Beauty queens drawn from 30 African countries arrived at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar, Cross River State on Friday to participate in the maiden edition of “Miss Africa Beauty Pageant”.
The pageant, organised by the Cross River State Government, has “Climate Change” as its theme.
The pageant is to draw global attention to issues of climate change and related environmental issues.
Addressing newsmen shortly on arrival from Morocco, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State said the pageant was a new addition to the state’s vast tourism offerings.
Ayade said he was in Morocco for the just-concluded UN conference of parties in Marrakech.
Ayade said: “The pageant is a warm embrace to Africa and more importantly, to create a platform to discuss the fate of Africans.
“The Miss Africa Beauty Pageant is a platform for the expression of intellectualism, capacity, unity, strength, vitality and the energy Africa represents.”
He also said that the showpiece was to create an avenue “to celebrate the great splendour and beauty that God has given to Africa in terms of beauty, resilience in character and natural resources”.
According to him, God has over-endowed Africa and for that, Africans have been a bit over indulged.
He said: “This is a wake-up call for us to begin to galvanise and maximally harness these great potential for the benefit and well-being of our people.
“The time has come where Africans will have to sit to discuss the fate of a black man, come together as a continent and deal with their issues themselves.
“We don’t have to depend on other continents to teach us how to conserve sun for solar energy or use the wings for energy generation and that Africa can indeed drive Africa.”
The governor explained that the climate change summit in Morocco was consistent with this year’s Carnival Calabar theme.
Ayade said: “Some of the key issues we focused as a state were on conservation of our forest. I am just back from Morocco where the whole world focused on climate change so, it is consistent with this year’s carnival theme.”
He said that the focus was on adaptation, conservation and mitigation which were some of the very critical areas his administration was focusing on.
Ayade said: “We started by setting up the Green Police to focus on policing and sustenance of our people and more importantly the forest resources.
“There is deliberate effort to ensure that those whose livelihoods have been dislocated from continuous dependence on forest will now have alternative platform to express their yearnings.”
Ayade assured visitors to the state that the 2016 Carnival Calabar would be the most spectacular show ever.
He said that the event would be “bigger, larger, with a lot of charisma, energy, focusing so much on Africa and climate change”.
Some of the participants, Chamata Obani, representing Nigeria, and Miss Annie Grace, representing Zimbabwe, also expressed their views on the pageant.
In separate interviews, they lauded the state government for creating a platform for African ladies to showcase their beauty, intellect and character.
They said they were excited to be part of the maiden edition of Miss Africa Beauty pageant and appealed for sustained efforts by the organisers to make it a platform toward uniting the continent.