Events for growing African-Australian population pave way for new social identities
Miss Africa Perth organiser Huguette Nkashama said the event has helped pave the way for a greater representation and celebration of African nations through a colourful showing of the continent’s manifold fashion, history and dance.
“It celebrates Africa in the mainstream Australian context as the African community is still an emerging community and most people probably feel they are underrepresented in terms of culture and our diversity,”
Mrs Nkashama said. “Obviously, you can’t represent all of Africa in two or three hours, but it provides people with the highlights of the continent so they can learn more.”
She also said events like Miss Africa Perth offer a much-needed positive portrayal of Africa in Australia, countering the often negative stories in mainstream media.
The competition was established in 2006 to build greater awareness of the vibrancy of the continent, bringing the various African communities and greater Australian public together.
Mrs Nkashama said one of the key reasons behind the success of the Miss Africa Perth event is that it enables contestants to develop greater associations with their wider community.
“Although some of the contestants are African by birth, they probably would have come to Australia when they were very young, so the whole Miss Africa journey provides a point of connection back to Africa for them,” Mrs Nkashama said.
“It’s a chance for the 16 selected girls to make a difference in their community and obviously then, represent their country. “But, it’s also not just for Africans, it’s for people who are interested in Africa and to get a snippet of who we are as people.”
Winner of the 2018 Miss Africa Perth event Gladys Seruga previously struggled with her identity but the event allowed her to represent both Uganda and Australia, as well as other young people who are facing the same problems.
“I feel like as African-Australians there are a lot of problems that we go through that aren’t really talked about, especially for the community who are born in Australia,” she said.
“I am excited to help other people realise that it’s okay to use time to discover yourself and your identity.”