Thirty-three to vie in pageant set to focus on African culture

Richard Layne

By Joanna Dhanraj

Saturday May 27, saw the sashing of the Mr and Miss Guyana African Roots contestants at the Pegasus Hotel where 33 beauties and hunks gave short introduction of themselves and the African country they represent before being sashed.

The event was pulled off through the collaboration of Honest Illusions (a New York-based Production Company spearheaded by Brian Roberts) and Unique Arts Productions (a dance group directed by Kelton Jennings). The show opened with the national anthem, then a power point presentation of both groups highlighting what they have been doing for a number of years and shedding some light on the week of activities set to commence on August 7 and end on August 13, the night of the pageant.

This led to the Unique Dancers putting on a flawless performance to the beat of African drums.

Then one by one the contestants in the four categories; teen male and female and young adults male and female, took to the stage introducing themselves to a packed audience.

Contestants were tasked with choosing an African name they thought suited them well and an African country to go with it. Outfitted in their African print they boldly described themselves and delivered smooth memorized speeches, with even some of the most difficult names pronounced with vigour and ease. They spoke of the natural resources of the countries they represent and the values that followed through with the Africans wherever they went, the battles they fought, of their heritage, shared philosophies and promised the audience a night they’ll never forget come pageant night.

Some of the countries represented are: Egypt, Angola, Uganda, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Madagascar, South Africa, Namibia, Gambia and Ghana.

Contestants for Miss/Mr Guyana African Roots Teens beginning with the females are: Tonia Harris, Aliyah Noibille, Felicity Daniels, Nia Jacobis, Renita Jordan, Tsheia Wickham, Shania Chapman and Jamila Whittaker. The males are: Andrew Archer, Joshua Liverpool, Andre DaSilva, Desmond Fernandes, Jerad Spencer, Jeremiah Payne, Carl Peterkin and Richard Layne. Mr Guyana African Roots Young Adults are: Gebriel George, Dexter Gardener, Stephen Johnson, Ian Campbell, Ian Andrew, Michael Sam, Kurt Walcott, Kevin Reynolds and Ronaldo Myers and the Miss Guyana African Roots Young Adults: Chrisann Stephens, Yousanna Pompey, Keisha Brazh, Rishawna Lambert, Shanima Muna, Katifa Leitch, Colleena Piper and Niekita McFarlene.

In a later interview, Jennings said the week of activities is a way of reviving the African culture and will include a debate competition, an African Food Fest, Fashion Show and Art Exhibition, Dance Competition and Production, pageant nights and the grand finale of an award ceremony. Venue for the week of activities is the Theatre Guild, but may be subject to change.

The teen pageants are set for August 11, while the young adults will vie the following night.

For the next few weeks The Scene will be introducing the 33 contestants as they prepare for the pageants.

This week we bring to you contestants from the Mr Guyana African Roots 2017 Teens.

Nineteen-year-old Andre DaSilva will be representing Zimbabwe under the African name ‘Treasure Muchonagumbo Ajubay’. Andre is an aspiring doctor who is currently doing medical studies at the Venezuelan Institute and hopes to later pursue a degree in medicine at the University of Guyana (UG). For more than two years he’s been volunteering at the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association. A professional model, Andre is attached to the Kast Talent Management and has participated in more than 15 fashion shows including Guyana Fashion Week. This ambitious young man is also an actor, dabbles in a bit of designing and has recently been creating his line of Afro-centric accessories. This Aquarius is always cheerful and enjoys spoken word poetry, singing, acting and making people happy. Come pageant night, he promises to bring his ‘A game’. “Expect to be amazed,” he said.

Desmond ‘Ketana Njambi’ Fernandes is a second-year student at UG studying Public Management. The aspiring teacher is currently a flight attendant which he has been thoroughly enjoying for the past three years. He has knowledge in Chinese Mandarin but will be giving a tour of Kenya on pageant night, the country he describes as the “cradle of humanity”. Desmond said, “I think that our African young men are placed under such stereotype of being useless and I want to break that showing them that a true African Guyanese teen is talented and willing to give a helping hand.” The 19-year-old Capricorn enjoys dancing (contemporary, ballet, jazz, soca and Afro-Caribbean), reading history, romance and mystery novels and cooking new recipes he comes across.

Nineteen-year-old Richard ‘Mukasa Ocheng Jeje Odongo’ Payne is representing the country of Uganda. The UG student is currently studying medical technology and plans on later studying medicine to become a doctor. He is a model attached to a Bow Tie Boutique ‘Rawl’s Décor’. He describes himself as a calm and approachable person who enjoys cooking (roti and curry and cook-up rice), visiting the seawall and travelling. “I’m youthful and ready for any challenge and should I become the new king I’ll have programmes set up in schools that will help to revive the African culture. Not being biased, programmes will include the other five races,” the Aries born said.

At 17 Jeremiah ‘Prince Amunra’ Payne is pursuing computer studies at Global Technology. Still yet undecided, the aspiring model hopes have a career in medicine or immigration. He will be representing the country of Egypt and says should he win the Mr Guyana African Roots 2017 teen title he would see to it that more is done for the African culture in Guyana. A Scorpio, Jeremiah describes himself as a kind-hearted and loving person. His favourite colours are blue, black and turquoise and in his free time he enjoys swimming and watching “Empire”.

Sixteen-year-old Joshua ‘Tobi Ogwando Abioye Aghene’ Liverpool is the youngest of the teen contestants, but exudes just as much confidence as the older competitors. The fourth former of South Ruimveldt Secondary is representing Angola. An aspiring teacher, Joshua says, “I am a caring, understanding young man who is confident that I have what it takes to be the next Mr Guyana African Roots, because I believe I’m the one to revive our culture.” The Virgo loves to listen to R&B and soul music and read adventure and mystery novels.

Andrew ‘Amare Vonker’ Archer is representing Malawi. The 19-year-old is an aspiring model and designer who describes himself as someone who is down-to-earth, observant, friendly yet straightforward. The Virgo is currently what he calls “a die-hard tailor” who in his free time enjoys cooking different recipes. “I believe I possess what it takes to not only represent Malawi but Guyana as well,” Andrew said.

For more information, Director of Unique Arts Dance Group Kelton Jennings, can be contacted via numbers 661-0573/656-7499 and Brian Roberts of Honest Illusions on 718-218-4940 via Whatsapp.

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