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Revival of Miss Gambia

Mar 4, 2016, 10:27 AM | Article By: Adam Jobe

It is generally believed that talent competitions started in Africa.

The great African kings used to select their wives from a parade of the most beautiful girls in the area. It was said Musa Molloh was fond of this practice and, in the present day, King Mswati III of Swaziland selects his wives in this fashion.

Speaking in an interview with Point Entertainment and Lifestyle recently at his office, Sheikh Omar Jallow, Director for Literature, Performing and Fine Arts at the National Center for Arts and Culture, said in The Gambia, the first recorded beauty pageant was organized by Roxy Vous at the ‘UAC Tennis Lawn’ in 1963, when the glamorous Joan Jahumpa (now Mrs. Joana Jahumpa Edi Njie) won what was then Miss Bathurst.

The famous Rico Jazz Band performed at the event, he said, adding that Alhaji Babou Sowe was the president and Mr George Gomez was the secretary general and organising secretary of the Roxy Vous.

He explained that in 1965, as part of The Gambia’s independence celebrations, the government included a Miss Independence Beauty Contest in the programme, following suggestions by the Metta Youth Club (named after the genie believed to be the Protector of the City of Banjul).

The Metta Youth Club was based in Fitzgerald (now JR Forster) Street, and among them were young dynamic youths like Serign Secka, Omar Gaye Manneh, Abdoulie Mbye, Lamin Bah, Ebou Taal, the late Baboucarr (Batch) John, SOB Njie, and OC Jallow.

Miss Independence was well organised at the independence gala and was one of the highlights of the celebrations.

The competition was won by Miss Elizabeth Thomas now Mrs Elizabeth Renner, who became Speaker of the National Assembly.

“At the moment we are trying to revive Miss Gambia again to bring it this year, and what we are doing right now is to get interested parties from different sectors who are in the art of pageantry organising fashion, like the Gambia Fashion Designers Association and private individuals like State of Mic, Vicky’s salon, all these are part and partners in the beauty pageant,” he said.

Motivated by the success of the Miss Independence pageant, the late Mr. Val Phatty, the then director of Social Welfare Department in Buckle (now ECOWAS Ave) Street, where the Fire Department is, in the 1989 contest was the last time BanZig International organized Miss Senegambia due to the dissolution of the Senegambia Confederation.

As a result of this and also the absence of Miss Gambia for almost five years, Gomis Promotion was registered and took over the organisation not only of Miss Gambia but Miss Tourism, Miss Elegance and Miss Jongama and, on two occasions, organised Miss Roots.

Jallow highlighted the constraints they are facing regarding the revival of the pageant, as Islam had some form of contradiction towards that, which is an impediment.

He said parents would not accept their young girls or the most potential young girls participating for religious reasons, and this could be an impediment.

Budgetary constraint is also another main issue, as the pageantry does not have any budget as they struggle to raise funds for the programme.

He also indicated that they are starting from the provinces, conducting the contestant from all the seven regions; and they will pick two contestants from all the seven regions which will constitute the finals in Banjul.