a night i will never forget

2014, Culture, Family and Friends, Fashion, March

miss sierra leone.

i’m not sure i will ever have the right words to adequately describe the night of the pageant. i’ve been putting off this post for some time for that very reason. from the moment we danced our way through “Red Card” by D2 as we introduced ourselves to the 700+ audience and 6 judges, to the moment miss zimbabwe and i held hands as the called for 1st runner-up and the winner…it was more awesome than “a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out of bacon, riding a unicorn with a light saber as a horn, on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on mars, while engulfed in flames”. {yes i found that description somewhere on the world wide web…it was the best description i had come across}.

there a A LOT of pictures and if i could share them with you all i would {actually i might upload them on to flickr…watch this space}.

if you knew me when i was younger you would know that  i was very much an introvert. i went up to say a prayer at church one time, around the age of 16, and when i got back to my seat my brother leaned over and asked “why were you breathing so heavily?” because i was really nervous bro but thanks, i now feel just, ya know, slightly worse.

at family parties, when meeting and spending time with aunts and uncles, i was the quiet one. mostly due to my lack of sounding genuinely sierra leonean {imagine a british/african wannabe accent if you can}. i wasn’t comfortable speaking krio and i would get teased for speaking english, so i preferred not to talk.

even meeting new people {adults mostly} i was quiet as a mouse, getting on stage was a whole different ballgame and i’ve thrown up a fair few times out of sheer stage fright.

where am i going with this? i think i needed to give you a backdrop, an idea, of just how much this was the biggest milestone for me. even more than winning amazing prizes and coming in as 1st runner-up.

for the first time in my life, i did something scary and i wasn’t scared. not one little bit. i enjoyed every single moment. if you would have told me 5 years ago that i would participate in a miss africa utah pageant, i would have laughed in your face. and i mean the of the cackling kind.

 and yet here we are. 3 weeks and one atlantic ocean later, i’m sharing all of this with you. anyway enough of my musings. to the pictures!

{thank you to my amazing bestie ema, of our love in bloom, for capturing the night! plus pictures from miss africa utah on facebook.}

for the introduction, as i mentioned before, we danced to “red card” by d2. we were all in red dresses for this. the fun had begun!

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after the intro dance it was time to showcase our traditional outfits. it was phenomenal to see each of the girls, they were all so beautiful. and i learnt a lot about these nations, for example, i didn’t know mauritius was heavily influenced by Hinduism {as you will see in her traditional (pink) outfit below}.

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talent time! i’m definitely a “shower singer” and dancing is reserved for me, myself and i {also let’s face it, i felt braver but not that brave}. this was fun to watch during rehearsals, from singing and drumming to dancing and poem reciting {which i chose to do}, so much incredible culture!

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then time for the judge’s interview questions…i was actually a little nervous about this one. although we were given the questions beforehand to research our answers, i was more worried about my mind going blank. and of course i got the question i was most nervous about “how do u.s. gun laws affect your country?” but i got through it and by this time of the night we were running on something!

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and finally the evening gowns. shopping for this was way more fun than i anticipated. it might have also been for the fact that the first dress i tried on i knew was “the one”.

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i. absolutely. loved. it. the poofiness. the colour. the style. did i say the poofiness? i ended up renting the dress {can you imagine trying to fit that into a suitcase to take back to england?}. if you’re looking for a gown for a special evening i highly recommend the dress garden in bountiful, utah.

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this isn’t all of us {there were 9 of us in total} but we were then all brought out on stage for the prizes from the night plus the announcing of the top 5.

i won best ambassador…

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and most popular!! which was hilarious because i heard my friends screaming before it was announced {it was a ‘text in’ type voting on the night and the results were posted up on the screen right before it was announced}.

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and then one by one the top 5 were announced…

and here we are!

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and then…questions from the judges. these we couldn’t prepare for. they were randomly asked from a particular judge for each of us. they were allowed to ask us anything.

luckily my question wasn’t too bad, i was basically asked about where success lay for a woman, motherhood or a career? both of course! and that’s how i answered.

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we were then escorted off the stage as the judges deliberated. about a mighty 45mins later we were called back on and from 4th runner up to the winner we were called up!

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this is the moment where it was announced that i was the first runner-up which meant miss zimbabwe would take the crown.

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here is brent and i. he is my brother from another mother! we were in the same mission {and same district for about a year!} and he kindly drummed for me as i recited my poem. got a lotta love for this fella!

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and of course sweet, sweet ema. she is one of those best friends that, well, we don’t have to see each other for a while but you just know that you have each other’s backs. if it means flying to frankfurt to be at her wedding i would do it in a heartbeat. it means her coming to support me at the pageant {and taking these amazing pictures!} while i know she has a busy schedule with it being her final semester at byu. we were also in the same mission and i served with her for 6 glorious {i don’t know how she put up with me} months.

anyway, i could go on for days.

backstage was madness. A LOT of running back and forth. trying to stay sweat-free in the process {BIG BIG thank you to the paul mitchell make-up team for keeping me fresh!} having to toss body issues to the side as we all got changed in the same dressing room…plus the dozens of assistants and helpers.

thank you to gloria {the amazing pageant director}, jane and gifty for their endless patience with us girls week after week, rehearsal after rehearsal.

thank you to the wonderful, amazing and incredible girls who participated with me. their stories are amazing and one day i might be able to share them with you. i would like to.

it was a phenomenal experience learning about the beautiful countries that sit on that diverse and dynamic continent.

thank you to everyone who came to support me on the night, and for all the love and support to received beforehand.

a special thank you to my roommates and sista’s from another mista, korinne and kristen, for their patience and support from driving me to collect dresses, sweeping up hair after weaves, clearing tables for a dance floor and putting up with loud anxious pageant contestants the night before {which by the way was so much fun! with miss ethiopia and miss zimbabwe – amazing girls!}.

i’ve probably missed out some things {it is 2am now}…so there might be a part 2. maybe.

i might wear my crown and sash to a job interview or two. ya know. transferable skills and all that.

m.

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