In February, the African Students Association (ASA) put on the Mr. and Ms. African Diaspora Contest 2013, and contestants were given the opportunity to showcase their roots and history. The contest featured special guest judge, Nanayaa Ampofo, who was a finalist in the Miss Ghana USA pageant. With lots of hard work, Jaanna Anaemereibe and Damilola Emuze were chosen as Mr. and Ms. African Diaspora. Her Campus Mizzou got the chance to learn about the contest and the winners.
Her Campus Mizzou: What exactly is the pageant/contest?
Jaanna Anaemereibe: The pageant was for participants to advocate their culture. The main mission was to provide enlightenment of your culture the best and who can really express themselves. “Diaspora” means to enlighten. This was the first time men could be in the contest, but the contest has been done before in 2010 and 2011.
Damilola Emuze: A contest where guys and girls picked different African countries to represent and advocate a specific thing that they wanted to change while performing talents and attempting to give off an elegant peaceful likeable persona.
HCM: Where are you from?
JA: I was born in DC and raised in St. Louis. I was classified as Nigerian because both my parents were raised in Nigeria, and they came over in the 1980’s.
De: Lagos, Nigeria
HCM: Do you refer to yourself as African?
JA: I usually say I’m Nigerian-American. I consider myself Nigerian. But people who say they are African American might not have exact knowledge of their ancestors.
DE: Yes of course, 100 percent born and raised!
HCM: What went into preparing for the pageant?
JA: Losing a lot of sleep and academic time. We would practice for two hours twice a week and sometimes on the weekends. We started in late September, but it got pushed back. So that’s six months.
DE: A lot of time! Practices for almost six hours every week, community service and attending meetings on top of creating extra time to work on our platforms.
HCM: What did it feel like to win?
JA: I was overwhelmed because I was surprised I won. I didn’t really process that I won until the next day when I saw my living room. There I saw the sash of my country and my crown. I felt honored and humbled that I actually had that type of title. Due to the fact that I’ve never been to Nigeria, I had to figure out and research what exactly is going on.
DE: It felt wonderful. I felt like I had accomplished something really big at Mizzou.
HCM: What did you take away from the experience?
JA: The bond. Everyone in the pageant were people I’ve seen but didn’t know. We helped each other out with our speeches, ideas, etc. even though we were still competing. At the end of the day, we wanted it to be the best show.
DE: I have become more confident. I feel like somewhat of an inspiration. It actually solidified my belief in myself after being able to share a bit of me with a bunch of others and having them actually care and understand.
HCM: What are your duties and aspirations after winning?
JA: There were no (winner’s) duties, but I’ve put some on myself. I was advocating the use of clean water and how that was important in Nigeria. I am definitely an activist. I am really considering going to Nigeria for winter break, and it will be good to see the culture.
DE: It is my duty to see that I actually reach the goals that I had set for myself as far as either becoming an anesthesiologist or a nephrologist so that I can give back to my country.
HCM: What other organizations are you involved in?
JA: ASA, Amnesty International, Grade A (mentoring local high school students), and I have a program I am working on in St. Louis with my friends. I also want to start a program called MFI (Molding Future Innovators). In due time it will happen. It will get the youth (11 kids through high school/early college) that will focus on gaining an identity for kids from poverty to wealthy kids. Schools teach you how to get a 9-5 (job). I want to be that after school program. I want to show you what you need to do to what you love.
DE: African Student Association and IMSD Express.