Where is the Miss Liberia Pageant?
The government of Liberia has countless inconsistencies to adhere to. Here is another one.
The Pageantry industry in West Africa is known to be quite illustrious and lucrative. Cell phone companies, car companies, among others, are almost lining up to sponsor pageants across the region. In Liberia though, doubt looms over the Miss Liberia franchise as it remains entrenched in controversies and inconsistencies.
Once upon a time beginning in 1962, Liberia entered the world of pageantry when it sent its first representative, Agnes Elizabeth Anderson, to the Miss World pageant. More than half a century later, the national pageantry franchise suffocates in uncertainty and political sabotage. Overshadowed by controversies, the Miss Liberia franchise for years lost the trust of the public. Resulting from the many mishaps in its organization and handling, the franchise could no longer be trusted to groom young women into role models and foster their roles in public development and the promotion of higher education. Instead, the franchise was reduced to a medium where young women were exposed to exploitation, ridicule, and left unprotected.
After the controversial ending in 2012, which ended with no clear winner crowned queen due to accusations of foul play, the Miss Liberia franchise once again came to a standstill for two years. In those two years, the government of Liberia remained silent on the fate of the franchise, until Eleven Stripes, a group of Liberian women passionate about transforming the country’s pageantry sector, was awarded the franchise to be hosted in 2014. Unfortunately, in that same year, the Ebola Virus dissipated the country’s health sector, at which point the pageant was deferred into 2016. Not without budgetary constraints and other challenges, Eleven Stripes hosted a controversy-free pageant of 12 contestants on December 31, 2016, giving us our queen, Nimba County’s own Miss Wokie Dolo, making her the 2017 Miss Liberia.
In her year as queen, Dolo carried out her duties with little controversy, apart from the expected public criticism that comes with such a title. She went on the compete in the 2017 Miss Africa pageant, placing 1st Runner-Up, as well as the 2017 Miss World pageant, making it to the top 40 – notwithstanding many budgetary constraints from the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICAT). In her year as queen, the Miss Liberia platform was a necessary Kickstarter for Dolo’s influence and career growth; outcomes which has always been the goal of the Miss Liberia franchise for its contestants and winners.
Now here is where it gets tricky. The pageant which awarded Dolo the title of Miss Liberia 2017 was hosted in 2016. As such, the pageant where she turned over the crown and another winner was crowned Miss Liberia 2018 should have been hosted at the end of 2017. It goes without saying, the pageant could not be hosted due to more budgetary constraints and the competing presidential and legislative elections being held in the country around the same time. Likewise, as the franchise was awarded to Eleven Stripes for two years, their possession of the franchise expired even before the election period. It is now December of 2018, which is when a pageant should’ve been hosted keeping in line with the same timelines; however, the silence of the MICAT on the matter remains deafening. So, what is the fate of the Miss Liberia pageant franchise?
With countless speculations floating in regard to the pageant, it is important to keep the public informed on such matters, but this has not been the case. Instead, silence from the MICAT has arisen speculations that the current Miss Liberia is the one holding on to the crown. This is not the case. There is speculation that Dolo should be the one to host the next pageant, however, this also cannot be the case unless she pays the required USD10k in fees to the MICAT, and is awarded the franchise. There also lies speculation that Dolo’s title term limit ended at the end of 2017, but again, this is not the case, as the pageant policy states that a reigning queen remains the queen with all her duties attached up until she passes the crown to another winner in a recognized pageant. What is true, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous, is that the franchise remains embattled in politically charged controversies behind the scenes as the MICAT bears the decision as per who is awarded the franchise between some top government officials including the Hon. Representative Muna Pelham-YoungBlood, who is a former Miss Liberia, and the Eleven Stripes group.
With silence from the MICAT, uncertainty looms over the Miss Liberia franchise. Unfortunately, this uncertainty leaves no room for public trust in the franchise. Likewise, the opportunities for empowerment, social growth, public service, among others, remains limited to the reigning Miss Liberia, Wokie Dolo, in lieu of other young women being exposed to those opportunities as well. While Dolo’s efforts to empower other young women cannot go ignored, as she has used her company, LaQueen Ent., to train and sponsor a representative from Liberia to compete in the 2018 Miss Earth pageant in the Philippines, it is important she uses her voice to raise awareness and speak toward the mishandling of the Miss Liberia franchise. It is also important that as the reigning queen, Dolo uses her platform to create a Call to Action to the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism, to take a stand in awarding the franchise to the most qualified group or individual, so as to restore prestige and confidence in the franchise, and open similar doors of opportunities for other young women. Silence in this matter, is complacency with the status quo, which simply cannot be accepted.
With so many pressing issues the government need to decide on, Miss Liberia does not need to be another issue left lingering due to incomprehensible political motives.
On the other side of the world, the Miss Liberia pageants are moving forward as expected, with their 2018 queens, Sophronia Powers in the UK, and Naomi Glay in the USA.