Africa is best known for its wildlife, wide and long spanning desert, historic rivers and home of the earliest civilization on Earth, but in pageantry, it is the least known continent with many factors affecting its participation moreso its attempt to succeed in many international beauty competitions.
African countries ably succeeded only twice in Miss Earth’s 16-year history: 1. In 2002 when Kenya’s Winfred Omwakwe was awarded the Miss Earth-Air title who later on succeeded as Miss Earth when Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Dzejla Glavovic was dethroned for not fulfilling her duties; and 2. In 2008 when Tanzania’s Miriam Odemba was crowned Miss Earth-Air.
A number of Top 8 and Top 16 finish were achieved but these were consolation placements only to appease the clamor for a more diversified list of semi-finalists.
- 2004 – Egypt’s Arwa Gouda, Top 16
- 2005 – Tanzania’s Rehema Sudi, Top 16
- 2006 – Egypt’s Meriam George, Top 8
- 2007 – Nigeria’s Stacey Garvey and South Africa’s Bokang Montjane, Top 16
- 2008 – Nigeria’s Ezinne Uko, Top 16
- 2009 – South Africa’s Chanel Grantham, Top 16
- 2010 – South Africa’s Nondjebo Dzingwa, Top 7
- 2011 – Zimbabwe’s Thandi Muringa, Top 8
- 2012 – South Africa’s Tamerine Jardine, Top 8
- 2013 – Mauritius’ Virginie Dorza and South Africa’s Ashanti Mbanga, Top 16
- 2014 – Zambia’s Cartier Zagorski, Top 16
- 2015 – Mauritius’ Katia Moochooram, Top 16
- 2016 – South Africa’s Nozipho Magagula, Top 16
In 2007, 2008 and 2013 when a bigger number of African countries participated in Miss Earth, two semi-finalist slots were given to the African contingent. These were the times when Rwanda, Congo DR, Congo R.O, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Liberia were able to alternately participate in Miss Earth.
A few special awards were also bestowed to some of the African delegates: Miss Friendship – Yodit Getahun, Miss Earth Ethiopia 2003; Beauty for A Cause Award – Bokang Montjane, Miss Earth South Africa 2007; Best in National Costume – Evelyne Almasi, Miss Earth Tanzania 2009 and Miss Talent – Dominique Mann, Miss Earth South Africa 2011. A few more awards recently were awarded to some African Countries when the Miss Earth pageant started to implement its group and continental competitions. These includes: Miss Friendship – Filiane Mayombo Kound, Miss Earth Gabon 2013 and a back to back gold medal award in the Best in National Costume Category (Africa) to Miss Earth Uganda 2015 and 2016.
African franchises for Miss Earth are best known for their environmental works. Notable partnerships with their respective governments and a number of Non-Governmental Organizations were successfully made and these produced successful initiatives in countries like South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia and Zambia.
But despite their remarkable environmental advocacy, African delegates were often left unnoticed by the international panel of judges. Some experts pointed out some factors which could have hindered their attempts in clinching a spot in the finals:
- Most black delegates are not that aggressive. There is that inferiority complex that they feel whenever they are already in the international pageant.
- Though they are more environmentally aware, they do not possess the complete package needed to shine in a beauty competition. Lame catwalk skills, underwhelming physique and not-so-good competition wardrobes left them unnoticed in important competition events.
- With the rumored continental slots provided in selecting the Top 16, there is a need to encourage more African countries to participate in Miss Earth: Ethiopia, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, the two Congos, Tanzania, Liberia, Cameroon and Chad must stage a comeback to ensure a few more slot for the African continent.