Pauline Long: "I decided to introduce a whole new concept, entrepreneurship in the beauty pageant world"
This year those who aspire to be crowned Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK are not only expected to showcase their beauty and interest in helping Africa but most importantly their entrepreneurial skills.
Each winner will walk away with a guaranteed cash prize of £2000, and the amount may even go up with the support of generous sponsors.
For the first time, this year’s winners will be chosen by both judges and the audience, says Ms. Pauline Long, Founder of Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK.
The grand finale will take place on 3rd July at the Central Hall Westminster, Great Hall, in London. This year’s event is being supported by various companies including Jungle Dream, Dubwise Promotions, Deroots Promotions, UGpulse.com, Msanii Music, Club Volt, Club Valentino, Panama Bar, The AfroNews and many more.
Award-winning celebrity hairstylist Verona White with clients like Katie Price (Jordan), June Sarpong and Trisha Goddard has the glamorous job of styling Miss East Africa UK contestants.
In this exclusive with The AfroNews, Pauline explains the objectives of Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK beauty pageants, their achievements, and how this year’s event will be a totally different one from the past ones.
Pauline, when did you found Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK beauty pageants?
Miss East Africa UK was founded in 2006 and our inaugural event was held in Charing Cross with great support from the East African community in the UK. After two successful years of Miss East Africa UK, Mr East Africa UK was founded in 2008.
What are the objectives of Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK?
As it’s an entrepreneur’s world our main mission is to help lay foundations for young East Africans to successfully step into the various entrepreneurs clubs. We aim at helping the young East African women and men enlarge their vision and foster an image of victory, success and achievements.
We provide opportunities for East African young women and men to build up on confidence, goals and achievements in this competitive world.
Whilst promoting and upholding their culture, we guide them towards the right direction to meet influential contacts in the society. We are also a voice for African children especially the underprivileged ones.
What are some of the main achievements of Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK pageants?
We successfully introduced SHOUT CAMPAIGN- a programme that feeds underprivileged children especially those who live on the streets of various East African towns and cities. So far the programme feeds street children regularly in Kenya and Uganda. We intend to extend it to other parts of Africa. Besides the campaign, every year the winners tour East African children’s charities that we support. We deliver to them goods and funds. The pageants have also helped launch careers of various participants in the fashion and entertainment industries. Some have become entrepreneurs due to opportunities given to them by the pageants.
Why have you decided to give cash prize to this year’s winners?
There is a need to invest in young ambitious East Africans, most of who are very enterprising. They are achievers and they deserve being given opportunities. The cash prize will assist them with their existing business ventures or brand new ideas.
I decided to introduce a whole new concept, entrepreneurship in the beauty pageant world. Normally winners or contestants are expected to make appearances at events or represent their countries as ambassadors and yet they have nothing to show as a personal or professional achievement.
It’s an entrepreneurs’ world and I think encouraging the contestants from a young age to set up businesses is a great initiative regardless of whether they win the cash prize or not.
What are the main differences between this year’s event and the past ones?
The 2010 contest is very different, diverse and exciting at the same time. Every year we promote beauty and philanthropy but this year as I’ve just said, we have added a new concept, that is, we are promoting entrepreneurship. We are trying to re-brand Africa as the continent to find beauty, philanthropists and young entrepreneurs as opposed to the usual image of a war-torn and poor continent.
The other difference is, in the past we selected male and female contestants from London and greater London, however for the first time we have done regional UK auditions in Birmingham, Manchester and Coventry. This year contestants come from as far as Scotland and Wales.
Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK contestants will not be required to wear bikinis/swimwear. Why?
This is purely for respect of the contestants. I believe beauty is not only judged by the type of figure or size a woman is. We recognise that African women and men come in different shapes, sizes and shades of colour so they don’t have to strip down to swimwear or bikini to prove they are beautiful. We recognise too that their families will be in the audience to support them. According to African values, especially where I come from, I wouldn’t be expected to parade in bikini in front of my mother, father and other relatives. This has also been a main concern for 99% of contestants when they register and audition to take part.
How does this year’s pageant stand out from the rest of the pageants worldwide?
Every beauty pageant has a purpose and a cause they support. As for Mr and Miss East Africa UK we are a voice for African children. However, the one thing every pageant has in common is the judging system whereby there is a panel that decides on the winners on the actual grand finals night.
Mr East Africa UK and Miss East Africa UK pageants are making history; I have introduced a system whereby everyone who purchases a ticket to come and support the contestants will have a 50% say on who should win, the other 50% will be left to the panel of 10 judges. The winners will be decided based on an equal decision by the judges and the audience.
Why have you decided to let the audience cast their vote on the night even though you have judges?
I appreciate the efforts and the presence of the judges but over the years after being in the panel as a judge at various beauty pageants and of course with my beauty pageants as an immediate example, I realised the audience were actually equally important as the judges. Majority of the audience were never happy with the judges’ decision.
The audience are usually eager to know who is going to represent them as an ambassador for East Africa and for this reason it’s only fair to give them a voice and the right to choose the winner. It’s a good idea and I won’t be surprised if other beauty pageants emulate it.
MR EAST AFRICA UK AND MISS EAST AFRICA UK 2010
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Somaliland and Eritrea.
Grand finals venue
Central Hall Westminster
Advance tickets only: £25
Tickets are available to buy online at www.misseastafrica.co.uk
By Stephen Ogongo