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Bengaluru's window to Africa
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Over a dozen young African girls, flaunted their beauty and talent in the Miss Africa Bangalore beauty contest which was held in Banaswadi recently. Organised by One Team Africa, an organisation that aims to bring all Africans in Bengaluru together, the contest is the first of its kind in the city. Contestants, who were mostly students, walked the ramp with different attires including traditional wear, which showed the diversity of the African continent. Speaking about the objective behind this initiative, Deborah Mbathe, one of the organisers said, "Africa is mistaken to be a country. Seldom do people understand the fact that it is a continent with about 54 countries. Africans in Bangalore are from different nations with different traditions and culture. Hence, this is an effort to provide them an opportunity to get together, showcase their talents and represent their countries as well."

Eleven contestants qualified for the final round after a number of challenges. The first one was cultural performances from their respective nations. The next challenge was a debate on the role of women in Africa which was then followed by a football match to test the physical strength of the girls. The fourth and the most tempting round was to cook African dishes. However, the final one was the toughest, where the contestants were taken to an orphanage to help children there and show how well they get to know them cutting through cultural and linguistics barriers.

It was a great experience for Cinthya Nguefack from Cameroon, Aeronautical engineering student and winner of the 'Miss Africa Bangalore' title. "My whole world stopped when my country's name was being announced and hearing my name never made me this happy. I am the first ever Miss Africa Bangalore and I am conscious of it every single second. I am going to try my best to use this title to raise awareness on self acceptance of Africans here. We hope the Indian community will realise that there is nothing to fear or hate and also to see how beautiful we are in and out," she said after being crowned.

For Frances Odunze, first runner up of the contest from Nigeria, it was a great opportunity to make new friends with different cultures and to improve her personality. "I might not be where I want to be but I am definitely not where I used to be. My journey throughout the contest really changed me a lot and has made me more confident. This is just the first step of my journey and there is more to come," she added.

The contestants also had to answer various questions of the judges to prove that they were beauties with brains. Apart from beauty, confidence, knowledge, elegance, physical fitness, intelligence, understanding and vocabulary were also taken into consideration. Peace Uzoigwe, one of the judges of the contest points out "This initiative has helped to redefine beauty, breaking stereotypes and to truly celebrate diversity. It has made the girls develop confidence and take responsibilities of their future at a young age."

On speaking about the success of Miss Africa Bangalore, Ibrahim, another organiser of the contest said "Our objective has been achieved. We have brought a lot of people from different nations like Nigeria, D.R.Congo, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Namibia together. We are definitely planning to take more such steps in the future and will continue to bring Africa closer."

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