Students celebrate inclusivity at Miss Africa Pageant

Students celebrate empowerment, inclusivity at Miss Africa Pageant

Louisa Williams took home the crown as Miss Ghana-Liberia at the African Student Union's first Miss Africa Pageant Saturday night.
Published: February 24, 2020
The winning contestants of the Miss Africa Pageant at Goldstein Auditorium on Feb. 22, 2020
Miss Nigeria, Miss Ghana-Liberia and Miss Guinea on stage after the pageant.

Three students competed in the African Student Association’s first-ever Miss Africa pageant Saturday night. The women represented the countries Ghana-Liberia, Nigeria and Guinea.

Contestants showcased their cultural garments and traditions and the goals they have for Africa and for people of color at Syracuse University.

In her opening remarks, ASU’s President Nneka Akukwe said the organization stands with #NotAgainSU for “fighting the good fight,” and added that ASU also stands for women’s empowerment.

“Women’s empowerment is the new black,” said Akukwe.

The night was divided into five segments: introductions, career goals, talent, tradition and question and answer. Between segments, student musicians and dance troupes, like ONEWORLD, performed on stage.

Ultimately, Miss Ghana-Liberia, represented by junior Louisa Williams, was crowned Miss Africa.

Throughout the night, Williams’s central message was that black is beautiful.

“I want to be Miss Africa to show that, regardless of the complexity of your beauty, sis, it’s still beauty,” said Williams.

For the talent portion, Williams delivered a poem she wrote about embracing her black skin as she grows older.

“If you think being a woman is hard, try being a black one,” said Williams in her poem ‘The Skin That Never Sheds.’

Williams, a dual-major in Whitman and the IT School, is a first-generation college student. She moved from Africa to the United States at six years old.

“I’m a Liberian girl who is the youngest researcher on her research team in the i-School,” said Williams. “I want to utilize the skillsets I’m learning in both my fields, and I see myself working in logistics at a non-profit, or even opening up my own business one day.”

Miss Nigeria, represented by sophomore Ifechukwu Uche-Onyilofor, and Miss Guinea, represented by freshman Nafissatou Camara also competed in the pageant. A panel of three past ASU executive board members judged the contestants. The panel was comprised of SU alumnae Tiffany Sarpong and Chloe Etti, and current SU senior Stacy Omosa.

For the question and answer portion, a judge asked Camara how she would motivate the black community in the climate of #NotAgainSU. Camera encouraged them to keep fighting.

“Change is going to come,” Camera said. “I would also like to remind them that they are not alone, and we are all together in this fight.”