bigin memba say not to lek say dem day pay mi…way ah day cam kill me sef pan “nyanga na pain”. I half hearted contemplated the idea of calling the lady incharge of the program to tell her that she had to find someone else because I couldnt do it. One of the ladies in the salon suggested that i put a weave on my head. ” No oh ah noh go able do that, it is against my religion”. It isnt really put i find it difficult to sew hair on to my head, it is something I have never felt comfortable doing.

After a bit of sulking Emeka began to braid my hair again. We finished a little after 7pm. I hurried home to shower and get ready. Adama spent the entire day by my side, patiently waiting with me at the hair salon and then cancelling her plans to go elsewhere to help me get ready. We got ready at my house, thankfully we had Koroma Electricity so no worries…Light Day

I was going to change 3 times during the show so that i could have the opportunity to show of as many of Aschobi Designs dresses as possible…….but knowing i wouldnt have anyone to help me change I settled on two outfits. A long flowing yellow sundress that criss crossed at the back and a gold, and purple halter I would change into later on in the show.

Adama and I headed to the Pageant and we met Edward outside waiting to escort in. We were going to be asked to pay when Simeon (one of the organisers) motioned for us to be let thru. There were people already seated but it was evident that the show was far from its beginning. Some of the pageant contestants could be seen walking around the almost entirely female audience. Friends and family of participants were there to cheer there favorites on.

When the show finally started it must have been close to 11pm at night. By this time I had been there for over 2 hours and i was tired and a bit frustrated not to mention that i had on heels. Edward and I came on to the stage and welcomed the guests and did some small small talk before I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to give speech, followed by a message from Kobe Walker, marketing director for the sponsors of the show STAR beer. Finally we were able to get on with the show and introduce the judges who ranged from the managress of Lagoonda to a female barrister, a rep from star, a Jazz musician from Ghana, and a business man who i cant seem to remember right now. Before the contestants finally came on stage there was a long break with different comedians and musicians performing for the audience…some of it was good and the rest was just nonsense.

Finally finally the ladies started to line up….there were to be five different changes ranging from casual, formal, african, swimsuit, to ball gown…each district had its contestant…so there were twelve of them. They were beautiful, young and fresh…from Bo, Bombali, Bonth etc…

The outfits were mostly locally made and some of them were very interesting for how good they were while others were interesting like wow…what is that?

As the night progressed the show dragged on and on and on and on. I was totally exhausted. When we finally got to the short and long question response section, one thing became clear about out pageant contestants; they look really good 🙂
As for speaking, Oh Lord!!! It was entertaining to hear them manipulate the queens language and still manage to make sense…Lord have mercy…what r we teachin our kids in school???

By 3am, the program had still not ended and the heat and bright lights were getting to me. I was dehydrated, exhausted, and it was only a matter of time before nausea kicked in.
While we waited for the contestants to strut up to the front and back to us to pick their questions, i found myself leaning on Edward for support as i could no longer hold myself up. Several times i walked off camera just to catch a breath of fresh air.

I reached my peak…..I was trying to make it thru the last 3 contestants before i got of the stage but my head started to spin and I knew that i had to sit down. It occurred to me that if i didnt sit i would faint and i didnt want to ruin the show for the girls etc….

I handed Edward the papers i was holding on to and walked off the stage and sat on the steps. My put my head between my knees trying to breath…i remember being told that you cant faint if sitting down….but when i felt i was blacking out and i couldnt breath i tried to stand up in panic.

Next thing i know, hands are lifting me from the ground. Chaos and confusion everyone’s asking what happened to the MC…she fainted…my eyes were closed…but i could hear the voices. Someone unzipped my dress and my hands quickly reached my zipper to pull it up. My eyes may have been closed and i felt sick as hell but i was not going to be undressed in public.

I asked for water, i felt parched. I opened my eyes and the water was handed to me…to my left and right i was being fanned. Concerned faces of women my age and others old enough to be my mother surrounded me. I heard someone say ” i am a student at College of medicine, dont give her water”. It was too late, it was in my hands and i was going to put it to my mouth. Almost as soon as i felt my thirst disappear i felt my body rejecting the water…my hand proved an unworthy candidate for what came next. Vomit!!! I vomiting everything that was in my stomach right there and then. But as soon as i vomited, i felt so much better. The crowd lessened and people walked over and on my puke like it was nothing. I was amazed that no one made a face or comment…they were even happy that i vomited…like ” much better, u go feel fine now”

After a little while i was asked if i wanted to send for me friends. I said yes. Mahawa and Adama were soon informed of my condition. Mahawa came first…looking disturbed and surprised. She helped me up…and collected my things. Soon Adama was informed as well and we all three still looking fabulous after the vomit and passing out headed to the car. Hamid drove us home…i crashed on the sofa…they were on the bed.

I spent the rest of the day on the sofa feeling too exhausted to even feel sorry for myself. I decided then and there i needed a vacation…called my mom…and i told her i needed to come to Accra for some R&R

Independence 2007 I was with Ishmaeh Beah at Lava Gina in NYC….Independence 2008…i fainted and vomited at a beauty pageant in Freetown, Salone

Independence 2009….hmmm….i really wonder