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Exclusive: Miss Africa USA 2010. Her thoughts as a Muslim on the Ground Zero Mosque

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Communications and Broadcasting Major, , 22, beat 31 other contestants to win the beauty pageant in Maryland. She is a Guinean Muslim and also winner of the Miss USA crown. Soumah’s victory comes at a time when the country is debating an issue that relates to Muslims all over the United States; the Ground zero mosque. Vibes sat with the Beauty Queen to discuss her win, her thoughts on ground zero mosque and her inspiration.

Congratulations on your win. It is no easy feat to compete against 300 applicants to be selected as one of 32 delegates and to make it all the way to the top as the winner of a very competitive pageant as the Miss Africa USA. What do you think made you stand out during this competition?

 

Miss Africa USA 2010 Delegates awaiting the announcement of the new Queen.

I must admit that all 32 delegates who made it to the finals were very beautiful and talented. It was the little things that made me stand out, such as my stage presence, eye contact, smile, involving my entire audience in everything I said or did on stage, and my confidence. I stayed focused the entire journey of the competition. It was a fun journey with the ladies…we had many laughs.

What was it like right before you were announced the winner?

Wow…I had a lot of different emotions going on inside of me. I was however, mostly nervous, yet expecting, while trying to stay calm and confident.

You did impress the judges. Now that you have risen to the top and earned the crown, what will you like to accomplish with your new role?

I will like to continue my platform of raising awareness of the ills of practices of () which cause several adverse effects to the health of a growing young female who is a victim of such practices. I hope to continue pushing for change and for the eradication of such practices in Guinea and other parts of the world. I will also be actively carrying out activities to educate especially the girl child in underserved communities in Guinea. My activities will range from supplying school supplies and a comfortable learning environment. I will also work with the non-profit organizations here in the US and in Guinea serving the community. I will be traveling to Guinea to work on my projects on the ground. I also plan bridge the gap between Africa and the US by encouraging and organizing trips to Africa and promoting cultural exchange. While I remain a fulltime student, I will be every involved in serving my community.

As a young woman rising to the top, how do you think you can empower other women?

African Women of today are fast becoming a part of the African society, and not just passive listeners and women who solely take instructions and are pushed around. While they remain respectful, they are strong, beautiful, smart and very talented. Who would have ever thought many years ago that an African country will one day have a woman as President? I see today’s African woman as one who does not wait to see change, but is part of making the change.

As a 22 year old, my stories may not be many, but as a strong African woman living in America from Guinea, my stories are vast. I have faced many challenges in life but never once did I give up. I always set my goals and work towards accomplishing them each time. I ask that every woman should give herself a purpose in life, be a voice in your community, stay true and dedicated and never fall short of what you believe, even when others tell you that you can’t…because you can!

 

Your win as Miss Africa USA 2010 comes around a time when the United States is engaged in a heavy debate about building a Mosque close to where September 11th attacks happened. There are those who say it is an insensitive move and others who argue that it is the constitutional right of the Muslims to build a Mosque there. As a Muslim, what are your thoughts on this debate?

As a Muslim and a good citizen I agree with the construction of the Mosque at ground zero. The United States of America is built on freedom and this includes religious freedom therefore all citizens have the right to practice their religion. We all need to be sensitive towards the families of the victims of 9/11, it was a huge loss for the United States of America and also for all religions. This sensitivity shouldn’t be used to go against our constitution. Terrorists are not Muslims because in Islam no one has the right to kill innocent people, so all Muslims shouldn’t have to suffer because of the actions of terrorists. Not letting this project happen in America will give victory to the terrorists.


4 THINGS YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT BEAUTY QUEEN FIFI SOUMAH

Her Inspiration: My Mother inspires me. She has taught me so much and provided me with the tools to navigate through life. She believes in me and supports my projects and dreams. Her never ending promise of love for me continuous to flow. She is everything I want to be. Mama, you are my number one fan!

Her Favorite Books: The “Qu’ran” because to me God is first in everything. My second favorite book is By Agatha Christie “And then there were none” and the third is about my vampire lover Edward (laugh)”Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer.

Her Favorite Guinean Dish: My favorite Guinean dish is “konkweh”, which is made out of smoked fish cooked with palm oil. Yummy!!!

What she loves about Guinea: The food and hospitality of the Guinean people.

What she will change about Guinea: I will give a voice to the younger generation and the women. I believe we stand to have a better Guinea and Africa as a whole with new ideas from the youths as legislators and with our mothers taking their managerial skills from the homes into other sectors of the country.

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2 Comments

  1. masade

    August 26, 2010 at 8:49 am

    she is so beautifull!!!!! Congratulations!!!!

  2. Sagbu

    January 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

    “As a Muslim and a good citizen I agree with the construction of the Mosque at ground zero. The United States of America is built on freedom…”

    It really annoys the heck out of me when people from who are not of American heritage try to tell people what the hell the US was “built on”. The US was built on SLAVERY and colonialism, on the BACKS, BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS of Africans who later became what are now the ethnic group African-Americans. The US was “built” on the all out enslavement and genocide of Native Americans. It was built on theft, slavery, torture, and barbarism.

    It was NOT built on “freedom”. What does that ridiculous statement even mean?? Save the propaganda, please. Let’s base our conversation in reality and then proceed from there!

    And on the topic of a mosque at “Ground Zero”, the way I see it, it is insensitive if the chosen area does not reflect a large Muslim community. And it does not. There are very, very, very few Muslims in that area, let alone on Wall Street.

    If there was a large Muslim community there, I would completely understand. But the fact is, there is not one. So why build the mosque there? I’m forced to assume it’s for another reason, perhaps to throw salt on an open wound and to simply prove “you can”.

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TV and Movies

Famous Talent Show Comes To East Africa

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East Africa Got Talent

The famous TV series ‘Got Talent’ is coming to East Africa. Tagged ‘East Africa Got Talent’, the show will seek to identify exceptional talent in the region. The show which is the brainchild of Simon Cowell’s SYCOtv Company is now featured in over 50 countries across the globe. Cowell is famous for his strict judgments in the initial seasons of American Idol. However, Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent are the most famous. A statement from Safaricom’s Chief Customer Officer, Sylvia Mulinge read,

“The famous ‘Got Talent’ reality TV series is coming to East Africa! We are on location at Movenpick to launch the series, as we announce our title sponsorship for East Africa’s Got Talent. We are happy to announce our sponsorship of this iconic show which has been lauded as one of the world’s most successful reality TV franchise.”

The host for inaugural East Africa Got Talent

Anne Kansiime

The hilarious comedian Anne Kansiime has been named the host for the inaugural edition of the show. The show will search for the best talents across Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Some of the talent-acts the judges will be on the lookout for are comedians, dancers, singers, and more. The audition is open for anyone with any form of talent irrespective of age. In a message shared on her social media, Kansiime said,

“Oooh Ninjas, am struggling to contain this excitement. I doubt there is an Emoji I can use to illustrate it. This is it; “The famous ‘Got Talent’ reality TV series is coming to East Africa. Yes, as “East Africa’s Got Talent”. Am so happy and excited to announce my association with this iconic show which has been lauded as the world’s most successful reality TV franchise as the Host.”

A preliminary audition will hold across the four countries in major cities between from May 11 to 26. However, those who are successful will head to Nairobi, Kenya where they will perform in front of judges. They will compete until the semifinals where six people will compete for $50,000. The screening of the show is scheduled to begin in August. However, the show will have ten episodes besides the semifinal and final. The last two stages will be aired live.

The most successful reality TV

The episode of Got Talent was on June 21, 2006. Twelve years on, the show is coming to East Africa. The Guinness World Records on April 2014 named the show the ‘World’s Most Successful Reality TV Format’. South Sudan and Burundi are part of East Africa but omitted from the list. However, there is no formal statement restricting them from participating.

Those who cannot make it to the pre-audition venues can still participate online through www.rapidblue.formstack.com. Alternatively, you can record your act in a one-minute video and send it to the WhatsApp number +254 (0)703 437 903 with your name, age, and country.

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Celebrities

SZA Surprises Fans With The Adoption Of Nigerian Names

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SZA adopts Nigerian names

American music sensation Solana Rowe aka SZA made eyes pop on her Instagram page recently. However, this time it wasn’t just about stunning pictures. The music star on Thursday, April 11th, 2019, adopted two Nigerian names, “Amarachi Chinonso”. The names which are peculiar with the Igbos in Southeastern Nigeria means “God’s grace” and “God is close” respectively. The Instagram sensation has over 5.7 million followers. Mix reactions followed SZA’s name change. There were the positives, negatives and the neutral.

The 29-year old singer was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother in St. Louis. Fans immediately began to pour out their admiration for the African-American artiste’s willingness to identify with her African heritage. However, not every fan loves to make assumptions. A few fans were keen to find out the motive for her actions.

Some of the reactions trailing SZA’s name change

A picture posted days after the name change has over 618k likes and 4k comments. In addition to admiring her stunning beauty, a number of the comments revolves around her name change. However, a few of the inspiring or eyebrow-raising comments include;

Zizilords.xo; “Chineke such beauty!!! Daluu ooh#igbo_sister”

Majesty_lyn; “Omg, you’re Nigerian!!!!!!! I’m screaming”.

Itslavivi; “Can you please tell us the inspiration behind the Igbo name in your bio?”

Kelechikakesss; “If you (‘re) Nigerian, can you tell us because we wanna know ASAP?”

Obsessed_style; “Shoutout to @SZA for being an absolute queen. We’ve always love you but now our love for you is x3. Igbo kwenu!”

Carolinetheshe_; Nice fit but please we need clarity on your new Nigerian names

Derinfromisaleeko: We need to know, are you Nigerian? Are you one of us.. We love you still if you aren’t.

Recent and past musical projects

The Grammy-nominee songstress performed recently at Dreamville festival. The event was also graced by Nigerian Afrobeat star, Davido. For the past few weeks, the artist has been teasing her fans on social media about her upcoming project. Apparently, SZA featured alongside ‘Travis Scott’ and ‘The Weekend’ on Game of Thrones official soundtrack. On Thursday 18, April, SZA finally shared the Game of Thrones soundtrack with the caption ‘POWER IS POWER OUT NOW”

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POWER IS POWER. OUT NOW

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SZA shot into limelight in 2017 with the release of her debut album, ‘Ctrl’. The album made its debut on the US Billboard 200 at number 3. Consequently, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gave the album platinum certification. The album got four Grammy Awards nominations. SZA, on the other hand, bagged the ‘Best New Artiste’ nomination at the 60th award ceremony.

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Art

Three Rwanda Genocide Survivors Inspire Next Generation Of Camera Kids

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Three genocide survivors inspire kids with photography

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda led to the death of about 500,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsis. However, 25 years on, some of the genocide survivors are making a difference using the art of photography. Mussa Uwitonze, Gadi Habumugisha, and Jean Bizimana lost their parents during the genocide. While at the Imbabazi Orphanage in 2000, they were introduced to photography at ages eight and nine when nonprofit, Through the Eyes of Children, partnered with the orphanage.

Today the trio are working as professional photographers. Bizimana is a photojournalist with Reuters Africa while Uwitonze and Habumugisha are documentary photographers. In the past few months, the trio are exploring Rwanda, interviewing genocide perpetrator and survivors to document the forgiveness so far.

Mussa Uwitonze

A Twist Of Fate For This Genocide Survivors

The fate of the trio changed when a photographer visited the country. Each time he took pictures children will flock around in excitement to see. So the photographer was curious at the type of pictures the children would take if given the opportunity. Explaining their unlikely twist of fate, Habumugisha said,

Gadi Habumugisha

“He came to our orphanage and chose a group of 19 out the 100 kids, taught us some basics of photography and gave us disposable cameras. We went out to the community to take pictures and what surprised him is that the images we took were images of life and development of Rwanda.”

Soon after, the project leaders began promoting their pictures around the neighborhood, museums, universities, and Kigali. However, their works got the attention of international photographers because they took rare images. This was because they were part of the community, therefore free to take pictures foreigners couldn’t.

Early Years In Photography

After the close of the orphanage, the three became professional photographers. They began documenting activities at conferences and non-profit organizations. Consequently, they also decided to share their photography skills for the benefit of other kids. The trio are taking the Through the Eyes of Children project global by teaching other vulnerable children and genocide survivors around the world photography.

Jean Bizimana

The trio have shared their skills with young refugees in Boston and New Jersey. They have also reached out to children in foster homes as well as disabled students and genocide survivors. Reacting to their expanded Through the Eyes of Children project, Habumugisha said,

“Photography changed our lives because people got to learn about Rwanda through photography and they gave donations to the orphanage. Also, people appreciating our photos gave us hope that even though we were orphans, we had value in society and so we [want] to pass it forward to children in formidable states, so we came up with some workshops to teach children in school and later thought of going beyond to help vulnerable children so photography could help them too.”

Future Projects

The trio is now GroundTruth Film Fellows working on a documentary titled ‘Camera Kids’. Their amazing story will be part of the feature-length film. They are looking forward to opening a photography training center to give young people (including genocide survivors) the chance of making a decent livelihood.

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