It is a known fact that African models do not have it easy in the modeling industry. Why is that African models always have to work twice as hard to get only half of the reward in comparison to models from other continents and ethnic backgrounds? The answer to that question may be the unwelcoming nature of the beauty industry towards dark-skinned models, but we must not forget the agencies and pageants in Africa that exploit our their very own.
Miss Fashion Week Africa (MFWA) is the latest example of a beauty pageant in Africa that got away with holding winnings from their pageant from the winners. In November 2016, almost one year ago, the Nigerian company announced Adama Jobe (Gambian),Kamwine Rosette (Ugandan), RaunaKapoffi (Namibian) and Vanessa Kilem (Congolese)as the four winners of Miss Fashion Week Africa, a pageant which promised a cash prize of $3000, a trip round to Miami, USA and official crowning to each of the four contestants.
Today, after a whole year the winners of the pageant are yet to receive any of the mentioned prizes, with an exception of the trip to Miami. This is not the first-time models are given vague promises and then left without legal basis to defend themselves. The four models spent the entire year in the dark, looking for ways to communicate with the organizers of the pageant in search of ways to bring their various platforms to life.
However, all efforts to communicate with the MFWA team was a complete fail which is what led to the biggest campaign of the various social media platform of the beauty queens. The models opened up about their share experience on Sunday 12th November via Facebook Live with a large audience, the hashtag #ProtectOurGirlshas been trending since. They put forth their message whilst making it very clear that their objective is to protect the upcoming models and to break the culture of silence. According to Kawmine Rosette, they are calling upon the new contestants to withdraw from the pageant to avoid wasting their time becoming subjects of an exploitation.
The Congolese representative Vanessa Kilem who could not join the live stream emphasised through comments their common desire to prevent such exploitation and ill-treatment from occurring again in the very near future, to them it is more about saving their fellow sisters in the industry.
‘This has absolutely very little to do with the cash prize, $3000 can be easily earned in modelling gigs here and there, however, it is about the fact that beauty pageant companies think it is okay to get away with treating ladies whichever way that pleases them. Beauty Queens have dreams but these companies crush our dreams when they treat us like we do not matter’, said the Gambian representative Adama Jobe.
The Miss Fashion Week Africa Team has gone on to organise a new pageant in 2018 and already models are alarmed by the contracts they have been presented with. The new contestants are to cater for their own flight tickets and accommodation to the US, yet they are bound by very strict terms that restrict them from doing any work outside the scoop of MFWA. ‘’Our flight tickets to the US were catered for last year, however, we did not receive our winnings or any form of support to start work in our various countries. My advice would be to stay away from this pageant and any pageant with vague terms.’’ Rauna, the Namibian representative advised upcoming models to avoid falling into a dangerous trap.
Africa models are already struggling enough in the beauty industry, the last thing that our Melanin Queens need- are drawbacks like these ones. Do you stand with the ladies? Use the Hashtag #IstandWithTheLadies and#ProtectOurGirls to share this article.